Sunday, May 16, 2010
All I can say is 'wow' when it comes to the two series in the Prince of Wales. Just great stuff, very entertaining. I think the winner of this conference is going to get crushed in the final but in terms of storylines and sheer entertainment, if not good hockey, these guys have the western clubs beat right now.
The Habs' victory over the Pens was surprising but not as surprising as their upset of the Capitals. Once again the Habs were outplayed for the most part and once again Halak was excellent but unlike the Capitals I never felt as if the Pens were that much better, which sounds a little crazy I know. The Pens had a spotty season. The loss of Gill and Scuderi cost them and Malkin never looked like the Malkin from last season and Staal was hurt and the wingers who did the job last year did not do so well this spring. Really though it came down to goaltending. When the series was tied at two I remarked that in a best of three you had to like the Habs' chances because Halak v. Fleury was not much of a contest and game seven certainly proved that point. You don't need great goaltending to win the Cup anymore, it seems, another result of the parity brought about by the salary Cap, but you do need at least good goaltending. Fleury did not even provide that in the deciding game and so the Pens went home.
As for the Bruins and the Flyers well I picked the Bruins (just as I picked the Pens) and so overall these playoffs my record is seven and five. In the west I am five and one, in the east, well not so good. although three games into this one I looked golden.
And then a few things happened or at least the culmination of a few things. Prior to the series the Flyers looked doomed by injuries - Gagne, Carter and Lapierre were all out - while the Bruins were missing Seidenberg only. Even Savard had returned to the lineup.
But in game one Sturm went down and then a couple of games later Krejci was knocked out as well and so the Bruins, like their first round opponents the Sabres, were suddenly down two of their top forwards.
And like the Sabres their offence disappeared.
And Gagne, who really is a hell of a player, returned.
Now the game four overtime started with a Bruins' surge that almost did it for them but the Flyers pushed back and Gagne scored the winner. After that it was just the old cliche, one game at a time and the Flyers just won them, one by one.
I watched the seventh game and if the Bruins had scored that fourth goal they would have been through I think but they did not and by my eye they looked like a very tired team as the Flyers began their push back. Chara looked gassed and so did a lot of his teammates as the Flyers' suddenly superior depth did them in.
A tough loss to take for Boston but at least they get to console themselves with the fact that they had a decent year and will get one of the top two juniors in the draft. Not too bad.
As for the Habs and the Flyers well I've picked against both clubs so far. I never thought either would get this close to the Cup although I did have an inkling about Philly beating Jersey.
I think Philadelphia takes this, probably in seven. Montreal has the edge in net but I think Philly is a matchup problem for them. The Flyers are big and strong and aggressive and I think that the Habs might get pushed around a bit. The biggest issue for the Habs is that Flyer D. They haven't faced a club with a top four of that quality and I think that and the Flyers depth up front will be the difference.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:00 AM