Well, that was an interesting first round. I do it every year, it's my list of the winners and losers. Already this post season seems chocked full of them.
Opening wins from the underdogs: In the Eastern Conference everyone of the lower seeds beat their higher seed foes. In the West, only top seeds Phoenix and Vancouver got off on the right foot. It made for an interesting start.
Jaroslav Halak: Halak played and outstanding series against the Capitals. He stopped 41 shots in game seven, another 53 shots in game six as the Habs come from behind to beat the Capitals in round one.
Phoenix Coyotes: Even though they had home ice advantage, the Coyotes were clearly the underdog in their series against Detroit. But they stretched it to seven games before they totally lost in the final one by a score of 6-1. Give the 'Yotes credit for playing a great season, and following it up with some good playoff performances. That was gutsy season for a team struggling to stay in Glendale AZ.
Jacques Martin: The head coach of the Montreal Canadiens had a plan and stuck with it. And he finally wins a game seven. He played the system best suited to beat the Capitals, and it worked. Get the early goal and shut 'em down. He had some help form a great goaltender, but in the end he finally gets a game seven win.
Sidney Crosby: I hate to say it, but Crosby single handily did away with the Ottawa Senators. Talk about a leader, he lead by example with some key goals and great assists to keep Ottawa from every really having a chance.
1 through 8: Every seed is represented in the second round. 1. San Jose, 2. Chicago, 3. Vancouver, 4. Pittsburgh, 5. Detroit, 6. Boston, 7. Philadelphia and 8. Montreal.
Zdeno Chara: He started the series with a cage, but he would end it leading his bruised and battered team past the Sabres for the series win. Not sure how long he can lead his team on, but he did everything to help his team win, getting into a scrum and scoring key goals.
Washington Capitals Offense: Where did it go? To lose by such a low score is not normal for the Capitals and it was the main reason for their first round loss. Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom were held scoreless in the last games. Mike Green, Tomas Fleischmann and others didn't even get a goal.
Buffalo Sabres: They just couldn't over come Zdeno Chara and Tuuka Rask. They were a bit beat up and Ryan Miller played spectacular in net. But the Sabres are upset by Boston proving a great goaltender only gets you so far.
NHL Officiating: 5 minute or longer reviews, bad calls that decide game sevens, and overall consistency. It has been a bad first round for the boys in the black and white stripes. And all the Commish has to say is, "Well human error is part of it." Hmm.
Versus: Blocking every game in the post season by scheduling them, even if they are not full games. Those with Center Ice were forced to watch partial games because of Versus trying to satisfy every one's needs. The NHL really needs to either open up the blocked games, or find several channels to carry the games through the first round. Hello, NHL network?
Bruce Boudreau: Now 1-5 in series clinching games, Boudreau played on his hunches a bit too much in the series against the Canadiens. Making changes too late in the series did not help his team in the end. His authorship of the power play was abysmal. Even with the extra man with over a minute left in game seven, the Caps could not produce a power play goal.