Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Six Settled, Two to Go in First Round

First off, major thanks and kudos to @dani3boyz and Love_the_Game for being on the POTG radio show last night. It was really fun to do. Dani had one of those jaw dropping statements in comparing Facebook and Twitter saying something like "Twitter is full of people I want to know going forward, Facebook is people from the past. And I'm all about moving forward." She is a soon to be social media giant and has received tons of encouragement from all around for telling her story on POTG. Chasta was fun to have on as always and we wish her luck tonight in game seven. If you haven't heard the show, go here. You will not be sorry.

The first round of the NHL playoffs are swiftly coming to a conclusion with the Ducks and Hawks moving on and two incredible match ups tonight in game seven contests.

The Chicago Blackhawks went into enemy territory and and came out with a 4-1 game-six win at Calgary. I found it hard to believe that it had been 13 years since the Hawks won a first round series. In spite of all the injuries, I really expected that Calgary would rally at home and push this one to game seven, but the Hawks were far too dominant on Monday night.

The big story of the night had to be Nikolai Khabibulin who lived up to the moniker of the 'Bulin Wall" stopping 43 of 44 shots by a desperate Calgary team. His performance was reminiscent of the dominance that he held over the Flames in the finals in 2004 when he was with the Lightning.

On the other end of the ice, Miikka Kiprusoff was on vacation, comparatively, as Chicago only put 15 shots on his net scoring three times before the empty netter. The Hawks were led in scoring by the unlikely Dustin Byduglien who had a goal and three assists.

The loss ends the season for Calgary which appeared to be built to go deep in the playoffs after the trade deadline acquisition of Olli Jokinen.

The Hawk's victory sets up the match that Jackson and I wanted to see in the first round, with Chicago facing Vancouver. After the last regular season contest which featured a full ice brawl, emotions will run high in the upcoming series. As usual, at this point in the playoffs, goaltending will be the key with Roberto Luongo seemingly being more fresh at this point in the season after taking time off for an injury at midseason.

The late game on Monday was a war. Joe Thornton opened the action by challenging Ryan Getzlaf on the game's opening draw. They obviously do not care for each other. In post game remarks, Getzlaf said that Thornton asked him to go as they approached the circle and since he was going to ask also, he was ready. Thornton seemed to get the best of the fight but lost the war as Getzlaf ended up with a game tying assist on the power play on Corey Perry's goal and then got the empty netter as a final stake in the heart in the closing moments.

Jonas Hiller was the star of the game frustrating the Sharks by stopping 36 of 37 shots. The real story of the series was the inconsistency of the Sharks star players. Thornton basically was a no show for the first three game. Marleau, who has carried the team in past playoffs, was well below expectations and the rest of the team did not play with intensity or consistency that is expected of a President Trophy winning team during the first round of the playoffs.

There appears to be a good chance that the Sharks organization will "blow up" the structure of the current team. After a couple of years of being the preseason team to beat, this postseason is nothing short of a tragedy for the San Jose ownership. The fallout from these playoffs should provide a summer full of Shark watching by fans and the media to see what shakes out.

The Ducks will move on to face the Red Wings in a rivalry that will be fun to watch. Both teams are loaded with weapons on offense and have shut down defenses. The key to watch will be in goal to see if Chris Osgood can continue his playoff success and if Jonas Hiller can continue to be unshaken in his first playoff run.

So, we move on to tonight's games which feature two game sevens. The Caps-Rangers series has had all the media attention while the Devils-Hurricanes series has really flown under the radar of media attention in comparison. I have to believe that the home teams will clinch in both series.

There is little left to be said that hasn't been fully discussed in the Rangers and Caps series. In spite of being down 3-1 at one point, the Caps clearly appeared to be the better team on ice. Henrik Lundqvist is the only reason we are having a game seven in spite of a poor performance on Sunday. He will literally have to stand on his head tonight if the Rangers have a chance to steal this one away in DC.

Conversely, Simeon Varlamov will have to continue to play as he had prior to Sunday's third period. Caps fans had better hope that a couple of weak goals in the third period were a fluke and not an exposed flaw in Varlamov's game. If it turns into a shoot out, the Caps will have the upper hand, but if it stays close, it could go to OT. The Rangers will miss Betts far more than the Caps will miss Brashear. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Sunday night was the first time in the series that I actually saw more than a few minutes of the games involving the Canes and the Devils, and you could barely call it a game as the Devils did not show up ready to play.

I'm picking the Devils in this one based more on reputation and the home advantage more than anything I've seen on the ice. This game is Marty Brodeur's game to win and it all basically falls on his shoulders. If he plays as he is capable, and I am assuming that he will, he should be the difference maker in the game. If he has an off night, then the Hurricanes can win it going away.

I'm ready for the puck drop right now but have plenty of work to do today to keep me distracted until game time.

That's it for now. More later I'm sure.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass


I was out of touch most of the day and will try to rapidly catch up.

Thanks to Forechecker for glowing remarks about last night's POTG podcast. It appears that from the feedback that I have seen today @dani3boyz may be replacing Sarah Palin as America's most famous hockey mom.

Interesting local ratings on the CBJ from Eric Smith.

Selke top three announced - Datsuyk, Richards and Kesler

The story behind the story - interview with fan that drove Torts over the edge.

Interesting from Alanah about Nooks-Hawks series.

From @AnaheimDucks - Looks like we'll be in Detroit on Friday @ 4 pm PDT & Sunday @ 11 am EDT. The rest of the schedule, including broadcast info, is coming soon.

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