The NHL bid adieu to a couple more teams yesterday, and that list could grow substantially as Phoenix and Los Angeles fight for their playoff lives tonight against Detroit and Vancouver respectively. There might be a couple series' that go the distance, but the Canucks and Kings ain't one of them.
Game 6 in Los Angeles and a cautious but confident Canucks team is in LA to seal the deal tonight. For all the talk that the Kings were in the Canucks heads, especially the last game it looks like the complete opposite. While the Kings spent most of the last couple games trying their hardest to get the Canucks to take penalties, they'd probably be better off taking the penalties themselves, as they're doing somewhat better on the PK than 5 on 5 against the Canucks.
The Sedins and Mikael Samuelsson have been on a tear, and with the Canucks getting contributions from 3 lines and the defense, The Kings will need not just an inspired effort tonight, but better goaltending and defense than they've been getting. LA's strategy really seemed to unfold as the Canucks brought that consecutive PP goal streak to end and regained their confidence. Since then it's been a fairly one-sided series, with Vancouver attacking LA in waves and the Kings struggling to compete. Will it be a closer game tonight? Of course, I don't expect them to go down without a fight. The key for the Canucks is to play a smart, disciplined road game. Withstand the initial onslaught, then take the fans out of the game and end it tonight.
The Kings will be without Rich Klune (day to day, karma) while the Canucks will be without Aaron Rome and Nolan Baumgartner. They've called up Lawrence Nycholat from Manitoba, who could see action over Andrew Alberts tonight. Nothing's been said as of yet, but with Nycholat averaging something like 30 minutes a night for the Moose in the playoffs the Canucks may want to give him a look. And that's not a knock on Alberts so much, who had a steady, solid game Friday night going +2 and adding an assist.
The Canucks look like they might be hitting their stride, injuries and all. As opposed to years past, the Canucks have a bit of a different look, more offensively minded. They also have a difference in goal. They're not relying on Roberto Luongo to be amazing, he just has to be good. That just might be the change that enables this Canucks squad to move deep into the post season. They're not looking past the Kings, and will be ready to bring the regicide to it's fateful conclusion tonight.
So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen my friend...
The NHL said goodbye to a couple teams last night, both of whom had no business being in a game 6 but still scared the hell outta the teams that ousted them. The Ottawa Senators had lots of jump after that triple overtime victory in game 5, but blew a 3 goal lead thanks to a couple goals from
Sidney Cr Matt Cooke. Pascal Dupuis got the OT winner for the Penguins as they move on to round #2.
The San Jose Sharks finally managed to win a first round series, but considering the trouble they had with the Colorado Avalanche, the victory is a moral one at best. They bounced back nicely from a couple disastrous losses and didn't really look dominant until last night, but I am not going to declare any kind of success for the Sharks unless they make the 3rd round. A team that dominant in the regular season should go deep, anything less is a disappointment.
Chicago took the lead in their series with Nashville in a wild and controversial finish. The Hawks had built up a 3-1 lead before the Predators came storming back to take a 4-3 lead and late in the 3rd the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa appeared to seal their own fate by getting a 5 minute boarding penalty for a dangerous shove from behind on Nashville's Dan Hamhuis. The officials chose not to kick Hossa out of the game for the hit that was eerily similar to the one that Washington's Alex Ovechkin had on the Hawks' Brian Campbell. The outcome was better as Hamhuis was able to skate off on his own, though. The Hawks pulled their goalie and scored the tying goal with less than 14 seconds left when Joel Ward blew his coverage in front, leading to an easy tap in for mulleted douchebag Patrick Kane.
The Hawks killed off the rest of the penalty in OT and then pissed all over karma as a lucky bounce landed on Hossa's stick for the easy tap in. Someone said God hates Nashville, this result was proof. I am inclined to agree. It's all Billy Ray Cyrus' fault, and now they're being punished. Game 6 goes Monday in Smashville.
The Phoenix Coyotes will be looking to extend their Cinderella season to a 7th game as they travel to Detroit this afternoon. The Coyotes will hopefully get some good news as there's a possibility they could get Shane Doan back for today's game. Since Doan's injury the spark has definitely been missing from this team, and his return could give them what they need to force a 7th and deciding game in the desert. Unless Nashville regroups and pulls off the upset, the winner of this series will face the Sharks, while it a Chicago victory Monday sets up a possible Canucks/Blackhawks rematch. We need to do our part and eliminate the Kings tonight and take advantage of a couple days rest and healing.