uMARLBORO, NY – Today, I’m going to piggyback on Different Matt’s column from Friday regarding the NHL Playoffs, by saying the opening round has been listless at best… and that’s coming from a huge puck-head like myself. As much as I love the great game of hockey, I just can’t help at marvel over the lopsided nature of these first round series.
The West Coast was a clean sweep and if you’re looking for a bit of a sleeper to win the Stanley Cup it’s the San Jose Sharks who totally dismantled the Anaheim Ducks. This series had all the looks of a six or seven game affair and the oddsmakers had Anaheim as the slight favorite in the series. The Sharks look as complete a team and have bench boss Peter DeBoer who is no stranger to the Stanley Cup having lost as coach of the Devils and Sharks. Goalie Martin Jones is as underrated as they come in the NHL and can/will steal games on his merits.
The Sharks are flying under the radar because of the feel good stories that are the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets. Vegas took the brooms out on the Los Angeles Kings in a tightly contested four game sweep but they only scored seven goals in the four games thanks to a pair of 1-0 shutouts by Knights goalie Marc Andre Fleury. You make your own luck but this overachieving bunch will have to put the biscuit in the basket more frequently to beat San Jose in the next round and I say the magical run ends with the Sharks winning in six.
If you’re looking for a nasty series, the New Jersey Devils-Tampa Bay Lightning series has had the most action after the whistle-lots of jousting and hands to the face “mushes” in mini scrums to keep the referees earning their paychecks. The Devils have looked solid but Tampa goalie Andre Vasilevskiy has been equal to the task when the Devils start to tilt the ice in their favor. It just looks like it won’t happen for the Devils, however.
Things have been going according to Hoyle, as Different Matt reminded us, but I need to pontificate on one team for a little bit and that is my beloved Boston Bruins. They looked crisp in Game 1 but started getting a little sloppy even with a 7-3 Game 2 win. What happened on Thursday night has me thinking, “Why not us”? In a pivotal fourth game up 2-1 in games and the Toronto Maple Leafs swinging momentum in their favor, the Bruins announced shortly before game time that Patrice Bergeron, arguably the best two-way player in the league and Bruins leader, would sit out with an upper body injury. I was deflated to hear of the injury but the same way the Bruins did all season it was next man up and they all did their jobs in a game won by Tuukka Rask. Going forward, you will need your best players on the ice and my only hope is it’s not a concussion Bergeron is dealing with because those things linger.