Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Night 3

Some thoughts on the night of hockey action:
  • Another suspension could be on the way. Friday, Los Angeles' Jarrett Stoll was banned for a game after a hit to the head of San Jose's Ian White. Friday night, Anaheim star Bobby Ryan decided that it would be a good idea to use his skate as a weapon during a battle along the boards with Jonathan Blum of Nashville. Instead of trying to get into the physics of what kind of damage Ryan could do with a stunt like that, let's just lay down the law. The skate is not a weapon, under any circumstances, and this is simply not an acceptable hockey play. Ryan should sit for Game 3 of the series in Nashville, which probably means he'll play. After all, the NHL got the Stoll suspension right, it seems, and the odds of them getting two in a row are not all that great. TSN says Ryan has a hearing Saturday. (For the record, Ryan has a Twitter account, but he made it abundantly clear Saturday morning he was not going to use it to comment on the incident.)
  • As for the game in Anaheim, it was full of 2007 flashbacks, as the Ducks inexplicably got away with flagrant penalties while holding on for dear life against what appears to be a more-skilled team. Yes, they won, and they took advantage of the opportunities given them. However, Predators fans have every right to be upset at how that game was officiated. We'll see how they respond as they get to play at home Sunday night.
  • Another great defensive effort for Washington Friday, and they rode it to a 2-0 win over the Rangers and a 2-0 lead in the series. The Capitals are going to go far if they keep committed to the defensive zone play like they've been so far. Things weren't going their way -- again -- on Friday, but they didn't panic through a rather sluggish first period. Instead, they regrouped during the intermission and got their feet moving more in the second. A goal and a dumb, dumb penalty by Ryan McDonagh later, and it was 2-0. From there, the Rangers -- who were not a good offensive team this season -- just couldn't do much right in the offensive zone. Opportunities were there, but they couldn't take advantage of any of them. Making matters worse, Marian Gaborik looks like he usually looks in the playoffs: gunshy and unsure of himself. Go win a battle, for crying out loud. That's how it works in the postseason.
  • Still waiting for the Penguins to show up for Game 2 of their playoff series. Tampa Bay made them pay for the 60-minute sleepwalk at Consol Energy Center. Now, Guy Boucher needs to get his team ready for back-to-back home games that will probably define their chances of taking down the injury-riddled Penguins.
  • Zdeno Chara, the hulking Boston captain, was hospitalized for dehydration Friday. I think the world of Chara as a player, despite the multitude of stupid things he does when his team is down and out of a game. With all that respect in mind, though, this is starting to look like the kind of unintentional setup for a big-time performance we sometimes see in the playoffs. Guys like Chara have a way of getting ready for must-win games like this, and despite the health issue Friday, I fully expect to see the big man play 25-30 minutes Saturday in a game the Bruins better find a way to win.
  • Looking at Saturday's four games, I think it's reasonable to say that Phoenix is the road team most in need of a win, while Boston is the home team that needs it more than any other. I know Philadelphia's in a hole, but as I mentioned the other day, I think the Flyers are in a better position to rally if they get down in this series because of their experience, firepower, and the fact that Buffalo just isn't good enough to blow someone out of a playoff series, I don't think.

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