Some thoughts on NHL playoff hockey:
- Been busy with real job matters and real life matters (nothing serious, I promise, but enough to keep me going and away from the blog a bit). Also trying to recharge batteries a bit after a hectic UMD season, and facing an offseason that hasn't really started yet and won't until we solve the coaching/early departures puzzle for good.
- Anyway, you have to appreciate the gutsy road efforts we've seen in recent days. Boston in Montreal, San Jose in Los Angeles, Washington in New York, Anaheim in Nashville (though there was nothing gutsy about that hit on Martin Erat), and Detroit in Phoenix (though the crowd was split there). Road teams tend to do well in the playoffs for whatever reason, and this year has been no exception to that rule.
- How much did Ilya Bryzgalov lose with his four-game performance against Detroit? It was, as Charles Barkley says, trbl. 17 goals allowed, plenty of softies, and Bryzgalov never was able to make that big, uplifting save, a must when you're giving out soft goals like Halloween candy. The pending free agent played some awful hockey when his team needed him most. That's hardly a way to close out the walk year, is it?
- I don't root for franchise relocation, but if there was ever a situation where it was generally okay, it was in the Phoenix/Winnipeg drama. Yes, plenty of people in Arizona have taken to the sport thanks to that team's presence, and there are some really dedicated fans who will (probably) be out a team at some point this spring/summer. That's sad for those people. But this team never should have left Winnipeg in the first place, and if they're going to move somewhere, let it be to the place they never should have left. I can be okay with that.
- Give Washington a lot of credit. Plenty of grit, effort, and intensity, and while it looked like they were on the verge of folding when the Rangers went up 3-0, they regrouped during the second intermission and came out strong in the third period. They were the better team most of the game, and deserved the result they got. It was also entertaining to see Marian Gaborik assist on the Caps' game-winner. Perhaps that wasn't so entertaining for Ranger fans, who spent most of the game taunting Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau with hilarious chants, including the top dog, a "Can You Hear Us?" blast late in the second period that had me in stitches. So the Rangers might not be that good, but their fans came to play Wednesday night.
- Anyone else on the edge of their seat for a potential San Jose-Detroit rematch in the second round? I'm excited. Oh, and Pittsburgh-Washington looms if there are no upsets in the East. Yeah, that might be enjoyable.