Posts Tagged ‘Ottawa’
In the first round, we predicted six of the eight series correctly. The two we were most unsure about were the two incorrect picks – no surprise at all that New York or Los Angeles won.
Now that the second round is here, the picture becomes a little more clear. Only one of the four series will go the full seven games. Which will it be, and who will move on?
The playoffs have been interesting so far. Some teams have surprised me. Others haven’t at all.
The biggest surprise was the play of the New York Islanders. I thought Pittsburgh would wipe the floor with the Isles and that they should feel lucky if they pick up one game in the series. New York ended up staying with the Penguins in almost every game, and lost two heartbreakers at home in overtime. I never thought I’d say this, but the Islanders look as if they are finally turning things around. (Just in time for their move to Brooklyn!)
Another surprise was the performance of the Minnesota Wild. I’m not surprised that they lost to Chicago, but because they got bounced in only five games. Losing their top goaltender didn’t help, but Minnesota’s offense was stagnant the whole series. The Wild also looked terrible in Game 4 as they got shut out at home and handed the Blackhawks all the momentum in the series. Nevertheless, Minnesota looks stable and if they can add another scorer and fix their inconsistency in the net, they should be a force next season.
Speaking of net consistency, here’s Vancouver. The Canucks’ first-round sweep didn’t surprise me at all. They looked flat-out awful against the Sharks. Roberto Luongo started the first two games in net and didn’t look that bad, but then he was pulled for Cory Schneider, who wasn’t an improvement. Vancouver needs to fix its goaltending problem next season, or else they can kiss their fading Stanley Cup hopes goodbye.
Anyway, we’ve said goodbye to eight teams and are now off to the Conference Semifinals. Here are my predictions for the second round.
OTTAWA — The third pick in the NHL draft isn’t such a bad thing to have, you know. Any general manager (most of them, anyway) would much rather have picks No. 1 or 2 than to deal away a chance at grabbing a sure tap-in of a franchise player.
I can recall several years ago interviewing CBC Analyst and “Battle of the Blades” contestant Brad May. He was in the twilight of his career with the Anaheim Ducks. I was in the dawn of my career as an NHL reporter. May was about to visit Buffalo for the first time in several years — perhaps the first time ever as a visiting player. We talked about those great Sabres teams of the mid-to-late 1990s (Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!) and all the great players he once counted as teammates.
Of course, it didn’t take him long to mention Dominik Hasek.
I figured that I’ve had written this by now, but here it goes: Dominik Hasek has announced his retirement from hockey. The Czech goalie last played in the KHL in the 2010-11 season. Apparently he was looking to come back to the NHL. It would be convenient to say that the lockout cost him that opportunity, but more than likely time had simply run out.
Hasek’s fire was rivaled only by his athleticism. The combination made him one of the best goalies of his era, one of the best of all time, and one of the most likely to still be playing in the NHL at age 47. He was simply remarkable.
The NHL is made up of a wide variety of franchises. Some have numerous Stanley Cup titles and legendary players. Others have had decent histories, but haven’t quite achieved the glories of some of their competitors. Finally, there are teams so bad that they haven’t amounted to anything at all or haven’t accomplished anything in years.
These teams are the ones that fascinate me the most. What is it that keeps some teams at the bottom for decades or causes them to choke whenever an opportunity comes along? There are many teams that could take the top prize of the worst in the NHL, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few.