The playoffs are so stressful! So many games! So many blogs! Here are some selected recaps from the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, in case you’re into bullet points:
Boston Bruins-Buffalo Sabres, series tied 1-1
- Buffalo’s Vezina Trophy nominee Ryan Miller made 38 saves in Game 1, 23 of which came in the 2nd period. He allowed only 1 goal through the whole match. Boston’s Tuukka Rask made 30 saves but allowed 2 in Boston’s road loss.
- Rask and Miller had the lowest goals against average in the regular season, 1.97 and 2.22, respectively. It’s feasible this series could come down to which goaltender has the most perseverance.
- Boston had the upper hand in Game 2, scoring 2 goals (plus one empty netter) in the 3rd period for a final score of 5-3.
- Zdano Chara was the 1st star of that game, having scored 2 of the Bruins’ goals, and appears to be making a push for another Norris Trophy.
- Thomas Vanek suffered a high ankle sprain during Game 2 and will be sidelined for Game 3, possibly longer. Judging on time missed for other players with the same sprain, “possibly longer” is my estimation.
Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens, series tied 1-1
- Both games have been decided in overtime, the wins divided equally between both teams.
- Alex Ovechkin was completely shut out in Game 1, unable to take any shots on goal. Washington’s goals came from defenseman Joe Corvo and center Nicklas Backstrom, who has been beyond instrumental for the Caps thus far in the post-season.
- Despite looking like the superior team in the first period of Game 1 with 19 shots to the Habs 7, the score was tied at 1 until the early third period.
- Washington fought back from a 4-1 deficit in Game 2 thanks to Eric Fehr, Ovechkin, rookie blueliner John Carlson, and a Backstrom hat-trick which culminated just 31 seconds into overtime for a 6-5 win.
- Coincidentally, Andrei Kostitsyn also had a hat-trick for the Habs, reminiscent of the Capitals game against Pittsburgh last year in which both Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby scored three apiece.
- Jaroslav Halak is making life hard for the Caps snipers, prompting people to ask how Ovechkin and company plan to “solve” him. Meanwhile, Washington needs to solve their own goaltender woes: Jose Theodore entered the playoffs with a fantastic record and the support of coach Bruce Boudreau but allowed two goals in two shots in Game 2, prompting last year’s playoff hero, Semyon Varlamov, to take his place. Varlamov is expected to start Game 3 for the Caps first away game of the series.
New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers, Flyers lead series 2-1
- The Flyers resolved a scoreless first period in Game 1 with goals from Chris Pronger and Mike Richards. Travis Zajek put the Devils’ first goal on the board late in the third but even with shots on goal favoring New Jersey 24-14, it was too little, too late for the home team.
- New Jersey failed to capitalize on 4 power play chances, while Philly connected on 1/3 of theirs.
- The Devils placated their home crowd with a 5-3 win in Game 2. Both teams went into the third period tied at 3 until a Zubrus goal at 15:56 put the Devils up by 1. A six-man attack by Philadelphia in the last two minutes failed, and the win was capped off with an empty net goal from Ilya Kovalchuk.
- At home for Game 3, the Flyers took the Devils to overtime before Dan Carcillo scored on a wraparound just 5 seconds after New Jersey’s David Clarkson was released from the penalty box following an interference call.
- Both teams netted power play goals in the first, not surprising as both teams combined for 16 PIMs in that period.
- Despite 2 losses, Martin Brodeur, just announced as a Venzia finalist for the tenth time in his career, has stopped 69 out of 77 shots in the playoffs thus far.
Pittsburgh Penguins-Ottawa Senators, Pens lead series 2-1
- The Sens kept the Penguins at bay in Game 1, never allowing them the lead and finishing up 5-4 in Pittsburgh’s home Igloo. Two of the Pens’ goals were scored by players making their post-season debuts (Peter Regin and Erik Karlsson) and netminder Brian Elliott saw playoff ice for the first time as well.
- Regin was also responsible for the Senators’ lone goal in Game 2 which was equalized later in the period by Sidney Crosby. Kris Letang scored in the third to put the Pens ahead by one, where they stayed through the remainder of the game.
- Crosby has 7 points (2G, 5A) in just 3 playoff games, ranking him 1st in the league. He also leads the league in assists but is 9th among goal-scorers.
- The Penguins are still without late-season acquisition Jordan Leopold. In Game 2, the defenseman was laid out unconscious by a hit from Ottawa’s Andy Sutton late in the first period. Leopold did not make the trip to Ottawa and is still undergoing examinations to ascertain the extent of his injury. Sutton’s hit was determined on the ice to be legal and, aside from Leopold being injured, the issue sparked the best moment of the playoffs yet: