Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Round Winners and Losers

The sun is shining a bit brighter today, even if it's cloudy.

As I do every year here are your first round winners and losers. Let's start with the winners.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames series - Man, was this a good series. It had everything, fights, great goals and outstanding goaltending. I thought the series would extend to seven games, but the Blackhawks played an inspired game six in Calgary to eliminate their first round foes. This series epitomizes what the playoffs are and should be.

Dan Bylsma - I think it is a hard job to take over a team more than half way through the season let alone make the kind of turn around to where you make a lethargic team a competitor again. It brought this team back from the brink and handled the Flyers like a pro in their first round series.

Jonas Hiller - Another young goaltender making a name for himself. Hiller faced down a very very good offensive team in San Jose and passed with flying colors.

Anaheim Ducks - It seemed a daunting task for a number 8 seed to take out a number one seed, but the Ducks were able to man handle the President Trophy winning San Jose Sharks.

Henrik Lundqvist - Look, going up against one of the most effecient offensive teams with a team that is struggling to score and to go up 3 games to one on them is a tremendous effort one behalf of Lundqvist. He was clearly the best Ranger player in that series. There were times he was just spectacular.

Sergei Fedorov - Or Mr. Clutch. The old man still has legs. Feds scores the series winning goal with five minutes left in the game.

Eric Staal - Another clutch player, Staal stunned the New Jersey faithful as he scored the series winning goal with just 30 seconds left in game seven. Staal's production has picked up since the return of Eric Cole to the Hurricanes.

Versus - Every year they get better and better. This year they handled the games right by doing triple headers. They did it the right way too, allowing the local markets to watch the game in their entirety. Good job.


Sean Avery's antics - The punching and late hits, Avery just needs to lower his dosage. His performance in game seven was fantastic, so we know he is capable of playing well. What was he thinking talking trash to a Russian goaltender that doesn't speak English?

Donald Brashear's game six antics - The shove during warm ups and the late hit in the game has left Brash sitting on the sidelines for 6 games. Well 5 now.

St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets - The Blues return to the playoffs only to put up a 4 and out. Same with Montreal and Columbus. Only the Blue Jackets really have an excuse as it is their first ever appearance in the postseason in franchise history. The other two don't have that luxury.

Martin Broduer going berserk in game 4 - That poor, poor stick.

Carey Price - Look kid, you are just not ready for the playoffs.

ESPN - For hiring Barry Melrose back.

Joe Thornton - After his team lost their series in game six, Thornton was the first person out of the locker room and on to the bus. He did not make himself available for comment following the game.

Honerable mention for winner and loser: John Tortorella - New York should be very happy to have the kind of coach they have in Torts. His bottle throwing was not very classy, but he was standing up for his players. His attitude at the end of the series shows you why he is a good coach, he was proud of his team and he got more out of his club than what most people expected.

Caps take the day off. Enjoy the short break. The series to watch will be the Capitals/Penguins series. This is big time now.

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