NHL Playoffs Update - 04.20.08
Wild head home, Bruins and Caps' See Tomorrow
Hockey fans love April as the Stanley Cup Playoffs give us something to look forward to every night as each game gets bigger and bigger as the NHL Playoffs roll on. Pro Hockey Fans staff writer Kevin Chaves brings us his latest update on the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What an insane Saturday night to watch hockey. Three teams needed to win to eliminate their opponents, but only Colorado succeeded. All of the games showed incredible last-minute finishes with Boston and Washington both surviving to play another day.
Game 6 – Colorado Avalanche 2 - Minnesota Wild 1
Jose Theodore won this series for the Avalanche with his stellar play and outstanding on-ice leadership. He ended Game #6 with 34 saves, only allowing one goal. Every single player on Colorado played to their potential during the series unlike their opponents. Minnesota’s Marian Gaborik only registered one point, and it came in the game that eliminated the Wild.
The game was aggressively played but yet, only saw four penalties, three of which were Minnesota’s fault. Ben Guite scored a first period shorthanded goal that took the Avs into the locker room with the lead after the first.
The Wild scored very early in the second period with Gaborik finally getting on the score sheet, with an assist. Where has this guy been the whole time? Ryan Smyth gave the Avalanche the lead again later in the period, to prove Gaborik’s effort came too late.
Thanks to Theodore’s unbelievable saves in the final minute, Colorado advances to the next round, awaiting on their next opponent.
Minnesota clearly failed to win this series because of the lack of production from the players they most depend on. Gaborik accounted for eighty-three points in the regular season, but only got one in the playoffs; even Keith Carney had two. Also, Pavol Demitra managed only three points, which averages to half a point a game.
Compared to Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg of the Avs who totaled eleven points, the Wild did not “bring it.” Experience prevailed in this series.
Not matter what, goaltending was excellent for both teams, and if not Niklas Backstrom, the Wild would have been eliminated much earlier.
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Game 6 – Boston Bruins 5 - Montreal Canadiens 4
Montreal has quickly gone from looking like a contender to a pretender. Saku Koivu played tonight for the first time in the series with hopes to stop the Bruins from stealing another game. On the other end, Phil Kessel has proved coach Julien wrong for benching him earlier in this series.
Kessel scored the goal of the series, making a fool of Montreal’s D and Carey Price to tie the game at that point at 1-1. Moments later, Tomas Plekanec scored a beautiful break-away goal as he jumped out of the penalty box, setting a strong tone to the game giving the Habs a lead for the second time. Then an explosion of offense came in the last half of the third period.
The last ten minutes of this game saw five goals, three lead changes and one team eventually win, the Bruins. Alexei Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn notched zero points between them in this game and combined for a disgusting minus six.
Game #7 goes to Montreal Monday night, and the way this series is going, anything can happen. If the Canadiens want to win this, their power-play must get on track. After finishing the season with a near 25% scoring rate on the PP, they have only scored two goals in this entire series.
There is an interesting irony and history in this playoff match-up. Coach Julien coached the Canadiens a few years back and the Habs were trailing the Bruins in the first round three games to one. He led them back to win this series in seven. Now Julien coaches the Bruins and was trailing in this series, three games to one, heading to Game #7.
On Monday, the world will see if he can continue his history of comebacks, this time, as a Bruin.
Series tied 3-3.
Game 5 – Washington Capitals 3 - Philadelphia Flyers 2
Alexander Ovechkin did not put him name on the score sheet, but the Capitals still won this fast game. This game was all about speed and momentum swings and this series keeps getting more entertaining. The Flyers allowed two power-play goals and failed to end the series in five games because of their lack of discipline.
The first period was dominated by the Caps’ who out-shot the Flyers 12 to 4, but only scored one goal. Again, Martin Biron’s un-earthly play kept Philly to only a one goal deficit.
It was not until the 3rd period where the Flyers decided to participate in the game. They hammered an amazing twenty-one shots in the period, while the Caps’ only had six. Alexander Semin did give Washington a two goal lead, but less than a minute later, Derian Hatcher tied it up, swinging the momentum again.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, they spent four of the last ten minutes in the penalty box making it a lot harder to get back in the game. All praise and recognition to Cristobal Huet, who played an impressive third period and held off the last-minute riot of shots from the surging Flyers.
Philadelphia Flyers lead series 3-2.
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By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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