If the people around the country are not watching the NHL Playoffs yet, they need to get their priorities straight. For the third straight day, I have been glued to the TV during these games. The worst part about it is two games being on at the same time and switching back and forth and risk missing something. The games last night did not disappoint, and for Bruins fans, there was a lot to like.
The Ottawa Senators saved their best for last being down 2-0 after giving up both goals in the second period. They came out in the third, got a goal about halfway through the period and then with less than 30 seconds left and the goalie pulled, tied it up. In a series with a lot of bad blood and a game the Canadiens needed to win, Ottawa came out and got down but showed a lot of class and fought back. The game was physical, but was not a fight filled affair like the last game with these two. Obviously I am most invested in the Bruins series as a fan, but all the games are good and the way teams are coming back late is amazing to watch. Plus as a Bruins fan, who doesn’t love watching the Canadiens blow a lead and lose a must win game. Another story came out surrounding this series that I found funny. A school in the area of Montreal told the kids to wear their Canadiens gear to support their team in the playoffs. One of the students showed up in an Ottawa jersey which drew a lot of attention and even got the girl called into the principals office. The principal gave her the option to take the jersey off or put on a white shirt over it. The girl told the principal that she was going to wear the jersey and did not take it off which led to her being sent home. The Ottawa owner heard about this story and flew the girl and her family out for the game last night in Ottawa. I thought that was a classy move for the Senators and love that the good karma came back to them.
Another shocker last night was how Marc-Andre Flury just fell apart late in the Penguins/Islanders series. This was a very good game and a high scoring affair. The Islanders took a lead late in the first period and the Penguins answered 45 seconds later. This seemed to be the theme of the game. Islanders would score, Penguins would respond right away. Late in the third, with the Penguins leading 3-2, Kyle Okposo backhanded the puck behind the net at Flury who was out of position. The puck went off of Flury and in the net which tied the game at 3 going into the third period. This was the beginning of Flury falling apart in front of everyone watching on national TV. In the third period, surprising to nobody, the Penguins came out and scored early to respond to the late second period goal by Okposo. That would be the last that we would hear from the Pittsburgh’s offense. Marc Streit would tie the game 4-4 a few minutes later with a goal that Flury probably should have had. About 6 minutes after the Islanders tied the game, John Tavares, who is turning into the superstar people expected him to be, scored a goal on a rebound of his original shot. The rebound was another bad opportunity given by the Penguins goalie. With the Islanders up 5-4 the next goal had to come from Pitt. But the Islanders, late in the third on a half breakaway, would just get a puck on net and Flury once again completely lost it and let the puck just slide on the ice, off his blocker, and in. Flury had his head down the rest of the game, which is how he should feel with a performance like that. With the series now tied at 2 going back to Pittsburgh, it looks like the Penguins need to make a goalie change and give 36 year old Tomas Vokoun the start if they hope to advance against the 8 seed Islanders.
There were two Western Conference games last night. I was going back and forth between the two, but the Chicago and Minnesota game was not anything to get too excited about, unless you are a Blackhawks fan. The Blackhawks came out, scored early, and dominated the whole game. They gave Minnesota a lot of power play opportunities, but the Wild have yet to score on the power play this playoffs and that is key to making a deep run. With many missed opportunities, the Wild would get shut out and go down 3-1 to the Blackhawks with the series returning to Chicago.
The other Western Conference game was the Sharks and the Canucks. The Canucks were down 3-0 and playing in San Jose. They needed to win the game to stay alive, and they played hard to give themselves a shot. A day after Kevin Bieksa complained to the media about the Sharks embellishing calls, the Canucks had to show up. Bieksa took a lot of justified criticism considering his team invented embellishing calls. If Vancouver isn’t diving on the ice, they are complaining to the officials. Bieksa heard it from the San Jose crowd being booed every time he touched the puck. With San Jose starting the scoring early, they would take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. In an uneventful and scoreless second period, the Canucks would have one more period to keep their season alive. Halfway through the third, Vancouver would score twice in short succession and take a 3-2 lead. But with under 5 minutes left, Sharks would get a power play and take advantage to tie the game and force overtime. Overtime hockey in the playoff is always so good, and any hockey, fan outside of Vancouver, was hoping for a sweep of Vancouver. Midway through the period, Daniel Sedin took a penalty for boarding. Sedin and the Canucks were outraged due to the hit being clean. But that is just how it works with a team like Vancouver, they play chippy, they dive, and they cry about everything. The one time they have a good hard hockey hit, they get penalized. This would ultimately be the end of their season because Patrick Marleau would score on the power play to send the Canucks to the golf course and back to Sweden.
This is only the first round of the playoffs, it is only going to get better from here. Tonight is a huge night for the Bruins and they need to come out and play like they did in games 1 and 3. If they can manage to win the game tonight, they have all the momentum going into game 5 and should be able to advance. But if they come out slow and let this game get away from them, Toronto can make this series a lot more interesting. The Bruins need to be on top of their game and be consistent, because the road ahead is not going to get any easier regardless who they play.
About the Author: I am a Freelance Production Assistant for Comcast Sportsnet and former New York Rangers intern. I am an enthusiast of all sports and want to share my knowledge with those who are interested in reading what I have to say. Follow me on Twitter @ shmity91
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