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T O P I C    R E V I E W
The 4th Line Banger Posted - 04/24/2010 : 07:43:25
I don’t care what anyone says, NHL playoff hockey is the best hockey for pure entertainment value. Sure, the Olympics and other International events are great, but are pretty one dimensional in the game. Its offensive skill and that is pretty much it. The NHL playoffs have a physicality that is missing in other competitions that makes it, at least for me, the best hockey anyone can watch.

Although I am an Oiler fan, each year they don’t make the playoffs gives me something that many others don’t get. I don’t have to be bothers with disappointment in the playoffs. I’ve had mine through the regular season; this season had more disappointment than others. I can watch each series with nothing in mind other than to be entertained by good hockey. If I don’t like the hockey, I change the channel. Granted, I would like nothing more than to see a parade on Jasper Ave with Lord Stanley’s Mug the highlight of the event. At the same time, it is a totally different perspective when one can watch the playoffs without a vested interest in who wins or loses.

With that, here is my latest “Top Ten” from the playoffs to this point:

10 – Although the Refs have been highly inconsistent with their calls between different series, it has been quite fair and equal for each team in a series. The only call (of the various games I have watched) that could be considered a completely botched job would be Daniel Sedin’s disallowed goal in Vancouver and that was the Boys in Toronto, not the on ice officials.

9 – Craig Anderson has easily made every single dollar of his $1.5 million contract this season. He faced more shots than any other goalie in the NHL all season (7th most all time) and then comes into the playoffs and faces 207 shots through 5 games. He is the ONLY reason the Avalanche did not get swept. How he was not included in the Vezina is sick. He made more saves than Brodeur had shots against. Should have been Miller, Bryzgalov, and Anderson.

8 – The Capitals finished the season with 4 of the top 21 point producers in the NHL and the league’s top Power Play proficiency. How is it even possible for that powerhouse squad to have only 1 power play goal in 24 opportunities? For the reverse, how does Vancouver, with one of the league’s top keeper’s and an above average group of defensive players (including a Selke Nominee) have a barely better than 50% Penalty Kill?? In both cases, Vancouver and Washington are easily the better team in the series. Perfect examples of how impactful special teams are in the playoffs.

7 – Where are the head shots??? Where are the blindside hits?? What seemed to be a nightly occurrence through the regular season has all but disappeared in the playoffs. Sure, there are still the ‘borderline’ hits, but what happened to the blatant dangerous hits?? It sure seems the intensity and frequency of hitting has increased in the playoffs and there has yet to be a player (that I am aware of) taken off the ice because of a questionable hit.

6 – I wonder if Lou Lameriello is looking for a refund on Kovalchuk??? He says he wants to keep the high scoring Russian, who really did play well in the 5 games against Philly and lead the team in scoring, but is it possible??? He’s got about $15 million of cap space and at least 8 rosters spots to fill out. Does Luo have the stones to give Kovalchuk the money he wants?? Stay tuned.

5 – What happened to Duncan Keith?? A guy who is many people’s Norris winner and who was the best defensive player on a Team Canada loaded with talent and he’s looking like a fish out of water???

4 – Quietly, San Jose has been getting better and better every game. Without Anderson in net for Colorado, this series was over 3 days ago. I think this is actually a good thing for San Jose in the later rounds. The ability to persevere through this brick wall in net will serve SJ well against the powerhouses later on.

3 – Alex Ovechkin has just 16 shots in 5 playoff games. Based on his season and career average, he should have about 28 shots. Here is the kicker; he is right on pace or slightly ahead with 5 goals. Could it be possible that the guy is learning that the key to his success is not quantity but quality of shots??? That could be a scary thought. He has the chops to go down as one of the best of all time. To this point, there is the very legitimate ‘look at the number of shots he takes’ argument. The same argument that often plagues Phil Esposito. However, fewer shots of higher quality and it will be Bossy that Ovechkin is compared to.

2 – Phoenix won’t go past the 1st round, but good for them for showing up. Sure, we all want the NHL back in Canada but those fans in Phoenix deserved this. They didn’t do anything to any of us and they love hockey. After all that time in Arizona without a playoff game, it would have been a shame to see them bounced in 4 games and not win anything at home. At the least those fan will get three home games (maybe 4) and entertaining games at that. If the team does happen to leave, for what ever reason, at least the die hard Coyotes fans will have had this experience. I am happy for each and every one of those 4 fans. I wonder what the other 16,996 people that have shown up for the late season and playoff games in Jobing.com Arena do when they are not jumping on and off the bandwagon??

1 – Sidney Crosby – Best Hockey Player on the Planet!! 14 points in 5 games is Lemieux and Gretzky levels of performance. Did anyone else notice that in 5 games and 118 minutes of ice time Ottawa has not scored?? Crosby has been on the ice for 14 goals for (to which he had a hand in every single goal) and zero against. Crosby has been in on 70% of the scoring for Pitt, leads Pitt forwards in time on ice, has taken just one penalty, has won nearly 60% of his faces off, AND tossed Alfredsson on his junk like he was a pee wee. All I can say is WOW! Problem is it looks like he is going to have to be even better if Pittsburgh has a chance to win another Cup. I sure hope the God’s of Hockey find a way to give us a Pittsburgh/Washington East Final. It would be a series for the ages.


Have a Great Week End.

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