Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Storylines on Wednesday Morning

Watching last night's Canadiens and Penguins game, Montreal was hanging on well to a scoreless tie through to the 3rd period, especially as the aggressor in the 1st period, outshooting Pittsburgh 7-3 in the opening frame.  But the "hold on and capitalize on your opponent's mistakes" theory wasn't quite working in Game Three, as the Penguins really limited their mistakes and really kept the pressure on for the most part.  A late 2nd period penalty to Hal Gill was the undoing of the Canadiens strategy, as Evgeni Malkin scored on the power play early in the 3rd period to unlock the tie and the Canadiens had to play from behind.

The Canadiens were unable to drum up a lot of offense in the 3rd period, only scraping 8 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury, as the Penguins added a late-game empty net goal and the flightless birds came away with a 2-0 win in Game Three, taking a 2-1 series lead into Thursday night.

Fleury was indeed the star for the pool, picking up a whopping 4 points for the shutout, which was superb for the 17 teams that picked him in the pool (the most popular Eastern Conference goalie).  He only had to make 18 stops for the goose egg and now has a boosted confidence to play with in Game Four as well.  Malkin was the only other player to hit multiple points with the eventual game-winner and that was enjoyed by 21 teams in the pool.

Game Four does go on Thursday night and the Montreal Canadiens are hoping to split their own home series, so they are not behind the 8-ball going to Pittsburgh.

Before the game started, it was announced that Box 18 forward Bill Guerin would not be participating in Game Three because of an undisclosed injury, which is very popular among the Penguins brass. Of course, there was no update about his condition or whether or not he'll be made available for Game Four on Thursday. Guerin has 14 selections in the pool this year, so there are a lot of unhappy campers in this series, but they will have to be patient for word on Thursday.

Speaking of 8-balls, the Detroit Red Wings were unable to make good on their first home ice game of the series against the San Jose Sharks, despite owning the play for 40 minutes.  The Red Wings had a 3-1 lead going into the 3rd period, which in previous years would have been a bit of a lock for the veteran, defensively-minded team, but a big power move by Joe Thornton and a bad angle squeaker by Logan Couture ended up tying the game in the 3rd period and we finally had ourselves some more overtime in the playoffs.

The Red Wings were fairly defiant on the Sharks and their play, but that wasn't going to be enough, as Thornton and Patrick Marleau came storming down on the Red Wings net on a 2-on-1 and managed to play the rush to perfection for the game-winner, just over seven minutes into the extra frame and the San Jose Sharks have a 3-0 series lead, giving the Red Wings a giant hole to try and climb out of.

It was another game where 2 points was enough to get you some credit on the blog as the best players on the ice.  Marleau did score the winner for his only goal of the game, Thornton had a goal and an assist on the winner and Evgeni Nabokov picked up the win for the Sharks.  For the Red Wings, Henrik Zetterberg managed to pick up a goal and an assist in the game, making his presence felt yet again.

The long road back into this series starts on Thursday as well for the Red Wings, as they get one more chance to prove to their home fans that they are not out of it yet, but the Sharks smell blood in the water and can finish them off with a lot of time to spare with one more win.

Tonight's Games

The series between the Bruins and Flyers can draw some good parallels to the Sharks and Red Wings series, as the favourite team took their home-ice advantage, won both their games and now travels back to their opponent's home rink for Game Three.  The Bruins have the chance to steal a win in Philadelphia and take a 3-0 series lead of their own, while the Flyers will try to use their own rink as a backdrop for two wins of their own.  This has been a messy & physical series and going back to the rocking atmosphere of the Wachovia Center should help that along nicely.

It's the same cast from the previous preview that continue to lead the scoring race in this series, as Mike Richards, Daniel Briere and Dennis Wideman each have 4 points in this series.  For the amount of scoring that has actually happened in the first two games, it's somewhat surprising that 4 points is still the best out of the two teams in the pool and that the team that is down 2-0 in the series has two players, while the leading team only has one with 4 points.  I suppose you can say that the Flyers really aren't out of this one, eh?

In the later game of the evening, the second Western series draws it's parallels from the first Eastern Conference series, as the Canucks return home to Vancouver with a split in Chicago, looking to build on their own home-ice advantage.   The Blackhawks did well to come back from an early 2-0 deficit in Game Two to earn the split in the series and momentum may be a little on their side, if at all.  Vancouver has been a tough place to play in the playoffs, just ask the Kings, but the Blackhawks should be up to the task and it has potential to be an excellent game.

Mason Raymond is the outright leader in scoring in this series with 4 points for the Canucks.  He's picked up a pair of goals (including the Game One winner) and an assist for his tally in round two.  Two Blackhawks lead their side in pool scoring, as Kris Versteeg and Brent Seabrook have 3 points, thanks to their Game Two efforts on Monday night.

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