The 8-ball could only finish off one of the two teams that were on the verge of elimination and it was, as expected, the Columbus Blue Jackets that fell to the wayside on Thursday night.
The Jackets ended up losing in a wild, high-scoring game, which wasn't par for the course in this series. The other three games were quite low-scoring, when it was all said and done. The final score in Game 4 ended up being 6-5 for the Red Wings, sending the Jackets home.
The elimination did wipe 19 selections from various teams' sheets, the most popular players being Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda, each taken 4 times, neither of which registered a point.
Everyone was happy to see Columbus making it to the playoffs this year, but I don't know how many people are truly disappointed that they couldn't make it to the second... people in the pool, I mean.
Saving themselves from the dreaded 8-ball, for another night, was the Philadelphia Flyers, thanks in large part to Martin Biron, who pitched a shutout for 4 points in the pool. One of the more amazing facts of this game was, the Flyers had to win in Pittsburgh to send the series back to Philly for Game 6. Biron, shared top honours of the night, with 4 points, but sending the series to one more game was worth getting his picture posted this morning. Biron was taken once in the pool, so his 4 points were not earned in vain.
It was the night of the shutout though, as both Martin Brodeur and Jonas Hiller each earned shutouts on Thursday night. The Devils went up 3-2 in their series against the Hurricanes, as they now go back to Carolina to play Game 6 on Sunday. Brodeur's 4 points went to 10 teams in the playoff pool. The Ducks took a commanding lead in their series against the Sharks, as Hiller made 31 saves in the 4-0 win. This is Hiller's second shutout of the playoffs, but he wasn't chosen for the Ducks' goaltending spot on the sheet, so everyone would be missing out on his points anyways.
Four games on Thursday, four possible game-winning points. How many were counters in the pool, you ask? Two. Only half of the game-winners were able to be collected last night. In Pittsburgh, the Flyers scored their first goal in the second period, thanks to Arron Asham, which stood up to be the winner, thanks to the shutout. Asham is not one of the two goal scorers on the sheet. In Columbus, there was a late power play goal from Johan Franzen to break a 5-5 deadlock, win the game and thus eliminating the Blue Jackets from the playoffs. Franzen, who was conveniently missing from last year's sheet, is on this year and earning a bonus point for 29 teams in the pool. In New Jersey, the Devils only had one goal and it stood up to be the winner on Thursday night, scored by David Clarkson. Believe it or not, there are plenty of other Devils that made the sheet before Clarkson was going to be considered. That means the goal scorer in Anaheim was a pool player and it was Bobby Ryan of the Ducks that helped get the Ducks up 3-1 on the Sharks in their series.
The Hurricanes have tinkered with their line-up for every game, I do believe. Out of the line-up on Thursday was Box 16 forward, Sergei Samsonov, and Box 22 defender, Anton Babchuk. In the line-up went non-pool players, Dwight Helminen and Frank Kaberle. Samsonov has been taken 9 times in the pool and Babchuk was taken 8 times.
You know it's winding down in the first round when there is only one game on the docket in an evening. The Washington Capitals are now behind the 8-ball in their series with the New York Rangers. The Rangers managed to take a 3-1 lead in the series at home at MSG and now the Capitals have a long uphill battle, if they wish to continue on in these playoffs. The Capitals were pretty fairly big favourites in the pool, having 74.9% of their possible picks being taken, whereas the Rangers only had 13.1%. Anyone who has Rangers going forward, saying that they win between Game 5 and Game 7, will have a distinct advantage through another series. This does bode well for them. The game goes at 5pm MT on TSN. No games for CBC, so they get a night off.