Well, the New Jersey Devils have now been booted from the playoffs, as you can plainly see from my brand new animation that I made on Thursday night. It's a new idea on an old tradition of getting ushered out of the playoffs.
The Devils were unceremoniously knocked out by the Flyers after a 3-0 shutout win on Thursday night, thanks to a 28-save effort by Brian Boucher, capturing a 4-point night for himself. Daniel Briere scored the opening goal, which turned out to be the winner thanks to the shutout, and added an assist for a 3-point night, while Claude Giroux scored two goals and added an assist for his 3-point night.
So, let's review the series in terms of the pool, shall we? Of course. By the decisions of the hockey pool, this elimination of the Devils is considered an upset, moreso than just the standings itself. The Devils held 62.5% of their possible selections in the pool, meaning 105 selections were eliminated from active play because of this series. The most popular Devils player in the pool was Tomas Zajac, who was taken 25 times in Box 17, while 13 teams have lost Martin Brodeur, the 3rd-favourite goalie in the Eastern box. The leading point-getter for the Devils, unofficially (because I will do an audit at the end of the 1st round) was Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 2 goals and 4 assists in the series, taken twice.
Adios New Jersey, have a nice summer!
Well, thanks to the overtimes in Pittsburgh, the Blackhawks and Predators game was the third to start, but the second to finish on Thursday night. To follow suit with the rest of the West, the Blackhawks did manage to tie up the series at two and we'll be going at least six games in this series as well.
The Blackhawks also managed to win 3-0, but the shutout was not credited in the pool, as Antti Niemi continues to be the bane of this pool's existance with another start, another win and a shutout to boot. The big pool player of the game was Box 4's Patrick Sharp, who scored a pair of goals, including the winner for a 3-point night.
It was ages for that Senators/Penguins game to finish, but the Ottawa Senators went against the natural convention of the first time in the conference to finish and everyone follow suit, as they stayed alive for another game, beating the Penguins in triple-overtime on Thursday night. So, the series will shift back to Ottawa for Game 6 on Sunday, thanks to big games from Daniel Alfredsson, Erik Karlsson and Mike Fisher, who all finished with 2 points a piece for the Senators. We'll be seeing everyone again for Game 6 on Saturday, which likely means even more points for a guy like Sidney Crosby, who still had 2 points in the loss.
Finally, in the late game on Thursday night, it was the Sharks who absolutely dominated their opponent for the evening, beating the Avalanche 5-0 at home at the HP Pavilion. The Sharks offense has been criticized during the entire series about not being able to turn up the juice when it's needed the most, but this performance obviously saw to that fact in fine fashion. The Sharks even managed to chase Craig Anderson from the Avalanche net midway through the 3rd period. Evgeni Nabokov finally scored some big points as the goaltender on record for this game. He made 28 stops, including 17 in the 3rd period, for his 1st shutout of these playoffs. That's a cool 4-point effort right there.
Our first series-winning goal (no, there are no extra points for that stat) came from the Flyers/Devils series and that was Daniel Briere who earned that distinction last night. Briere opened the scoring for Philadelphia and the rest of the team pounded the Devils into submission. Matt Carkner was the triple-overtime hero for the Senators and there is no bonus for how many overtimes it took for your player to score, plus Carkner isn't on the Sheet, so you're out of luck there. In Nashville, it was Patrick Sharp that scored the game-winner/series-tying goal for the Blackhawks. The popular Blackhawks player made a lot of people happy by keeping the Hawks within strinking distance of their series enemy and picking up that extra point. Finally, it was non-pool forward, Logan Couture who opened the scoring for the Sharks, in the 3rd shutout of the night, his goal stood up as the winner, stealing that extra point away from a good hard-working team in the pool. For shame!
Our pool leader, Tony, failed to pick up a game-winner on Thursday night, so he stayed at 7 GWGs in these playoffs, but he now has company, as Russ D. also hit the 7 GWG mark in the pool. That's a good little race there, isn't it? I am also now happy to report that every team in the pool has a GWG to their credit and no one has been left without.
It's time to give the ol' 8-Ball another shake this morning, trying to see what the future holds for the Montreal Canadiens against the Washington Capitals tonight. It's Game Five in Washington and the Capitals hold a commanding 3-1 series lead going into action tonight. The Habs are going to need a fair bit of magic to get out of this pickle alive. The Canadiens were not favoured to win this series by any stretch of the imagination, they were huge underdogs going into this series, according to the number of picks in the pool, so it shouldn't come as a shock that they are likely going to be eliminated tonight... and if not tonight, before Game 7.
Nicklas Backstrom leads this series in scoring with 9 points, scoring 5 goals, including a winner and adding 3 assists.
There will be a big number of happy poolies if the Bruins can knock out the Sabres on Friday night. The Sabres are surprisingly behind the 8-Ball against a Bruins team that was being written off due to injuries and goaltending concerns. Well, the concerns went away when Tuukka Rask started playing out of his skin and Ryan Miller became human again. This series wasn't at all a landslide in terms of the picks in the pool, but the Sabres did have a decided advantage, so it will be a key upset in the pool. We'll see how any teams survive the 1st round with 24 players still on their team. I don't wager it will be many.
Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are the series leaders in points, picking up 4 points each so far. If Boston is going to make it through tonight, you would have to expect these two to be good again tonight.
Two more Game Fives go in the Western Conference on Friday night, as the Red Wings will storm the Jobing.com Arena to try and steal the game away from the Coyotes, while the Canucks return to the friendly confines of GM Place to host the Kings. These two games will be known as tipping points for either series and both should be awfully entertaining.