Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pittsburgh Plays The Team They Didn't Want

A lot going on in the hockey world. First both my favorites for the Stanley Cup finals got bumped in the second round in deciding fashion. San Jose lost to Dallas and Montreal lost to Philadelphia. That means there are just four teams left.

The Penguins will now play a team that seems to have success against very good skilled teams, the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the team they had no ambition of playing in the opening round of the playoffs and some have speculated that the Pens threw the last game of the season to avoid playing the Broad Street Bullies in favor of the beat up Ottawa Senators. Myself included in those that speculate.

How hockey karma can be cruel. Now the Penguins will have to face their cross state rivals and let me tell you, the Flyers are no Senators or Rangers. I actually am cheering for the lesser of two evils, and hope that the Flyers can put the Pens in their place. I kinda like this Flyer team (when they aren't playing the Caps), they are the Anaheim Ducks of the '08 playoffs. Tough, rugged with a touch of skill. Plus they are riding the hottest goaltender in the NHL in Marty Biron. There is a 50/50 chance the Cup will be raised by a Pennsylvania team this year.

In the West Conference the Dallas Stars look pretty impressive, but so do the Detroit Red Wings. This should be a battle royal and will be an interesting series to watch. Logic says that the Red Wings should be the stronger of the two, but I have been counting out the Stars for the last two rounds with little luck. Plus, I am secretly a big Mike Modano fan.

In World Championship news, the stage is set for two good hockey teams to butt heads Tuesday as the United States takes on Canada in their backyard. Canada remains heavy favorites in the tournament, but Team USA has been on a winning streak themselves. They will play in the early game at 4:30 pm EST. Both come in with 2-0 records and have had easy success with their previous opponents. Tim Thomas most likely will be in net for the United States.

As for Caps in the tournament, Nick Backstom scored two goals in three shots as Team Sweden crushed France 9-0. Cris Huet did not start, but he did come in relief and made only 3 saves on 5 shots. Backstrom did score on Huet late in the third.

Backstrom leads all Caps in the World Championships with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist and 5th on the scoring list overall). Alex Semin is right there with him with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) and leads all Capitals with a +4 rating (ranking him tied for fourth overall).

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