The leftovers are all we have to put up with. Sharts, Nucks, B’s and Bolts. And frankly I’m hoping for the second straight year that an Eastern Conference team prevails. I’m not following the games too closely anymore but I am quite disgusted by the amount of diving I see from San Jose and Vancouver. These teams really took some good lessons during their summer camp last offseason with the Argentine National Football team. With this sort of lack of respect and gross embellishments, I wouldn’t be surprised if a “crying wolf” situation broke out and the refs call Livonianative Ryan Kesler for diving when Joe Thornton goes postal and gets straight Thorntuzzi and decks him from behind.
Leftovers to us, sure…but Mike Ricci would call this a damn fine meal.
It has probably been since the 1990’s since I last saw two teams with so much to play for in the playoffs show so little composure. Only Game 1 of the WCF was close and at the end of each game there was the inevitable message sending, intimidation to remind the winning team “we aren’t going away so easily,” pugilism and goonery but targeting the other team’s elite players and just a general feeling that all of the sore loser complexes of all the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues combined have morphed into one supergerm and was spat into the mouth of Joe Thornton.
Also, the goaltending. Yeah, how good has that been this series? It’s a case of “who won’t lose this one for their team?” And frankly it’s awful to watch. Sure, there are some great, miraculous saves; but there are some really soft or even mental-breakdown-type goals allowed as well. The Luongo giveaway in Game 1 was avenged, but Game 2 and 3’s losing goal tenders each had a serious problem stopping pucks headed between their legs. Fear of a serious injury? Maybe. But I feel like this is too big of a stage to showcase some very average and, at times, pathetic goal tending.
Which brings me to the East. Roloson has been incredible. Even in the Game 2 loss he kept the Bolts in it early as the powerplay for Boston was really clicking. Tim Thomas’s 31 save shutout in Game 3 was the most impressive goaltending display in this year’s Conference Finals, not just because it has been the only shutout thus far. Of course, as I’m writing this it’s 3-3 in Tampa for Game 4 and Rolo has been pulled. Maybe I shouldn’t jinx people quite so much. My friend from the Buffalo area I used to talk to did tell me that his father used to refer to Dwayne Roloson as “Red Light Roloson” though so what do you expect? Good goalie but has the potential to be super inconsistent.
You know who was a great goalie this year though? Jim Howard. I’m very proud of his effort and look forward to him backing us for a while. He was hungry for the Cup this year and was very focused, and remained calm even through all the crap San Jose tried pulling with the snow showers and interference. We should all feel confident with Howard backing us up. Tough to pin any loss on him, even though he wasn’t perfect. Better than a typical Red Wings team needs, given our history of playing much better defense than we did this year. If we could just give up fewer shots next season, I really trust our goalie.
All that being said, is there any safe bet left in this postseason? I like Tampa because they’re pesky and can score in rapidfire succession. Sean Bergenheim is setting all time NHL records for mancrush acquisitions as he approaches his goal total for the entire regular season in only 3 rounds of playoff hockey. Rolo needs to remain great to outduel Thomas, but either way I like what’s coming out of the East this year. That’s helped by the fact that I have a coworker who likes the Nucks and acts like Montreal fans did a year ago when they made it as far as they did. Then there’s the Sharts, and who honestly can watch Joe Thornton hoist the Cup without vomiting? Or Dany Heatley take a victory lap without hoping he loses control…again? Ugh. And to think that would mean Antii Niemi is a back-to-back Stanley Cup Champ as a starter. Gross.
Anyone else have any preference at this point? Anyone else still watching with mild concern?