So last night as I watched the majority of the Flyers - Canadiens game relatively closely and then channel surfed with the Sharks - Blackhawks game as my "base channel" - I had several "quick musings" about the current state of both Conference finals. I'll share them briefly while chomping on my sandwich before getting back to work on this cloudy Monday.
1) Wow, now the Canadiens know how frustrated the Caps and the Penguins were when Jaroslav Halak was stonewalling them. Sure the Flyers team defense has been tough but Michael Leighton has been virtually impenetrable since being brought in when Brian Boucher got injured and six periods of shutout hockey is a great way to start a best of seven series.
2) Who are these guys wearing the Canadien uniforms this series - they can't be the same guys who played and beat the Capitals and the Penguins. The guy in goal certainly isn't the same guy who played the last three games in net during the Capitals - Canadiens series.
3) The Flyers not retaliating is really bizarre to watch, but oh so much a testament to how good they can be. This is the Flyers team everyone expected to play in Wachovia Center at the start of this past regular season.
4) Last night's Flyers shut out of the Canadiens means the Flyers have scored a total of 13 unanswered goals and have played eight (8) straight periods of playoff hockey without allowing their opponents to score a goal. That's history being made, right there. All I can say is wow ... just ... wow.
5) I see the Flyers winning this series in five (5) games. I see Montreal saving some face with at least one (1) win in Montreal but after what the Flyers did to the Bruins, I can't see the Flyers letting up one iota until the series is over.
6) I said it was going to be t0ugh for San Jose to beat the Blackhawks unless their first line started producing and their second line kept on producing. Apparently Joel Quenneville agrees with me and is matching up linesto make sure that "Little Joe" Pavelski and the Sharks' second line reverts to being less productive than they have been through the Sharks' first two playoff series. Really I can't see the Sharks coming back from this deficit while still dressing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen for each game.
7) With every game that Antti Niemi plays well and gets better, the bigger albatross the Christobel Huet contract looks around Stan Bowman's neck. Hopefully for Florida Panther Fans that means that Dale Tallon has learned from his past mistakes. Thank goodness for we Capitals fans that GMGM and Ted Leonsis stood firm in their contract negotiations with Huet and his agent with regard to term of contract and he ended up in Chicago.
8) With each game I watch that the Blackhawks play I find myself wondering - what in the world did Brian Campbell ever do to make anyone feel he'd be worth over 7 million of cap space for the next six years? It's no wonder that Chicago is playing with such urgencey, with the Campbell and Marian Hossa contracts there really no way the core of this team can be held firmly together past next season. I've got nothing against Brain Campbell or Marian Hossa but I don't see Campbell being worth more than Chris Pronger at age 35 and I certainly don't see Hossa being worth 5+M of salary cap space in 2016 at age 37, can you honestly feel that in any system that Marian Hossa will have a 25% greater impact to a team than Sergei Federov did at age 38?
9) All that said it's going to be really, really hard for the Sharks to come back and make it to the Stanley Cup finals now. The series heads to Chicago with the Blackhawks up two games to zip. I couldn't see this series being done in less than six games before it started and now I can't see it going past six games, in fact if I were a betting man I'd take Chicago in five games and I wouldn't be shocked to see them sweep their ways into the finals.
I know it's late in the playoffs and saying that you are going to see good hockey is a pretty safe statement but so far these two remaining series have been pretty good hockey to watch, eh?