NHL – Playoff update

20 May

The NHL playoffs have been a crazy ride so far this season, especially in the Eastern Conference where the 2 bottom seeds wound up playing for the conference title. The Philadelphia Flyers are amazingly back from the dead and in control of their series with Montreal so far. Since trailing 3-0 in game seven in their previous series, the Flyers have scored 13 unanswered goals in coming back to win that game, and posting back-to-back shutouts over the Canadiens. That’s back-to-back shutouts with a journeyman backup goaltender playing. Michael Leighton has played well since taking over in the nets for Philly, but I feel the team’s success is more a product of the players’ smothering defensive style around him. They’ve protected him well, keeping the Montreal shooters outside and around the edges and clearing the sightlines for Leighton to make saves by bulldozing any Canadiens’ players that dare try to block his vision. That’s usually a recipe for success in the NHL playoffs, along with timely scoring. In the West, The Chicago Black Hawks have continued to be road warriors, winning twice in San Jose to open the series and extend their road playoff win streak to seven. San Jose has a horrid history of playoff failure, and even though they’ve advanced to the final four, all it took was losing those 2 home playoff games to the Hawks to bring out the critics once again.   The Sharks are still a powerful team and I expect them to win in Chicago and make this series competitive, but it is starting to look like the Stanley Cup final will again be a battle between an “Original Six” team (Chicago) and an “Additional Six” team (Philadelphia).

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