While the smoke has barely cleared from last night’s epic Leafs flameout, Round 2 begins on 2 fronts tonight, plus the Comets come up big against the Marlies in Game 3.
BOSTON 7 TORONTO 4 (Bruins win series 4-3)
It was a memorable game, but for a lot of the wrong reasons. Two particularly ripe goaltending performances. The greatest visual display of how the Leafs screwed up by not fixing their defence at the deadline. And after 2 solid years of hype about the Leafs budding young stars, seeing them get upstaged by those of the Bruins. Let’s be honest, we’re always going to enjoy seeing Toronto lose. They afford us the same courtesy, and it’s not like we forget how they damn near hurt themselves cheering so hard for the Bruins in ‘11. But I personally take no joy in seeing a Boston team move on. Ever. Go Tampa.
And now that it’s over, can we have a round of applause for a pretty entertaining 1st round? A couple sweeps, some surprising underdogs pushing favorites more than expected and that Bruins/Leafs battle was a great one to watch. Round 2 gets underway with a battle that pretty much everyone expected as well as a clash between the two teams that swept their respective Series.
PITTSBURGH @ WASHINGTON 7:00 PM EDT/ 4:00 PDT (CBC/SN)
There are a number of playoff traditions in the NHL. Apparently one of them is that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin must do battle at some point in the post-season. While it speaks volumes about the so-called parity in the Metropolitan Division that basically it’s these two teams (along with the Rangers) that have been battling each other every year since realignment, this year there’s no clear favorite. The Caps stumbled out of the gate then put the hammer down to take 4 straight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Pittsburgh could just as easily have lost the series to the Flyers, especially if Philly had a goalie who could have played as good as Matt Murray (who was not good save for 2 games). It’s literally a coin-toss as to who might win this one. Deep down though, I’d really love to see the Caps take this, because of the chaos that a potential Ovechkin Cup would cause among the 200 hockey men and their narratives... CAPS IN 7
SAN JOSE @ VEGAS 10:00 PM EDT/ 7:00 PM PDT (CBC/SN)
Are we all past the whole shock of the Vegas thing now? Good. It happened, so let’s focus on the fact that this could actually be the first real test this team faces, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how they respond to actual adversity. And that’s the thing about this Vegas team: We still don’t know what they’re made of. NHL history is littered with teams that have spectacular regular seasons only to collapse in the playoffs. So when you see a team that’s only played 4 games, you know that they played well enough to win (in this case against an over-rated Kings team whose window is closing fast), but they trailed mere minutes in the entire series. Stanley Cup Champions aren’t defined by how dominant they look in wins, but how they respond when facing a challenge. We may finally get to see how Vegas responds tonight.
UTICA 5 TORONTO 2 (Marlies lead series 2-1)
After dropping both games on the road, the Utica Comets came home to a raucous Adirondack Bank Center to try and avoid the sweep and possibly get this best of 5 series going the distance. The Comets got a boost from the parent club as the Canucks sent Reid Boucher down, a move that paid immediate dividends for the Comets, as he opened the scoring on a PP goal from Dylan Blujus and Nikolay Goldobin. Jonathen Dahlen got his first point of the playoffs on the 2nd goal, setting up Wacey Hamilton, and Cole Cassels made it 3-0 before the end of the 1st with an unassisted tally. The Comets were outshot 13-7 in the 1st, and really poured it on in the 2nd, getting 16 shots on goal, but it remained 3-0 after 2. Calle Rosen snapped the shutout in the 3rd for Toronto, but Tyler Motte got his first of the post-season to restore the 3 goal lead. The Marlies would score again, on a Colin Greening SH marker, but Cole Cassels into the empty net for his second of the game would seal the deal for the Comets. Thatcher Demko was huge in this one, stopping 35 of 37 Marlies shots. Game 4 goes tomorrow night at the ABC, and if the Comets can win, that will force a deciding Game 5 at 4:00 EDT in Toronto at the Ricoh Centre. The Comets will have their work cut out for them Friday as Kaspari Kapanen, Travis Dermott and Andreas Johnsson will all be in the lineup for the Marlies.
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