Well now that I got that out of my system, how about those games last evening. If you ever wondered about the difference between the regular season and the playoffs in the NHL, last evening's four games are certainly an excellent primer. Three of four games won by the lower seed - on the road. Oh, and the one won by the higher seed was #4 Phoenix over #5 Detroit, so some folks think the lower seed won that one too. All four games decided by just a single goal. So bottom line - there is a very fine line between confidence and stupidity this time of year. Those 121 points the Caps amassed over the prior 82 games - forget about them. Talk about life after the Caps - Canadiens series - forget about it, its basically irrelevant right now. Right now, it's all about FOCUS and focus means for the Capitals tonight is all about tonight, not Saturday night and certainly not anything beyond this series.
What do last night's results say? Are they really that surprising? I don't think so. If you look at last night's results and then look at the head to head games between last night's opposing team's you see that the intensity and closeness of the match-ups were clearly able to be forecasted.
Was it surprising that Colorado beat San Jose? Not really in the regular season the two met four times; San Jose went 2-1-1 and Colorado 2-2, in other words, they split the series. Last night, Colorado wins 2-1, why, well the game's first star was Colorado Goalie Craig Anderson who had 25 saves and a Save % of 0.962. Clearly a case of winning with what got ya there.
Was it surprising that the Flyers bested the Devils last night? Not really, in the regular season the Division Rivals met 6 times with Philadelphia going 5-1-0 against the foes in this "Turnpike" Rivalry. How did the Flyers do it? Well goalie Brian Boucher had an excellent night with a SV% 0.958 but the rest of the Flyers played great team defense, and Chris Pronger was a beast. The Flyers had 14 Blocked Shots to the Devils 4; and 21 hits to the Devils 16. Another factor wads New Jersey's ineffective power play, in the third period the Devils had a man advantage for 6:00 and failed to mount much pressure on Boucher and didn't come close to scoring while a man up. The Flyers goals were hard fought, but if New Jersey is to win this series, they need Martin Brodeur to have better than a 0.8571 SV%.
Was it surprising that the Ottawa Senators were able to go into Pittsburgh for Game 1 of their series and come away with a one goal victory? Not all that much, after all during the 4 times these two met in the regular season, the series was split 2-2 and this is the third time in four years, these two teams meet in the playoffs. The Sens outscored the Pens 2-1 in each of the first two periods last night and then held on for a 1 goal victory with solid play in the last minutes of the game after Pittsburgh drew within one goal. The Senators were able to contain Sidney Crosby and limit him to just three assists, two of which were secondary helpers, and even though Evgeni Malkin notched two goals on the night. In the end Ottawa's balanced offense was able to put 19.24% of their shots past Penguin goalie Marc-Andre Fluery so while Senator's goalie Brian Elliott didn't have a stellar night in his playoff debut the Penguins weren't able to win.
Was it surprising that Phoenix beat Detroit last night in Phoenix? Not all that much. After all, the two teams met four times this year; Detroit was 2-0-2 and Phoenix was 2-2; three of those four games were one goal games. Last night, the Coyotes stuck with what got them there, Ilya Bryzgalov had a solid evening between the pipes after surviving an early whiff on a shot by Thomas Holmstrom and making 38 saves and allowing two goals in the first period. The Coyotes played a measured game sticking to Coach Dave Tippett's system and notching a goal in each period for the 3-2 victory.
All of this should serve to put the Capitals on notice, they need to stay grounded and focused. Right now for the second season both teams come into tonight's game with the same record: 0-0. The match-ups and everything else have been discussed ad infinitum elsewhere around the blogsphere so I won't do that here today. I will say again i like the match-ups, speaking as a Caps fan. I think the Caps need to use their size advantage while still making sure they keep up with the small. speedy Canadiens team. I'd love to see a very solid night from Jose Theodore - just to shut people up on that item. I won't make any predictions on the outcome. It's the playoffs, I'm superstitious. I'll be there in 103, Rockin' the Red - after all this is what it's all about. This is the time of year when it's all about "Go Big or Go Home." I'm psych'ed. I likely won't have much of a voice tomorrow morning - not a big concern for me right now.
It's T-5:30:00, it's lunch hour and I need to go mail in my taxes before trying to stay focused on work for another 4 hours and then heading over to the game. I'll be attending with my USMMA Class of 82 classmate Rob. We'll certainly have a good time, even better of course if the Capitals win.
Remember - In The End There Can Be Only One...
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!