Everybody else* is tied at 1-1, which is not too surprising. But with one huge upset looming, and other series that was supposed to be so even turning out so lopsided,** what does this mean?
*Nashville is up 2-1 over Detroit, but that's even enough for me to call that a win.
**Or, as some others had suggested, going to be so lopsided going the Penguins way.
Well, the one nice thing this could mean is a surprise team coming through to the Stanley Cup. I like St. Louis, but I don't think I took them seriously as a contender to win the whole thing. With Vancouver out of the picture, I could be inclined to change my mind. They'll still need to get by a division foe, which could well be Chicago if they can win this series against Phoenix. By the way, both games in the CHI-PHX series have been fantastic.* The Predators-Red Wings series has been as even as advertised. I'll still stick with Detroit as my pick, but I'm not going to be a bit surprised if Nashville pulls this out.
*Winning games in overtime is exciting stuff, doubly so for games you manage to tie with just five seconds remaining. But, here's to hoping that the Blackhawks can win a little more conventionally with the series shifting to the United Center tomorrow.
Let me keep this out West for just a bit before going to the East. With the reseeding, and assuming Chicago does win this series, that would give us St. Louis playing the Kings, and Nashville/Detroit with home ice over the Blackhawks. If the Blues can take care of the Kings, which doesn't seem as sure of a thing as it did a week ago, that would guarantee an all-Central conference final, which seems awfully appropriate, given how the point standings looked at the end of the year. It's been the strongest division probably in all of hockey all year. It should be represented appropriately.
Now, as far as Vancouver is concerned, this might be the playoff disappointment that makes the GM and owners decide this window has slammed shut. Other than last year, when they came within a game of winning the Cup, the Canucks have been perennial playoff losers, normally to teams that couldn't touch them in the regular season. Many times, that has been the Blackhawks. At the very least, you might see the Roberto Luongo is not the golden child any more, and that might be the best move for everybody involved, honestly. After the specter of a city's disappointment hanging over him for years, a fresh start might be just what the doctor ordered.
Now, out East, well, I am surprised that the Penguins have been manhandled, but I think what everybody has forgotten is that the Flyers are a very good team. Sure, goal-tending is a question, and has been for decades in Philadelphia. But they have great skaters and are a much more physical team than the Penguins. Sure, the Pens like to fight, but I always though Philly was the more physical team overall.
I'm afraid to comment too much on these games, because I haven't gotten a chance to watch any of them. But just by going from the stats, it looks like you can't blame a rusty Sidney Crosby. He's gotten a goal in three of his last five games. It seems to me that the blame lies more on Marc-Andre Fleury. I'll admit, as a goalie, I've never been too up on the Flower. He seems to flaky for my taste. And maybe that's what we're seeing here. He's gone Rick Ankiel on us: he's become an head case that the team just can't afford any more. Who knows? Maybe you'll see Bobby Lu slide over into that role. I don't think it could get much worse.
That'll do it for me today. Pacers play the Timberwolves tonight. Ricky Rubio, as you have probably heard, is out for the year with a torn ACL, but it looks like Kevin Love bounced back awfully quick from a concussion, so he should be in uniform tonight. But, frankly, I don't think it will matter. Let's go, Pacers!