For hockey or sports fans who hid under a rock the last few days, the NHL playoffs kicked off last night with 4 games, and it was a great night of hockey! There was a pair of games from each conference adding up for a solid 5-6 hours of hockey for fans of the game to watch. What made the night more exciting besides just the greatness of NHL playoff hockey, was that it was full of “upsets” in the eyes of most fans. Sure in the playoffs, anything can happen. But the team that was picked by the majority of fans to win their respective series lost the Game 1. Here are some quick thoughts:
The Ottawa Senators took advantage of soft play by the Pittsburgh Penguins and so iffy play by Fluery to win 5-4 on the road in Game 1. I picked the Pens in 5, and I still think they win this series, but they will have to clean it up a bit. Ottawa got scoring from their 4th line, and for one night it did not matter that the top line did not do much. Also both teams got a pair of PP goals. If Ottawa’s PP can play at this level, they can make it interesting.
In the other East game, the Philadelphia Flyers get sold play in net and take the first game on the road from the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Boucher was great in making 23 saves on 24 shots and his defense did a good job of helping him out. I did not get to see more then 15-20 mins of game time of this match-up, but from what I did see it looked like Philly played the game they wanted and got just enough offense. This looks like it could be the low scoring series people predicted and 2 or 3 goals could win the game during most of these games.
In the West, most predicted the Detroit Red Wings to beat out the Phoenix Coyotes even though Phoenix is the higher seed. Someone forgot to tell the Coyotes as they look advantage and scored 3 power-play goals to win 3-2. This was a great game and might have been an eye opener for some fans who did not get to see the Coyotes much this season. Sure the Red Wings came in really hot, but Tippett has the Coyotes playing that defensive and physical system near perfection. Very physical and rough game, it was great to watch, especially since the Red Wings lost.
And in the last game of the night the Colorado Avs went into the Shark tank and stole one late from the San Jose Sharks 2-1 with a goal in the final minute. The Avs played their game and stuck to their fore-checking, and got some help from Blake, who used to play for the Avs, as the game winning goal went in off of him. San Jose just looked content to just keep playing an even game and looked to be playing at about 70% to me. Now again fans and media are questioning if this is the start to another playoff collapse. Both teams looked at times during the game, but the Avs played their style better and were able to slow the Sharks stars from being big factors in the game.
The playoffs continue tonight with three more games, and there could be more magic and late game heroics. It is what the NHL playoffs are about, and it is why even somewhat lackluster games can get interesting late. And it is why the NHL playoffs are the best.