NHL Playoffs: Round 1

The playoffs have been a thrill so far. Who’s a contender…and who’s a pretender.

Eastern Conference

Washington took care of the New York Rangers in 5 games. Washington looks really good right now. They are scoring goals and are getting solid goal tending at the right time.

The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres in seven games after winning last night on home ice. The Eastern Champion of last season had a tough battle with the high flying Sabres. Buffalo came into the playoffs with a hot streak and the Flyers had just enough to hold them off. Goalie Brian Boucher is playing some incredible hockey and he out dueled Ryan Miller to move on to the next round.

The feisty Montreal Canadiens are giving the Boston Bruins all they can handle in the opening round. Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri scored and the Canadiens forced a decisive Game 7 with a 2-1 victory over the Bruins.

Playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pittsburgh Penguins have failed to win the deciding game in their last 2 chances. Meanwhile, The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the last two games while facing elimination, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to tie the Penguins and force Game 7.

Western Conference

The Anaheim Ducks were eliminated by the Nashville Predators in six games. Nashville is playing pretty good hockey considering they don’t have many premier players on their roster. The Ducks had no goaltending all year and it continued during the playoffs. The loss of Hiller really hurt this hockey club.The Predators will have their hands tied with a solid Detroit Team next round.

Detroit Red Wings swept the Phoenix Coyotes. Really, no contest here. The Red Wings were just the better hockey team. Goaltending is a little shaky late in games but Howard should be pretty good going forward. Nicklas Lidstrom was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the 11th time in 13 seasons. Detroit’s star defensemen has won it seven times.

San Jose Sharks take care of Los Angeles Kings in 6. The Kings played really good hockey but the Sharks survived a late Kings power play and Joe Thornton scored in overtime to lift San Jose to a 4-3 win.

Vancouver Canucks/Chicago Blackhawks

So far, this has been the best playoff series of the year. #1 seeded Vancouver took a strong 3-0 lead in the series before coughing up three straight games to the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Chicago evened the series at 3 a piece. Last night in Vancouver, both goalies, Roberto Luongo and Joey Crawford were spectacular. In the end, Roberto Luongo was part of a huge penalty kill and Alex Burrows came up big at the biggest time for the Canucks. Burrows netted a goal in OT to win the series 4-3. Jonathon Toews tied the game with under 2 minutes to play (shorthanded) in an incredible second effort. What a series. It will be interesting to see where the Canucks go from here.

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