|Posted by Radatz on April 14, 2017 at 12:45 AM|
With even LA media types like Rome hailing the NHL playoffs as the best in any sport, the league didn't disappoint on opening night. All games were available on cable, here at least, and every game was worth watching. It wasn't perfect hockey, as the early rounds almost never are, but it was competitive and exciting all around. The closest things to a rout ended at 3-1 and 2-0 and featured pretty even play. Swings in momentum were huge in some cases. A few monstrous shot advantages didn't produce monstrous goal differentials... or even wins necessarily. Thumbs everywhere got a workout from punching the remote.
Canadian teams returned to the playoffs after a year off, but this opening night the only winners for the northland were the DNPs. Oh well, it's just one game. In general, results were interesting anyway. Most games had an angle and all were either cliffhangers or close. Two teams, Pittsburgh and Edmonton, built good leads but only one held on. We had two OTs.
Boston hadn't beaten Ottawa all year and the odds of their winning a game in which Krejci joined Krug and Carlo on the injury list didn't seem overwhelming, especially away, double especially after falling behind while watching Ottawa pile up a 12-0 shot advantage in the 2nd period. But they did it, coming out with some fire in the 3rd. Rask shucked his playoff rep, playing very well in the 2-1 win. Bad boy Marchand got the winner as the Bergeron line, now sporting Pasternak, pressed hard for a minute straight near the end. Rask saved it with 5 seconds left as Boston lapsed into icing the puck during 6-on-5. But a win's a win.
In the most incongruous result, Minnesota stood all over the Blues for 3 periods but somehow couldn't find the back of the net. In OT anything can happen and did. The Wild teed off for 52 shots and scored once. Great job by Allen, but he had help. From Minnesota. It was reminiscent of watching the Big Bad Bruins being mesmerized by Dryden.
The story of Pitt's 3-1 win over Columbus wasn't Phil Kessel, who had a great goal and a slick skate-assist, it was Fleury. Pressed into action just before game time with Murray going down in warmups, he held off a dominant first period by the BJs and a strong 3rd too. Pitt owned the 2nd and, with Fleury, that was the story. But Pitt's injuries keep piling up. Columbus hits hard and actually held the shot advantage. Tortorella seemed upbeat after the game. We'll see.
Up in Edmonton most of the 3rd and all of OT were hard to watch with both possession and position alternating too fast for anything to develop (and not necessarily the result of good defense), but in that atmosphere SJ suddenly got a way-too-open break in OT and scored the winner. Edmonton came out smoking but appeared to burn out. Still, an untimely broken stick may have cost them a regulation win, but the momentum die was cast. SJ played with a subpar Couture and no Thornton and still took the away game with a dominant 44-19 shot advantage and 3 straight goals. The SJ rout that didn't materialize? Could be. Edmonton too young? Cooould be.
The Rangers didn't exactly outplay Montreal but then the reverse was hardly true either. Shots were 31-31. The difference was Lundqvist who outdueled Price. NY showed the capacity to play even with the Habs. It might just be a goalie series all the way. The Rangers won't be a pushover it seems. If Lundqvist has one more run in him they may be hard to beat in fact.
Categories: NHL Blogs