Day-15 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:
THE MAPLE LEAFS 50-MINUTE (NOT SO-EXCELLENT) ADVENTURE: It is the mantra of every hockey coach–from Pee Wees to the Pros, “it’s a 60-minute game.” Sometimes players buy into and sometimes fans forget about it. So, imagine the jaw-dropping truth being experienced by the Maple Leafs bench and the fans who had exited TD Garden early as the Bruins took the full 60-minutes–and then some–to pull off the most unlikely comeback in recent memory.
And of all people, Patrice Bergeron who had been under the microscope for failing to finish in the previous six games, erased a 3-goal 3rd Period deficit with a seeing-eye wrist shot through traffic…and then jumped on a rebound in Overtime to give Boston a dramatic 5-4 Game-7 victory! “It’s one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of it,” exclaimed Bergeron. “We found a way. Not necessarily the way we would have liked to play the whole game, but we showed some character.”
So if the Bruins showed some “character” what does this monumental collapse say about Toronto: “I thought we ran out of gas,” noted Leafs Coach Randy Carlyle. “Losing is tough. And losing the way we did, there’s nothing you can say to explain how and why it happened. We couldn’t seem to execute in the end. We just didn’t get it done.”
Now let’s see if the B’s can get it done in their 2nd Round Series with the Rangers, in a match-up of “Original-6″ franchises and two cities that have no love lost for one another.
THE STATE OF HOCKEY! That was marketing slogan when Minnesota returned to the NHL fold. However, considering that all three franchises made it to the Playoffs, and two still survive (the Ducks apparently did not get the memo) the current STATE OF HOCKEY IS…CALIFORNIA!!!
Furthermore, Round-2 pits Northern CA v. Southern when the Kings roll out the welcome mat for the Sharks this evening for Game-1 of their Western Conference semi-Final Series. The growth of the game in a “Non-traditional” hockey market cannot be denied.
”I think it’s an incredible thing for the state of California,” said Sharks coach Todd McLellan. “The extreme growth and passion that this community has, and I’m sure it’s the same down South, that’s a result of the three teams having some success – playing late, becoming young hockey players’ heroes and contributing to the community. So if we can continue that trend – obviously we will, because one of these two teams is going to go on – I think it’s a great thing for the state.”
And Kings Captain Dustin Brown also recognizes how hockey has seeped into the consciousness of S0Cal fans (believe me, this used to be just a Dodgers and Lakers town) and the level of expectation that comes with that: ”I think it’s a great thing for California to get these two teams in this situation. It’s the perfect time for it because of how well hockey is doing. We know what’s at stake after what we did last year, and they know it as well.”
As for the series itself, I think the worst thing that happened to the Sharks was the time off they earned by sweeping the Canucks. No amount of practice can duplicate the intensity that the Playoffs demand. Plus, Jonathan Quick–since his brain cramp in St. Louis–has re-established himself as a force to be reckoned with…and San Jose never faced that from the combo of goaltenders that Vancouver threw at them.
So, Your INKTIME ON RINKTIME PREDICTION IS: Kings in 6
IF IT AIN’T BROKE: Wise move by Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma to stay with the man who saved them at the dance, as Tomas Vokoun gets the nod in tonight’s opener. The First Round unexpected marathon against the Islanders has Bylsma and his team returning to the Playoff necessitated shift-by-shift approach: ”We started with 30 teams, then 16 and now we’re down to eight. And now we’re moving on focusing on winning the next four.”
The simple fact of the matter is that the Senators don’t have anywhere near the foot-speed that the Isles possess and the Pens proved once again that they can adjust to any style the game dictates. And the one guy the Sens will rely heavily on is very much aware of the Pens prowess: ”If we start getting off the same page and doing our own thing they’ll start to burn you,” said Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson. ”But if we stick together and stay on the same system and play on the same page we should be able to limit the number of opportunities we give up.”
However, a reality check is that the Sens haven’t been able to dictate over the course of a Series with Pittsburgh in the past…and it’s not going to happen consistently enough now, either.
Your INKTIME ON RINKTIME PREDICTION IS: Penguins in 6
UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen
|Ottawa||at||Pittsburgh||7:30 PM EST|
|San Jose||at||Los Angeles||10:00 PM|