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THE ROUNDUP- PLAYOFF EDITION- APR 20/19

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The Leafs are one win away from moving on to the 2nd round, and the Flames hopes are snuffed out in an Avalanche of goals.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 2 BOSTON BRUINS 1- (Toronto leads 3-2)

The Leafs can eliminate the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon after taking Game 5 by a score of 2-1 last night at the TD Garden. Auston Matthews and Kaspari Kapanen scored for the Leafs, while David Krejci scored with the goalie pulled in the last minute to make it close. There’s a lot of discussion about the Matthews goal today, with the Bruins and their fans crying foul over the decision by the NHL’s War Room to not overturn the goal when they challenged it for goaltender interference.

Should this have been called back? Probably. There’s contact, and you can certainly make a case that it prevents Tuukka Rask from making a save. Interesting to note that Rask’s comments after the game differ from coach Bruce Cassidy’s:

I understand the frustration. I get that it sucks when a call that basically is a coin flip doesn’t go your way. But the Boston Bruins aren’t one game away from being eliminated because of a bad call, and you’re not going to find an ounce of sympathy here. Game 6 goes Sunday afternoon at 3PM EDT/Noon PDT.

COLORADO AVALANCHE 5 CALGARY FLAMES 1- (Colorado win series 4-1)

Let’s hear it for the Calgary Flames, who everyone held high as the only team that could stop the Tampa Bay Lightning from skipping merrily to the Cup. Frauds, both of them.

There will be no Red Mile this year. No national media fawning over how they’re ‘Canada’s Team’ and other such nonsense. The Flames got clowned by a team that made the playoffs in the final days of the season, and apart from a first game hiccup, never once looked like they were in danger of dropping another game. Calgary’s much heralded offense? Non-existent. I propose that any references to Johnny Gaudreau’s nickname should be as follows: Using a Jimmy Pesto Sr from Bob’s Burgers: “Johnny Hockey?”. There’s a number of reasons the Flames got their asses handed to them. Defensively, they were as porous as any random game you wanna pluck from the Canucks catalog this season. They allowed Colorado to enter their zone freely, left dangerous players unchecked so often it’s actually a testament to Mike Smith that each of these 4 losses didn’t hit double digit GA.

And then there’s Mike Smith. Sure, he kept them in a couple of these games. I find it hard to give a lot of credit when you make a lot of saves but you can’t make the big one. Part of why teams win the Stanley Cup is they get the saves when they need them. Mike Smith couldn’t do that, and Bill Peters refused to try and give David Rittich a chance, thinking that Smith keeping a couple of these games close was going to help them battle back. Instead, he got ventilated and now the Flames see one of their best regular seasons in franchise history go all for naught. And should you hear any beaking from their fans today about the Canucks, please remember that since losing in the Stanley Cup Finals 15 years ago, they’ve won 1 playoff series. We knew we were gonna suck this year, but it warms the heart to see the over-confident Calgary team go down in flames.

Yesterday I called this the Year of the Upsets and it’s true. Of the remaining series, the lower ranked team leads in 3, and 2 are tied. The 3 series that are over were all won by the underdogs. The 200 hockey men are going to complain, and there will be harumpfing about changing the playoff format. The playoff format needs to be changed, for sure, but at the end of the day, teams like Tampa and Calgary, as the top 2 seeds, had no business losing the way they did. Instead, they were outplayed and outcoached in every facet of the game.

And how about a sticktap for the Avalanche and coach Jared Bednar. They made adjustments following that 4-0 shutout in Game 1 and didn’t look back. They’ll play the winner of the Sharks/Vegas series, and that one should be entertaining as hell to watch. I like the way the Avs play. They’re fast, they’re creative and they’re getting the kind of team effort you need this time of year.