Between the Pipes – Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 Recap
Okay so it really pisses me off to have the Sharks vs. Red Wings and the Canadiens vs. Penguins games starting only 30 minutes apart. Having said that I guess I should be grateful the NHL doesn’t schedule them at the same time. I love how ratings are up like 50 to 75% in all areas but considering that they weren’t that high to begin with it isn’t all that impressive. Still baby steps are encouraging and I think the NHL will continue to reach new fans over the next few years. If the series continue as they are I will have predicted three of four 2nd round series correctly, which sure beats my 1st round predictions… Now let’s get to the series recaps.
4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 8 Montreal Canadiens
What we learned: Halak mostly still has it.
Things I Like: Other than a really bad game 1, probably due to exhaustion, Halak has been back to his three game wonder days against the Capitals. Only difference is that the Penguins are a little more versatile than the Capitals.
I love the atmosphere of the Bell Centre, just awesome. From the consistent chants to the chorus of boos it the kind of atmosphere I wish every NHL arena had.
Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t always been on the top of his game in the regular season or the postseason. But he did just pitch his first shutout of the postseason in game 3. Also every postseason he starts to get hot and help carry the penguins, that shutout must just be the catalyst to his hot streak. He truly earned his shutout as a lot of the saves early in the game were pretty awesome.
Things I Don’t: Besides Michael Cammalleri, who continues to be red hot, the Canadiens are having some offensive woes. Top guys aren’t really delivering when they need to. After having an awesome start in the Capitals series, Tomas Plekanec has cooled considerably and has only one assist in the past four games including the game 7 against the Capitals. Scott Gomez has only one goal in the postseason and that was in game 1 against the Capitals. These guys need to step it up for the Canadiens to have a chance. The one bright spot for the Habs is that P.K Subban has stepped in nicely for the injured Andrei Markov.
Likely Winner: Penguins
8 – Goals by Michael Cammalleri tied for 2nd in the league
3.03 – Team GAA for the Canadiens the worst of the remaining teams, that probably surprises you so go ahead blame Carey Price
6 Boston Bruins vs. 7 Philadelphia Flyers
What we learned: Philadelphia can really only beat New Jersey and the Bruins had everyone fooled.
Things I like: The Bruins regular season scoring problems was apparently a clever ruse to make people think they couldn’t score. Averaging a healthy 4 goals a game the Bruins are also getting real balanced scoring. In all three games no player has scored more than one goal.
I love the high flying open ice of the series. Asham, Satan, Briere, Krejci have all had nifty move goals or breakaway goals. I may have missed some others. In some cases this series reminds me of the Canucks vs. Kings series.
Things I don’t: The Flyers aren’t getting manhandled by the Bruins but at the same time they aren’t winning. We already know they can’t beat the Penguins in the post season but now they aren’t showing much fight against the Bruins. It’s been a season of ups and downs for the Flyers and most of the ups came against the Devils. They really need to pull out one win to have more confidence for next year.
Brian Boucher who was phenomenal against the Devils has cooled considerably against the Bruins. In game 1 he faced a ton of shots and had some nice saves, so he was still admirable in defeat. But the last two games he has been about average and he really needs to get it going for the Flyers to get a win. Boucher’s SV% is .874 against the Bruins and was .939 against the Devils.
Likely Winner: Bruins
2.34 – Goals a game average for the Bruins in the regular season
2.89 – Goals a game average for the Bruins in the postseason
4 – PIM so far this postseason for Chris Pronger an all time low that’s for sure
1 San Jose Sharks vs. 5 Detroit Red Wings
What we learned: Sometimes you win by losing.
Thing I like: Last year the Sharks got bounced in six games to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were by no means your typical 8th seed and even though it was embarrassing for the Sharks, I don’t think it was that bad. Losing for them was a good thing it made them learn they weren’t where they need to be yet, that were a little over confident and it made them work harder. It has so far paid off this year. The same thing will probably happen to the Washington Capitals next year.
Joe Pavelski is on fire, so much so that at this point it doesn’t matter that Thornton and Marleau aren’t. They both were awesome on the overtime breakaway winner in game 3 though, so that more than makes up for their other shortcomings.
Things I don’t: Detroit got probably hotter than anybody down the stretch to make the playoffs. Having said that, they probably overworked themselves to much to get into the playoffs. Then to go up against a team with something to prove after a seven game series against the Coyotes, also didn’t help much. They’ll be back next year thought they might pick a few games in the meantime.
Jimmy Howard isn’t quite ready to led his team in the playoffs but he is getting there. This is all valuable experience for him. He should be a solid bet between the pipes for the Wings for the next decade.
Likely Winner: Sharks
4 to 3 – The last three scores of the Wings vs. Sharks series, talk about tight
9 – Goals by Joe Pavelski, the league leader in the playoffs so far
2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. 3 Vancouver Canucks
What we learned: These teams just aren’t peaking at the same time.
Things I like: Dustin Byfuglien needed to be the sparkplug in this series and so far he has. In game 3 he was truly was playing his best in his element. He screened Luongo, he goaded Canucks and he gasped scored a hat trick. If he keeps it up the Canucks don’t have much of a chance. He is the ultimate X-Factor.
After a bad game 1 Antti Niemi has bounced back with stong efforts in games 2 and 3. The Blackhawks Stanley Cup hopes lies mainly on his shoulders and I like how he has performed so far. Everyone has bad games it’s how you bounce back from them that matters. Niemi’s strong saves in a hectic 1st period in game 3 really help set the tone for the Hawks in the game.
I liked Marian Hossa’s enthusiasm after he scored his goal in game 3 with his “yeah baby” yell. He has been mostly quiet thus far and I’d like to see if that goal helps energize him and get him more involved.
Roberto Luongo is a quote machine. From his first round gem of “I only play when it matters” to this round’s “Momentum is overrated” I’d love to know what he’d say in the Stanley Cup round if given the chance to play for it.
Things I don’t: The referring this Stanley Cup playoffs has been spotty at best. In game 3 of the series a couple of Blackhawks basically pushed Luongo into the net and it was called a good goal. They reviewed it and it was still a good goal. Byfuglien and the other Blackhawk weren’t pushed in by any Canucks and it’s ludicrous to count the goal when Luongo had no chance to make a play. Not to mention in another series, I can’t remember which, a similar goal was disallowed. Consistency is something refs should strive for as is not allowing goals that clearly are not legal.
The Sedin twins have been neutralized by the Blackhawks top defensive pair since game 1. Since the top line provides most of the offense for the Canucks that poses a huge problem. Coach Vigneault needs to get more creative on his line changes and perhaps even split up the twins.
What I mostly hate is how the Canucks brought their A game in game 1 and the Blackhawks didn’t show up. The Blackhawks brought their A game in game 3 the Canucks didn’t really show up. In game 2 the 1st period was all Canucks and the 3rd period was all Blackhawks. I’d like to see both teams just bring their A game for the whole game just once. That’s what everyone wants to see.
Likely Winner: Blackhawks
.932 – Antti Niemi’s SV% in games 2 and 3 combined
0.5 – Combined PPG average of the Sedins against the Blackhawks
1.5 – Combined PPG average of the Sedins against the Kings
Goat of the Week
Kevin Bieksa – Vancouver Canucks
Kris Versteeg gets credited for the goal but Bieksa was the one that actually knocked it in. Bieksa was at a bad angle but he could have done a better job in knocking the puck in a different direction. Having said that he was rushed by Versteeg which made him panic and forced him to react quicker.
Warning: The video is highlights of the whole game but the goal is the first clips in the reel. This was the only video I could find that had the overhead replay of the goal.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 29, 1986 Rookie Claude Lemieux scored the winning goal at 5:55 of overtime as the Canadiens won 2-1 over the Hartford Whalers, at the Forum in Game 7 of the Adams Division Finals. Montreal advanced to the Conference Finals vs NY Rangers.
April 30, 2003 Anaheim’s Mike Leclerc scored a power play goal with 1:47 remaining in regulation, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere recorded his first career playoff shutout, in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars, in Game 4 of the Western Conf. Semi-Finals
May 01, 1992 Buffalo’s Pat LaFontaine became the first player in NHL history to score a goal in each of his team’s first 7 playoff games in one year. The milestone came in a 3-2 Sabres loss at Boston, in Game 7 of the Adams Division Semi-Finals.
May 02, 1971 Bobby Hull scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Black Hawks to a 4-2 playoff win over the New York Rangers, in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals at Chicago Stadium. Black Hawks advanced to the Finals vs Montreal.
May 03, 1994 Don Sweeney scored the winning goal at 9:08 of overtime as the Bruins won 6-5 over the Devils at New Jersey, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The win gave Boston a 2-0 lead in the series.
May 04, 1972 Bobby Orr scored a goal to break the career record for defensemen playoff goals. #17 came in only his 47th playoff game. He broke the mark set by Detroit’s Red Kelly (16) in 94 playoff games. Boston lost to the Rangers, 5-2 at New York.
May 05, 1977 Montreal’s Bob Gainey scored twice to lead the Canadiens to a 2-1 win over the Islanders at New York, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. With the win Montreal advanced to the Finals against Boston.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.