Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alex Burrows: Canadian Hero, and Other Hockey Notes and Thoughts

Classic Game 7 in Vancouver Tuesday night, as the Blackhawks and Canucks battled for more than 60 minutes to decide who would move into the Western Conference semifinals.

It was one of those nights where it looked like a greasy goal or some sort of fluky bounce would end the affair, so it was actually somewhat refreshing to see it end on a snipe job by Canuck forward Alex Burrows, whose line was so good, even going back to Game 6 in Chicago.

Video via Canucks Hockey Blog.

Good on Vancouver, and good on Roberto Luongo, who was on the verge of becoming the scourge of Canucks hockey if he couldn't keep the Blackhawks from finishing off this 3-0 series comeback.

It was a bit of redemption for Burrows, who had a chance to seal the deal in the third period on a penalty shot. He was stoned by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who was matching Luongo save for save after Burrows scored early to give Vancouver the lead.

Chicago's effort was tremendous, but Luongo made some huge stops, including one on Patrick Sharp early in overtime. This wasn't a 5-4 game where Luongo was terrible but his team picked him up. He made huge save after huge save, and this game may end up being more significant than just exorcising the Chicago demons. It showed Luongo can play in the big games. There are no "But he was still shaky" excuses about this one. He was good, and he earned the win.

It was a sweet game and a great series ... also a much more entertaining conclusion to the series than Buffalo and Philadelphia were able to produce. In that game, the Flyers raised their game to another level -- just like they did for most of last year's playoffs -- and their opponent simply didn't have anything for them.

That's not a rip on the Sabres, because it's not like they didn't play hard, but the Flyers contested everything, and they were hustling all over the ice at a pace that Buffalo had no chance of matching. The Sabres' depth was attacked by injuries, and the one guy they did get back -- forward Derek Roy -- looked like he was sliding around the ice in a pair of Sorels instead of skating. He wasn't physically ready for this pace, and it was a huge mistake for Buffalo to put him out there.

Blame Ryan Miller all you want, but it should have been 4-0 in the first period. He kept them in the game as long as he could, but he had no help, and he was screened by teammates on at least two of the goals he allowed. That's not effective defensive hockey. Miller wasn't at his best in this series, but let's be honest. The only reason it went seven was Philly's own atrocious goaltending ... atrocious goaltending we can only hope bites them in the second or third round.

Two more Game 7s on Wednesday, and then we're off to a second round that has virtually no chance of being as good as the first round was.

Tuesday was the eighth straight day with at least one overtime game ... that sets an all-time NHL playoff record.


kmart said...

It actually wasn't Philly's goaltending that made this go seven... two of the three games Buffalo won, Philly only allowed a goal. And each time one of the Flyers goalies imploded, they rebounded to tie the game or win it.

pag said...

nail, meet head.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Yeah, that goaltending was rock-solid today, eh?