Right, let's see if I can break the back of this today...
WSH 4-3 BOS (WSH leads 3-2)
Back and forth we go. End to end stuff, with two pretty good goalies duelling properly. The goals that you see are either going to be spectacular, or scrappy and the saves will be amazing. That was certainly the case in this tilt, as Boston spotted Washington to a two goal lead, before roaring back to tie it. The scoresheet looks like the venues for a seven game series (W-W-B-B-W-B-W), which is where this one looks like it's heading.
Holtby's 34 Saves upstaged the more experienced Tim Thomas again, but don't expect the Bruins to just roll voer and play dead. They are the number 2 seeds, after all.
Prediction : Come on Washington - one more Win...
OTT 2-0 NYR (OTT Leads 3-2)
Ah, the promise that Craig Anderson showed when he was playing in Denver. Now setting a new career high in playoff wins, he shut out the Rangrs on 41 shots. From the highlights being dominated by the seige of Lundqvist's net, the Rangers can't have gotten too much in the way of quality scoring production from their forwards.
That said, Henrik kept the Rangers in the game. He turned aside 28 of 29 shots and only an empty net tally from Jason Spezza made the scoreline less flattering for New York.
Another great series, built on two solid goaltenders. Could it go to seven? Should do, I'm not sure that the Rangers will give in that easily.
Prediction : Rangers need to win a couple to reach round 2. Possible, but not probable... yet
NJD 0-3 FLA (FLA Leads 3-2)
The fans are getting used to seeing the Panthers winning in the postseason. That said, they've got to be running out of plastic rats. Please don't buy them any more!
Kris Versteeg scored a pretty goal from a narrow angle to give Florida a 1 goal lead, while Jose Theodore kept the Devils at bay. Versteeg then turned provider, drawing Brodeur out of his net, to give Scottie Upshall an easy goal, to put the Panthers 2-0 up, with less than seven minutes left to play. One last roll of the dice for the Devils and Brodeur gets pulled, only for Tomas Kopecky to break past Ilya Kovalchuk, who hooked Kopecky, giving the referees no choice, but to award the goal. I love that rule, though Kovalchuk should be credited with PIMs on the scoresheet, or something to show what happened.
Can Marty bounce back? Can the Devils offence find a way past Theodore? Wait and see!
Prediction : Devils in 5 - we're 5 games in, but no winner yet.
CHI 2-1 PHX (OT) (PHX leads 3-2)
This is an NHL Record - 5 straight games in the playoffs between these teams has gone to overtime. Great for the fans, not so great for their blood pressure.
Jonathan Towes walked the puck away from the faceoff circle and lanced one over Mike Smith's right shoulder, to give the Blackhawks hope and a trip back to Chicago. Anything can happen in the Windy City and this one will be earmarked as one to watch.
Mike Smith is still forging himself a great reputation in Phoenix (Dallas must regret getting rid of him, as might Tampa Bay, too). 36 Saves was good, but not quite good enough, as Shane Doan elected to take the puck behind the Chicago net late in the third, as opposed to trying to sneak a shot through the padding of Corey Crawford (18 saves on 19 shots). The problem for Phoenix is being outshot 12-4 in the 1st and 3rd periods in their own building. Be brave, shoot the puck more and you should score more goals, no matter how good the goalie is.
Prediction : Could still go to seven. Go on Coyotes, let them win one and bring it back to the desert!
SJS 1-3 STL (STL Wins Series 4-1)
The Blues advance for the first time in 10 years. A sweet feeling in Missouri, no doubt. The amount of noise made at the Scottrade center would seem to indicate as much. It could have been worse than that for the Sharks,a s they have been outplayed pretty much all series by the Blues, as you would expect from a 2-7 seeded matchup. The sharks had burned a lot of energy to get to the postseason and started flagging, which become more noticeable, the deeper into the series we got.
In spite of that and in spite of Cup Champion goalie Antti Niemi taking a walkabout early on in the 1st, nearly coughing up the lead, San Jose struck first. Joe Thornton being at the right place at the right time, to clear up the mess created by Winnik and Mitchell.
Then came the march of the Blues in the 3rd. Jamie Langenbrunner got together with Scott Nichol and tied the game. This one was a little scrappy, but it was a quick break down the ice, that did for San Jose then. David Peron showed off his soft hands, redirecting a shot from the point past Niemi, to take the lead less than a minute later and in their desperation, pulling Niemi from the net, Andy MacDonald exposed the empty net with a decent piece of control at full stretch.
The Blues march on, no upset here. They are now the top seeded team in the West (perhaps deservedly)
Prediction : STL in 6. One point