I certainly never imagined my first-round picks would go 6-2. In fact, I'm pretty much wiping sweat from my brow after what we've seen. If I heard correctly from the Versus broadcast of the Bruins-Habs Game 7, Wednesday marked the 9th consecutive night that an NHL Playoff game went into overtime. Why the whole "wiping sweat" thing? Three of those games -- Wednesday included -- were three of the four games the Bruins won.
Still, that Boston-Montreal series was one for the ages, and that legendary animosity between the two teams was still there, helped along, no doubt, by Zdeno Chara's careless hit back in March. And certainly more fuel was added to the fire with teh hit by on in Game , Andrew Ference's little salute to Canadiens fans in Game 4, and I'm sure Montreal is rallying the cops over Jeff Halpern's run-in with Ference's shoulder in Game 7. And I'm sorry... someone needs to explain to me how that could be a suspension-worthy hit.
But, man... how about that Nathan Horton. OT winners in back-to-back games in the Garden. You can't make this stuff up.
Oh, yeah... and speaking of animosity, The Bruins open up the second round on Saturday against Philadelphia. That's going to be a nasty, nasty series. Some wounds don't heal quickly... only four wins will erase the memory of last year's unholy collapse.
Other First-Round NotesWashington advanced over the Rangers... my first *bzzzt* of the Playoffs. New York just couldn't match up, and for the first time in years -- dare anyone say it? -- Washington's goaltending might actually be for real.
Rough night for the throngs of Pittsburgh fans packing the R Bar last night for their game 7 against Tampa Bay. Dwayne Roloson? Really? Clutch? Who knew? Stats don't lie... dude has never lost a game seven. After that Southeast Division battle they had against the Caps in the regular season, this Caps-Bolts series could be a classic that goes the distance.
Out West, we almost saw a Game 7 collapse after a 3-0 lead for the second consecutive year, after the Vancouver Canucks' wheels seemed to fall off. Luckily for them, Roberto Luongo got his groove back before Chicago could finish the job. Despite the loss, the Blackhawks proved they still have goaltending that can win in the Playoffs, despite the financial and front office fustercluck that sent Antti Niemi packing.
Nashville finally turned the corner and won a Playoff series for the first time, pounding the Anaheim Ducks early and wearing them down (although Corey Perry got some really good licks in during the series). This sets up an interesting goaltending battle, and a good matchup between a tough and (uh-oh) rested Preds team, and a Canucks team that just faced down one hell of a test.
One year ago, the San Jose Sharks knocked off the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. Doing that again could be a tall task. Detroit rolled over an overmatched Phoenix team, and will only get tougher with the expected returns of Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. This San Jose team is not the Phoenix Coyotes, though. If they can take advantage of home ice, control the game and rattle Jimmy Howard early, history could repeat itself. I think this sucker definitely goes six or seven games.
Okay... quick picks (let's see if my luck holds up)...
Bruins in 6
Bolts in 7
Canucks in 7
Sharks in 7 (I don't know... maybe it's wishful thinking, but I'm sticking with it).
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