Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chicago Blackhawks come back to win the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals

The Chicago Blackhawks played a nail biting third period yesterday in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings after a bad call during the third period of their tied game pushed the game into over time.  The Blackhawks and the Red Wings pushed the pace during Game 7 last night in Chicago.  With a scoreless first period, both teams had opportunities on each end of the ice, although the Blackhawks had out-shot the Red Wings 13-11. Moving into the second period the Blackhawks continued to dominate and their stretch passes finally paid off as they landed the puck in the net taking the lead 1-0. The Blackhawks had continued to out shoot the Red Wings in the second period.  The Red Wings brought the heat in the third period, looking to redeem the one goal game.  Zetterberg scored to tie the game during the first 26 seconds of the third period – Crawford, goaltender for the Blackhawks, never moved from the crease leaving a wide open net undefended.  If the Red Wings had played with the same pressure they brought during the first minutes of the third period this might have been a different Game 7 for them.  In the final minutes of this tied Game 7 it appeared that the Blackhawks had claimed the game winning score but the Official in the neutral zone was waving off the goal. The goal was waived off due to coincidental minor penalties that happened behind the play prior to the goal.  This bad call could have been detrimental to the Blackhawks playoff dreams but the Red Wings were given a second chance to win Game 7 with only 1:24 minutes left it was still a one goal game.  The game was pushed into overtime.  Brent Seabrook landed the puck in the back of the net 3:55 minutes into over time and the game was won by the Blackhawks.  After the bad call during the third period it was concerning that the Blackhawks would lose the opportunity to go to the Conference Finals but we were reassured that there are HOCKEY GODS and the correct team still won!!! After losing three straight games and in danger of elimination from the playoffs the Blackhawks had an exhilarating  come back to win the series last night sending the Blackhawks to the Conference finals against the Stanley Cup defending champions, the LA Kings.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

L.A Kings advance to Western Conference Finals

The LA Kings held the San Jose Sharks off last night during their critical Game 7 of the series.  Thankfully the game was won in regulation and not in quadruple over time like NBC Sports Network Studio analyst Keith Jones predicted.  In this series the team that has been able to score first goal was the team that won the game and there was no acceptation to that last night.  For the first time in this series the Sharks took the first penalty but it was quickly followed by a penalty from the Kings which lead to 4 on 4 play, during a scoreless first period.  Both teams were pushing the pace last night, getting off to a great start with scoring opportunities in the offensive zones on both ends of the ice.  The Kings opened up scoring in the second period on the power play by Justin Williams.  Williams again scored during an odd man rush, and claimed a 2-0 lead over the Sharks.  The Kings had taken advantage of a bad line change and mistakes that the Sharks were making to gain a 2 point lead.  The Sharks had held the Kings shot opportunities to just 3 during the first period but in the second period the Kings were out shooting the Sharks 7-11. The Sharks re-surged during the 3rd period, out shooting the Kings 13- 4.  Dan Boyle cut the Kings lead in half with his shot that beat Jonathan Quick to the net.  The Sharks just could not find a way to beat Quick despite out shooting the Kings in the third period.  Quick had an outstanding performance in Game 7 and was a major key to the Kings victory. The LA Kings will move on to the Western Conference finals and play the winner of the Detroit Red Wings v. Chicago Blackhawks match-up, who will play their Game 7 tonight in Chicago.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference Finals

James Neal ends the Pittsburgh Penguin’s series against the Ottawa Senators with a hat trick and Tomas Vokoun, who started the playoffs on the bench, is credited with all four wins.  Five on five or four on four, this Penguins team is dangerous and they overwhelmed Ottawa during most of the series.  Tonight was yet another game where the Penguins had quality chances and ran up the score 6-2, against the Senators in Game 5 winning the series 4-1.  The Senators took too many minor penalties against a team with great depth and strength on the power play. Alfredsson called it; the Senators were no where close to coming back from their loss in Game 4. Neal along with Morrow, Letang and Malkin scored and 5 other players had assists for the Penguins.
The top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins will move onto the Eastern Conference Finals and play the winner of the Boston Bruins v. New York Rangers series that is currently underway.  The Bruins lead the series 3-1 and will play Game 5 against the Rangers in Boston on Saturday. This early end to their series will give the Penguins the rest they will need going into Round 3, whether they face the Rangers or the Bruins the Penguins will appreciate this rest after a shortened season and a tough series.  The Penguins can dominate offensively and they have been able to wear out their opponent with their depth.  With great leadership in Crosby and great goaltending by Vokoun the Penguins will push to win the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

The Rangers come back in Game 4

Game 4 was fight or flight for the New York Rangers who were down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins and in danger of elimination after one more loss. The first period got off to a lackluster start for the Rangers, even giving up a penalty early on in the game and working to kill it off, both teams were playing a pretty safe game.  The first period ended scoreless.  The start to the second period revealed a Rangers team that appeared to be accepting their series shut out, they weren’t might better than during the first period.  The Rangers were digging a hole with their two early period penalties.  The Bruins worked the puck into the Rangers zone and scored 4 minutes into the second period. Then Krug claimed the second power play goal for the Bruins and the Bruins took a 2-0. Then in a fluke, Tukka Rask goaltender for the Bruins, appears to trip over his own feet letting the puck slip by him into a completely open net. That goal was a momentum changer for the Rangers and re-energized the stadium.  The Rangers, a team that appeared to be ready to lose Game 4 shifted into game mode late in the second period.  After that unfortunate stumble by Rask, he regained his composer in the net to block a flurry of shots from the newly confident Rangers.  Early in the third period the Rangers received another gift from the hockey gods and scored on the wrap around with basically no defense yet again to tie the game 2-2.  Derek Stepan swooped in on the forecheck and picked the puck right off of Zdeno Chara’s stick to wrap into a completely empty net.  The Bruins came back to take the lead 3-2.  And then the Rangers get another opportunity and scored their first real goal of the game to tie the game again. The Rangers battled back from a 2-0 deficit in a game where the Bruins should have put a nail in the Rangers coffin.  The game entered over time and the Rangers scored to come back in the series.
The Bruins made some mistakes and gave the Rangers the critical room they needed in order to make the opportunities happen last night at Madison Square Gardens. During the beginning of the game the Rangers were down and accepting their loss before it happened but halfway through the New York Rangers showed up and hammered the game home.  The Bruins still the stronger team on the power play can come back and win this series.  Last night was more of a fluke than anything else. The Bruins need to tighten up their game, keep on the gas and play the entire 60 minutes like it’s the game of their life, win the series and get some rest. The Bruins and the Rangers will face off again on Saturday in Game 5.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Penguins embarrass the Senators in Game 4

The Pittsburgh Penguins turned Game 4 around after lagging in the first period to the Ottawa Senators.  First period play was plagued with mistakes, particularly by Kris Letang who was either not paying attention or in the way.  Scoring early on, the Senators took an opportunity to make a short handed goal while Letang was distracted by the lack of a penalty call. The Senators were playing defensively; even goaltender Anderson was aggressively defending the goal.  James Neil takes an opportunity off of a puck drop with virtually no defense from the Senators, tying the score 1-1.  Then the Senators come back with a shot on goal, which rebounds out when Letang knocks over his own goaltender Vokoun and the Senators were able to score in a virtually empty net.  For the first time in this series, the Senators held a lead during the first period.  In the second period the momentum began to change in favor of the Penguins as Kuntis made a break away goal, taking the puck right to the net to tie the game for the second time last night.  Forty second later the Penguins took the lead via a goal from Iginla, he shot the puck right into the crease with no Senators in sight to cover.  Crosby had made a lot of momentum for the Penguins during the game and his efforts paid of in the third period as he gained a two point lead.  Early in the third period shots were already favoring the Penguins 32-22. Then a flurry of goals for the Penguins happened: Dupuis and Crosby score, driving up the score 6-2. Late in the third period the Senators opt for a goaltender change benching Anderson in favor of Lehner but they had a lot of ice to cover to come back in this run away game.  The Penguins are a team that just never let off of the gas and that is evident in the game last night. The Penguins continue their push to the net with a score by Iginla and the Penguins gained a commanding lead of 7-2 late in Game 4.  The Senators did not have much time to come back but they managed to score, still with a run away game and less than 5 minutes left of play the Penguins won Game 4 with a 4 point lead, 7-3.
Ottawa started Game 4 with great momentum.  They had just come off of a shutout double overtime win during Game 3.  The Penguins had a rough start to their game but as soon as the momentum shifted early in the second period they ran away with the game taking a commanding lead.  With the depth of play that the Penguins have it is going to be hard for the Senators to end Game 5 with a different outcome. The series is now 3-1 with the Penguins holding the lead. It’s not an impossible situation for the Senators but team captain Alfredsson doubts that the team can come back from such a deficit in the best of seven series.   Alfredsson is one of the most respected veteran’s in the NHL, when he talks people listen and his recent comments about the Senators not being able to come back in this series match up has not been easy to hear.  The Senators will face the Penguins in Game 5 on Friday in Pittsburgh.