2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 So Far
I generally feel the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is the worst but the 2013 2nd round has been pretty good so far. The best series has been the Kings vs Sharks so far, although that double overtime Game 3 with the Penguins and Senators was really good. It looked like all the higher seeds would advance and set up conference finals with the last 4 Stanley Cup winners but the Red Wings seem to have something to say about that. No sweeps in this round though, which is a great thing.
1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 7 Ottawa Senators
What we learned: This series looked like it was going to be short and now it looks like it might go 7
Things I Like: I liked how the Senators bounced back in Game 2 and even thought they were outplayed they always game back to score after the Penguins did. Jason Spezza’s return gives the Senators a big boost and evens out the rosters somewhat. The goaltending has been superb by Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson, who bounced back well after a bad Game 2 performance. Sidney Crosby getting the hat trick in Game 2 was one of those playoff moments. The double overtime win by the Senators was another. Love the hot crowd in Ottawa too.
Things I Don’t: The Senators can really only win this series if they turn it into a defensive struggle, which I don’t mind but others won’t like as much. The Penguins played some horrible defense when the game was on the line in Game 3 which could really be the turning point in the series. It’s hard to imagine the Penguins winning the cup with that defense, at least their goaltending is better now. Erik Karlsson is the Senators top defenseman but with his gaffes lately, which happen a couple a game now, he doesn’t look like it. He just looks like he needs more experience.
Likely Winner: Penguins, although the Game 3 overtime win could be the turning point for Ottawa
4 Boston Bruins vs. 6 New York Rangers
What we learned: John Tortorella is getting blunter, the Bruins are getting better
Things I like: The Rangers can’t blame Henrik Lundqvist for their losses, he can’t really play any better. Torey Krug is one of the breakout stars of the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine he went undrafted. He won’t be benched when the Bruins defense gets healthy. This Bruins team is finally living up to the roster’s potential and they remind me of the 2011 Stanley Cup winning team.
Things I don’t: The Rangers’ powerplay is still pathetic. The Bruins’ powerplay is slightly better. The Rangers just need to generate more offense or they won’t win this series. They also lost the first two games at Washington in Round 1 and ended up winning the series, so who knows. Jaromir Jagr is playing like his age, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hangs it up after this season. He had a perfect opportunity for a goal that I’m pretty sure the younger Jagr would have made.
Likely Winner: Bruins but don’t ever count the Rangers out
1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. 7 Detroit Red Wings
What we learned: The Red Wings are for real
Thing I like: Between Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk leading and the younger players, contributing already, the Red Wings have found a nice chemistry and they are peaking at the right time. Coach Mike Babcock is one of the most underrated. The Blackhawks have still not given up a powerplay goal in the playoffs, which is pretty impressive. The Blackhawks played a great Game 1 and that’s about it.
Things I don’t: When Patrick Kane scores a goal the Blackhawks are 0-2. Hard to imagine but it’s true. They are 5-1 when he doesn’t. I’m not sure what the Blackhawks Game 3 performance was but it I know it was pretty bad. More disturbing was their lack of composure and their committing of dumb penalties towards the end of the game. The no goal call in Game 3 on the Blackhawks was pretty lame. He was in the crease but he certainly didn’t interfere with Jimmy Howard. That took away a lot of the Blackhawks momentum. After Game 1 the Blackhawks seem to have a hard time maintaining any kind of sustained presence in their offensive zone.
Likely Winner: Blackhawks, not giving up on them… yet but it’s starting to not look good
5 Los Angeles Kings vs. 6 San Jose Sharks
What we learned: Quick is having another Conn Smythe performance
Things I like: Antti Niemi and Jonathan Quick have both been spot on. Logan Couture continues to show why he is the best player on the Sharks, although he did make one big mistake (see below in the goats section). Five of the twelve goals scored in the series have been on the powerplay, including the overtime game winner in Game 3, which shows you have even these teams are and how great the goaltending has been. It’s good that the Sharks meltdown at the end of Game 2 didn’t affect them in Game 3.
Things I don’t: The Kings were atrocious winning faceoffs in Game 2 but they bounced back in Game 3. They really miss Jarret Stoll. Although the Kings tried to score at the end of regulation in Game 3, their last rush cost them the game with their goaltender interference penalty. Anze Kopitar, and to a lesser extent Dustin Brown, are still not playing their A game or getting into the flow of any of the playoff games.
Likely Winner: Kings, although this series is really close the Kings may not lose again in it
Goats of the Week
The five Penguin “defenders” on the ice – Pittsburgh Penguins
We use that term loosely and the worst part about this is the Penguins were on a powerplay so when you are protecting a lead and you out number the other team it shouldn’t be that hard. The Senators did pull the goalie in Game 3 but the extra skater had no bearing on the play whatsoever. Chris Kunitz let eventual scorer Daniel Alfredsson go and nobody else picked him up and the rest of the team was on one side puck watching.
Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks
As great of a player as he is he had a prime chance to clear the puck at the end of Game 2 and instead of clearing it up the boards, where no King was, he decided to just lift it right in front of him where Drew Doughty knocked it down and gained control which eventually led to the game tying goal. It’s not like Couture was rushed so he had plenty of time to go up the boards which, even if you didn’t know nobody was there, would have been the more traditional, safer play.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
May 14, 1989 Al MacInnis scored twice as the Flames won 3-2 over the Canadiens in Calgary, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
May 15, 1994 Stephane Richer scored his fourth career playoff overtime goal at 35:23 of overtime to give the Devils a 4-3 win over the Rangers at New York, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
May 16, 1999 Patrick Roy made 36 saves for his 12th career playoff shutout as Colorado won 3-0 against the visiting Detroit Red Wings, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
May 17, 2004 Jarome Iginla scored the game-winner on a shorthanded breakaway goal, and Miikka Kiprusoff set a Flames franchise record with his 4th career playoff shutout in a 3-0 win over the Sharks, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in San Jose.
May 18, 1978 Bruins’ Gerry Cheevers made 16 saves in a 4-0 win over Montreal, in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, in Boston. It was Cheevers’ 8th (and final) career playoff shutout, and ended the Canadiens’ playoff record of 10 straight wins in the Finals.
May 19, 1984 Wayne Gretzky scored two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oilers beat the NY Islanders 5-2 in Game 5 of the Finals, to become the 1984 Stanley Cup Champions — and the first former WHA team to win the Stanley Cup.
May 20, 1966 Wren Blair was named the General Manager of the expansion Minnesota North Stars, a year and a half before their first NHL game. Blair later was also named their first NHL coach.