Tuesday, April 27, 2010
More and more story lines abound as one of the best NHL first rounds in years are coming to an epic end.
1. Buffalo ousted in Round One: Everyone expected Boston-Buffalo to be a low scoring series that could go either way, but did anyone really think Tuukka Rask would outplay Ryan Miller in goal? The Sabres problems start and end with offense. Top Centers Derek Roy and Tim Connelly did not register one goal this series and their most explosive forward, Tomas Vanek battled injuries all series. This will be a long and painful summer for Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff as they must address their lack of scoring this offseason. Yes the Sabres won a weak division, but it's another year of a playoff letdown in upstate New York.
2. Jaroslav Halak: 53 saves to shut out Washington last night and force a game seven. Shockingly, the Capitals are 1-30 on the power play this season. Everyone predicted the Capitals to make short work of Montreal, but amazingly the Canadiens, on the strength of their goalie have hung in with the explosive Capitals. I still don't feel like Washington makes enough of a commitment to defense which will hurt them, even if they advance to the second round.
3. Another Chicago-Vancouver Series awaits: I saw the Canucks first hand this playoff year and if Roberto Luongo plays like he did the last three playoff games against LA, this team can beat anyone. Expect lots of animosity between these two teams, especially from Vancouver after losing to the Blackhawks last season. Perhaps no team is deeper than Chicago, but will they be able to stop the Sedin line? Is the Canuck defense deep enough to handle the firepower of the Hawks? Can Antti Niemi outplay Roberto Luongo? This series is must watch TV.
4. Young teams such as Nashville, Colorado, and Los Angeles proved they are on the rise: Nashville coach Barry Trotz is one of our favorite coaches and although he has never advanced the Predators past the first round, he is to be commended by how that team performs. Nashville gave Chicago everything they could handle and with a few breaks could of won. Due to budget restrictions, expect the Predators to continue to rely on goaltending and defense and not go the free agent route. As for Colorado and LA, they both should benefit from a year of playoff seasoning. Both teams are building with young players and just need to stay the course. I would expect the Kings this summer to try to add more pieces to take the next step.
5. Finally, I want to touch on an article in NY Newsday today, concerning the Islanders lighthouse project and a potential casino being built near Nassau Coliseum, instead of the original plan presented to Nassau County by owner Charles Wang. Quite honestly, I am sick and tired of all this uncertainty surrounding the Islanders. The New York Islanders and their fans deserve a new building and the scuttlebutt around the team should consist of what happens on the ice, not off it. Islander fans are very loyal, as I rarely go to an NHL arena, without seeing someone wearing an Islander jersey. Enough is enough, as the county and Wang need to get something settled because it is becoming borderline embarrassing and unfair.