April 29, 2009

Game Seven heaven

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

There’s nothing like Game Seven in an NHL playoff series. In baseball and basketball, tensions will rise, but not like they do in a physical sport like hockey.

The two games last night came down to some incredibly clutch performances by the winners and terrible collapses by the losers. Martin Brodeur, one of the best goalies ever, let in two goals within the last two minutes, something that is uncharacteristic of him to say the least. He’ll be replaying those two in his head all summer. Then there’s the Rangers, who after letting the Caps go ahead on a nice shot by Sergei Fedorov, couldn’t even muster up a break long enough to pull the goalie. How sad.

So now we move onto the second round of the playoffs and also move a step closer to shutting down hockey for another off-season. When will leagues realize that holding games nine months a year is too much?

Anyways, in the East, a couple of rivalries set up quite nicely. Pittsburgh-Washington will give us a showdown of the league’s three top players, Crosby, Malkin and Ovehckin. If it weren’t for the great play that the teams have been receiving from their goalies, you’d think this series would be a goal-fest.

Then there’s a rivalry between Boston and Carolina that’s older than one might think. Many are quick to forget that the Hurricanes used to be the Mighty Whalers of Hartford. Apparently, there’s no love lost after the move either.

Out in the West, no Game sevens game to pass, but there was a huge upset. Now, in the NBA, when eighth seeds beat number ones in the first round, it’s called one of the biggest upsets ever. That’s not the case in the NHL, where parity is so rampant, anything is possible, in the bad way. Having a team like the Ducks, who are a quality squad, beat the supposed best team in the league, well that only hurts your sport’s image.

So now, we’re left with Anaheim vs. Detroit and the Canucks vs. the Blackhawks. The Wings and Vancouver have been off for quite some time now after sweeping their series, while the Ducks and Chicago had slightly longer affairs. There are some stories to watch though. The Ducks are a “fiesty underdog,” despite winning the Cup only two years ago. The Wings are the defending champs. The Blackhawks are the young upstarts and Vancouver is the last Canadian team left.

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