Thursday, April 10, 2008

2008 Playoffs: Round 1, Day 1

The good news? Pay your cable bill, friend, because the best hockey month of the year is upon us. ... For the Canadian male April is like Christmas without the bills and inlaws, with two meaningful games on television every night for two weeks.
I love this time of year.

There's no way I'm going to be ambitious enough to do a roundup every night of the postseason, but since this was Day 1, here are a few musings on the four games.
  • The best period I saw was the third of the Minnesota-Colorado tilt. The Wild don't open it up very often, but when down by two, they had to and it made for great hockey. And Joe Sakic's terrific to watch in the postseason, every year.

  • Jose Theodore got shelled and looked pretty good.

  • The Senators were easily the worst team on opening night. Very, very little to like about their game in this one, other than perhaps the play of Marty Gerber in goal, and it's going to be an awfully short series if Pittsburgh runs away with Game 2. Tom Benjamin's right: What on earth happened in Ottawa?

  • I was glad to see the Flames win, if only to back up Matt Fenwick's optimistic (and well-reasoned) guide to why Calgary can win. He could have just written "Jarome Iginla" and not heard a word from this corner.

  • Speaking of Sharks-Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff was terrific there, continuing his strong play down the stretch. His overall numbers this season are nothing to write home about, but perhaps this will be a case of him finding his game late and against his former team?

  • No sooner did I say "Todd Fedoruk's on the power play?" than the big lug potted the Wild's tying goal. Jacques Lemaire knows what he's doing.

  • Is there a worse player for Ottawa to lose than Anton Volchenkov? He wasn't looking well after taking a puck to the face. (Minnesota's Mark Parrish also looks like a write-off after a hard check put him head-first into the boards.)

  • I saw the least of Rangers-Devils, but part of what gave New York the win was exactly why I picked them as a dark horse in the East: A lot of the Rangers' success late in the year has come as the result of some fine performances from unheralded youngsters, guys like rookie Ryan Callahan, who had the winner here on the penalty kill. Marc Staal was No. 2 in minutes on the back end and Dan Girardi was fourth (and he was plus-3 on the night). Brandon Dubinsky, who joins Scott Gomez as a native Alaskan, has also excelled down the stretch, giving New York some badly needed depth at forward. Very quietly, Tom Renney's turned this team into a defensive powerhouse. (Benching Marek Malik?)

  • If Sean Avery has a postseason that looks like it did tonight, he'll be a highly coveted man on the free-agent market July 1.

  • I still say the Wild have more underrated young talent than any team in the league. Brent Burns is terrific, as are Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. They'd all be household names — and first-liners — on Canadian teams. Jim Sheppard, 19, looks like a keeper, too.

  • Speaking of underrated: Michal Rozsival. Heck, Kurt Sauer's having a great year, too.

  • Derek Boogaard played a record nine minutes without punching a soul.

  • Gary Roberts has 14 of his career 32 playoff goals against Ottawa, a team that came into the NHL in his seventh NHL season. No wonder Eugene wanted him.

  • Players who were minus-3 on opening day: John Madden and Paul Martin.

  • The Flames' disputed third goal, where Iginla bumped the net, was a good one, and I hope the league makes that call every time. As long as the goal doesn't leave its position before the puck's on its way in, count 'em.

  • Speaking of which, that was a situation where Brian Campbell should have (but couldn't) knocked the attacker on his can. Advantage Dion Phaneuf.

  • CBC's Steve Armitage liked saying 'fro-hawk' a little too much. Maybe he can work it into every postgame interview.
That's about it.

Day 1, ice time leaders

Forward
Calgary: Iginla 23:32
San Jose: Thornton 23:03
Minnesota: Koivu 25:50
Colorado: Stastny 26:19
N.Y. Rangers: Gomez 20:03
New Jersey: Madden 19:22
Ottawa: Heatley 26:13
Pittsburgh: Malkin 19:32

Defence
Calgary: Phaneuf 28:42
San Jose: Campbell 27:07
Minnesota: Johnsson 32:58
Colorado: Foote 25:41
N.Y. Rangers: Rozsival 25:08
New Jersey: Martin 22:31
Ottawa: Phillips 21:16
Pittsburgh: Gonchar 26:44
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11 Comments:

At 9:23 AM, April 10, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

Ottawa is the dynasty that never was.

 
At 9:40 AM, April 10, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

Seems like Leaf fans have spent all year telling people that the senators suck.

Glad that people are finally listening.

 
At 9:57 AM, April 10, 2008, Anonymous wake said...

Those are massive minutes from Heatley, considering the game didn't go into overtime and wasn't close late.

 
At 10:44 AM, April 10, 2008, Blogger Costa said...

Sucks what happened to Volchenkov. For the love of god, NHL, make face cages mandatory already!

 
At 11:02 AM, April 10, 2008, Anonymous Anshu said...

Seems like Leaf fans have spent all year telling people that the senators suck.

They also said the Leafs would make the playoffs. Hard to take them seriously after that...

 
At 11:05 AM, April 10, 2008, Blogger ben said...

Best moment of the night? Owen Nolan looking like he was probably going to eat Steve Armitage in order to get to the cup.

 
At 11:41 AM, April 10, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

I hope Costa is being ironic.

 
At 12:42 PM, April 10, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

Im a Rangers fan, but Rosival actually played a pretty bad game yesterday. He may be underrated across the league, but he is overrated amongst Rangers fans/media. He is not as offensively gifted as people seem to suggest he could be - he does not have a great outlet pass. And he's not particular strong defensively either - he benefited from playing with Malik when he was at the top of his game, and now he's playing with Stahl, a rookie who is head and shoulders above him defensively already.

Underrated on the Rangers is Dan Girardi, who's come out of nowhere to be a very good defensemen - physical, smart, with decent offensive instincts.

 
At 1:02 PM, April 10, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I nominate the Minnesota - Colorado series as "most likely to have a quadruple overtime game."

 
At 1:30 PM, April 10, 2008, Blogger mc79hockey said...

I nominate the Minnesota - Colorado series as "most likely to have a quadruple overtime game."

I've done some research on this before. The best predictor of this, in my view, is finding teams playing one another that play ES with few goals for/against. Colorado and Minny don't stand out in this regard. Rangers/Devils is probably the smart money bet.

 
At 9:22 PM, April 10, 2008, Anonymous Lars said...

You see Whitney jump in to protect Crosby after the slapping exchange with Redden? Isn't that like having your sister step in to save you?

 

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