The last of the Leafs
I mentioned to a friend of mine that I'd have the Leafs-Hurricanes game on tonight, despite the plethora of action taking place. To which he said, "Um, does Toronto stand a chance against Carolina?"
Probably not, although the game is at the Air Canada Centre and Toronto's coming off a win over the last-place Pittsburgh Penguins, so you never know.
So, why am I watching? Well, Toronto really only has three, maybe four, losses left in them this season, and with 15 games left, they could drop those games rather quickly. (Toronto has two must-win games against Montreal on Thursday and Saturday.)
In short, this week could be the last of the Leafs. And, for the first time in eight years, the nut factory that playoff hockey in Toronto creates won't be in operation.
I don't really have a preference either way, but it makes for compelling drama.
Toronto 1, Carolina 0
7:04 into the first period. Maple Leafs' rookie Alex Steen picks up his 16th goal on the power play, which gives the Winnipeg-born son of Thomas 35 points in 61 games so far this season. He's a keeper. (Anyone else find it strange we're watching the sons of NHL players we used to watch? Anyone?)
Toronto 1, Carolina 0
8:30 into the second period. Whew, things are a little sleepy here. I'm switching over to the bloodbath that the Vancouver-Edmonton contest should be.
Vancouver 2, Edmonton 0
Things are looking good, really good, early for the Canucks, as they came out skating and hitting hard. A surprise goal from Trevor Linden opened the scoring on a nice passing play by fourth-liner Josh Green, and Daniel Sedin connected on an Anson Carter pass shortly after on the power play.
Toronto 2, Carolina 2
I knew this would happen. You did, too. Switch to another game and — zappow, action cometh. Toronto has just taken a penalty with just under ten minutes to play in the 3rd period, so things could get interesting.
Toronto 3, Carolina 2
Final. Jason Allison scores a power-play goal late in the game to beat the Southeast Division leaders.
Atlanta 5, Boston 4
In a shootout. How deep did this one go? Jim Slater scores the winner for the Thrashers and the Bruins' final shooter is Brad Stuart. It's not quite Marek Malik territory, but it was close.
Nashville 3, Detroit 2
In a shootout. As the Detroit Fox announcer said: "there won't be any seats... in the seats."
Pavel Datsyuk scores one of the nicest shootout goals of the year on Tomas Vokoun, leaving the Predators goaltender somewhere up in those seats, but the captain Steve Yzerman's goal draws the biggest cheers from the crowd. There were a ton of goals in this one (7 on 12 shots), more than I think I've seen in any shootout this year.
Too... many... good... hockey... games.
Vancouver 4, Edmonton 1
Final. A decisive road win for the Canucks, who looked markedly more composed than the team that embarassed themselves at home to Detroit two nights earlier. The Oilers had themselves in all kinds of penalty trouble, but given how inconsistent Vancouver has been this season, I wouldn't be worried about the loss. At the very least, they'll win one of the games on the Pacific coast.