For those anxiously awaiting the time that we don't feel compelled to sit inside and watch hockey, rather than going outside and enjoying the lovely spring weather, the NHL is moving the playoff picture right along. As the Jets and Predators finished off the 2nd round of the playoffs last night, the Eastern Conference Finals kick off right away.
Braden Holtby versus Andrei Vasilevskiy
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals goes at 6pm MT tonight and the battle will be quite the slugfest and it features a pair of goalies that will have to absorb a lot of rubber, if their team wants to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
At the beginning of these playoffs, the difference between these goalies, matched up in the pool was (and still is) miles apart, as Andrei Vasilevskiy bettered Braden Holtby on paper, 12 selections to one, and one would have to think that the curse of the Capitals making it past the 2nd round had a lot to do with that, not to mention the Lightning being overwhelming favourites in the East at the start. Now that the Caps have made it past the Penguins and into the Conference Finals, the play on the ice can be judged far better and this match-up, as it has played out so far, is far more intriguing and is shaping up quite well. The Lightning still have to be considered the favourites, but the Capitals are poised behind some solid goaltending of their own and have the ability to play spoiler.
More importantly, in the hockey pool, the race has been boiled down to a couple of teams, Tony and Neil's teams. In this series, they are both sitting on Vasilevskiy, two of the 12 teams to do so. That becomes a wash in a hurry.
|19||Alex Killorn||Andre Burakovsky|
|22||Dmitry Orlov||Dmitry Orlov|
|23||Anton Stralman||Brooks Orpik|
|24||Andrei Vasilevskiy||Andrei Vasilevskiy|
Overall, in this series, this is how these two teams match-up. Neil could go for a quick Tampa Bay blowout, hoping that the two of the team's cornerstones amp their game up and help to close the gap on Tony's team in the standings. This race might not be over just yet!