Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Game of the Playoffs

It's 2:35 a.m. in Toronto, and we're headed for the start of the third overtime in Game 3 of the Oilers-Sharks series. What a game. What an effort by this Edmonton club. All of the passion, all of the effort that was seemingly missing earlier in this series is here now... I'll update below once the game ends.

Oilers 3, Sharks 2 (3OT)
San Jose leads series 2-1

— City of Edmonton

Holy momentum shift, Batman.

Early on, you could sense this was the Oilers game to lose.

Terms like 'heart-and-soul' only begin to describe how Edmonton came out tonight, and a loss in triple overtime would have been absolutely devastating. Instead, we have a series — the only one that's going to be really contested in the second round.

Here's Eric Duhatschek, who was up late writing a game story in Oiler land early this morning:
So the Edmonton Oilers, going into the first and then the second and then the third overtime period of Wednesday's instant playoff classic against the visiting San Jose Sharks, knew exactly what was at stake.

Win and get themselves right back in the series.

Lose and start polishing the golf clubs.
It was only fitting that Ryan Smyth assisted on Shawn Horcoff's winning goal, as it was Smyth whose face was shattered by the puck in the second period, only to have the gritty winger return with a mouth full of heavily medicated, horror-flick calibre material. Despite the fact his face was one good smuck away from looking like Sloth from Goonies, Smyth logged 34:24 icetime — second to only Horcoff among Oiler forwards.

That was nothing, however, compared to Mr. Orbs himself, who played a stunning 47 minutes, stepping off the ice only when teammates forced him to take a wipe-the-blood-off break.

I'm just glad we have a series. Can't wait for tomorrow's game.

The more you know
Edmonton: Colby Cosh, The Battle of Alberta
San Jose: Sharkspage, The Mercury News

Hurricanes 3, Devils 2
Carolina leads series 3-0

It's stunning, really, to me that the Hurricanes have a 3-0 lead on what was the hottest team in the NHL coming into this series. Unbelievable really.

But, after watching quite a bit of Games 1 and 2, I'm afraid this Carolina club has just been horribly underrated all season.

If Doug Weight is on your third line, that's a great team.

The biggest difference in this series has been the team's power plays, with everything the Hurricanes have thrown at Martin Brodeur on the man advantage coming up gold. Carolina is a ridiculous 8 of 18 on the power play in this series, a 44.4 per cent success rate.

The Devils are 1 of 16, or 6.2 per cent.

All of the criticisms that said this New Jersey team's offence wasn't deep enough to win the Cup were well founded. And now they're done.

Sabres 3, Senators 2 (OT)
Buffalo leads series 3-0

"Why does their shot go in and our shot go off the post? Watching those games, I don't think one team deserves to be up 3-0 or down 3-0."
— Jason Spezza

While that might be true, this is a script that seems awfully familiar to Senators fans.

Outplaying teams and losing in the playoffs? Been there, done that.

Despite the fact this team has had a remarkable makeover since then-netminder Patrick Lalime let in two awful Joe Nieuwendyk goals in Game 7 of the first round of the 2004 playoffs, they play with that same weak-kneed apprehension as every Ottawa team before them.

It's too bad really, but, then again, I know I'm not giving Buffalo enough credit, something that has been a theme all season.

Before the year, I predicted the Sabres out of the playoffs, saying they'd finish in 9th in the Eastern Conference. Then, in the first round, I picked an obviously overmatched Philadelphia Flyers club to beat the Sabres in six games. In the second round, I erred yet again, saying Ottawa's superior defensive talents would win this one in six.

That's not going to happen.

And since I'm oh so tired of being wrong about this team (they were the only club I picked to lose two rounds who will win both), I might as well just say it: Buffalo Sabres, 2006 Stanley Cup champions.

Considering Buffalo was the one NHL city I visited as a fan this season, I'm guessing more teams' fans are going to want to have me as a good luck charm in their rinks.

Or something.

Go Sabres!

Oh, and I think The Hammer is rather excited about the prospect of seeing Dominik Hasek play in Game 4. (Not gonna happen.)


At 7:31 a.m., May 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No. You cannot start predicting good things for the Sabres. That goes completely against the "underdogs with a chip on their shoulder" thing they've had going. Please remove that from your blog. Thank you.

At 8:39 a.m., May 11, 2006, Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

I read somewhere yesterday that some Dallas fans are cheering lustily for les Sabres - since "the goal" the Stars have failed to get back to the top of the mountain and lately have begun to fail miserably in the postseason. Their belief - a curse that can only be lifted when the Sabres get theirs and hoist the Cup denied to them by Brett Hull's chicanery.

Great post James - unlike you I was never sold on the Devils at all but every team I picked except Carolina is trailing badly so there you go ...

At 8:42 a.m., May 11, 2006, Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Read it on Off Wing.

At 3:48 p.m., May 11, 2006, Blogger Tom L said...


Thanks for finally coming around to seeing the truth... :)

And, BTW, the phrase is "Vive La AGH!"



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