The Conference Finals are upon us. Both series got off to good starts for two teams Sunday while the other two teams will try to even it up tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks played a sound game and got a great effort by Niemi to win 2-1 in the first game of the West finals. The San Jose Sharks now are down 0-1 and really need to take game 2 tonight in San Jose to avoid getting into a really tough situation heading back to Chicago. Besides one goal early that went off a Blackhawk defender, the Sharks were blanketed by great goaltending and a good effort by the Chicago defense to take care of 2nd chance pucks. Despite Chicago getting ZERO powerplay chances and San Jose getting 5, the Sharks did not capitalize and a couple of average goals by Chicago won the game. Both Joes will have to show up for game 2 tonight, neither got much done in the first game. As far as the game tonight goes, both teams will probably try to push the game offensively. Both of the teams will be trying to strike early and often, as San Jose will probably think a offensive shootout might give them a better chance. Traffic in front of Niemi will probably increase and Nabokov might get some personal visits from big Byfuglien in his crease as both teams will try to disrupt the goalies and get loose pucks.
Out East, the two surprise teams got off to a much different start then what most would have probably expected. The Philadelphia Flyers got pucks and traffic around the Halak, and chased him from the game on the way to a 6-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. I strongly feel that Montreal has the advantage in net in this series, but in game one the Flyers just appeared to want it more and surprised me. With the carousel of goalies going around in Philly, it seems like no matter who is in net the Flyers still have a chance. I still expect the Canadiens to win this series, but it could be interesting. Montreal will try to get their PP back to firing on all cylinders, as it was a big factor in them getting through the first two rounds.
As I finish this up, the Flyers are up 1-0 after the 1st period. The game is on Versus and game 2 of the West finals starts at 10PM EST/9PM CST on Versus as well. Enjoy puck heads!!!