Don’t know if the national audience had tuned in in time for this, but CSN Bay Area viewers were treated to a stirring display of patriotism: Canucks forward Daniel Sedin blowing a snot rocket during ‘O Canada.’ Way to leave it ALL on the ice, Daniel.
The Eastern Conference playoffs get underway tonight. First up is the Boston Bruins vs the Toronto Maple Leafs. This should be a great series if you like montages of first responders. Seriously, if you live in Boston, you’d better hope your house doesn’t catch fire at around 7pm EST on Wednesday night, because I expect every uniformed person in the city will be on the ice at TD Garden. Toronto meanwhile hasn’t even made the playoffs since 2004, which means that most of the players on the Leafs have spent more seasons being locked out by the owners than they have being in the playoffs. Bruins in 6.
Next up…top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins vs the New York Islanders. The Penguins acquired veterans Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Douglas Murray at the trade deadline, making them one of the most potent teams of 2009. Captain Sidney Crosby, always striving to expand his game, has found a new way to be injured; his broken jaw will keep him out of game 1, but hopefully will not keep him from growing his 1930’s evil landlord playoff “beard.” As for the Islanders, their biggest personnel move was acquiring the contract of Tim “Social Network” Thomas in order to reach the floor of the salary cap. What to watch for: the Isles recently returned to their classic, 70s/80s style unis, and it’s likely they’ll not be bringing that look with them when they move to Brooklyn next year, so enjoy it while you can. Pens in 6.
Finally tonight the last Western series gets started, the Vancouver Canucks vs the San Jose Sharks. Is it possible for two teams to lose the same series? Both of these teams got bounced in the first round last year, so what a relief to their fans that they are matched up. One of them must advance! What to watch for here: these teams have the two most embarrassing power plays in the league. When Vancouver goes on the power play, dudes in green bodystockings dance behind the penalty box. In San Jose, power plays are greeted by all fans making “sharky-shark” chomp motions with their arms. Just appalling. Sharks in 7.
Our last two years, in our first series, we’ve lost the first game. Obviously, we really wanted to come out with a good effort tonight.
- LA Kings center Mike Richards, on their Game 1 win over Vancouver.
See, this is why I love Mike Richards and was sad to see him leave Philadelphia. That first sentence — our, our, we’ve — refers to two seasons when he wasn’t even on the Kings! He wasn’t part of those years, series, or games, yet he (a) knew the history of the team, and (b) referred to that history in the first person. Total team guy. This would be like if your girlfriend remembered what you bought your parents for Christmas two years ago, even though you weren’t dating her then.
Western Conference Quarterfinals:
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings
The Canucks won their second President’s Trophy in a row, and yes, they came within one win of the Cup last year, but so what? Is anybody really afraid of the Canucks?
As for that President’s Trophy, let’s be honest; The Manitoba Moose could win the President’s Trophy if they played in the Northwest division. The Canucks went 18-5-1 in a division in which no other team even made the playoffs. The St. Louis Blues, meanwhile, finished a mere 2 points shy of Vancouver, despite going 10-9-5 in a division with 3 other 100+ point playoff teams. The Rangers, who also came within 2 points of the Trophy, went 15-7-2 in a division that also includes three 100+ point playoff teams. The Canucks play in a glorified AHL division and still barely squeaked away with the league’s best record.
Luongo has been shaky all year; he lacked confidence in last year’s playoffs, and the coach is ready to pull him for Corey Schneider (whose GAA and SV% are better) at a moment’s notice. Keeping goalies on short leashes in the playoffs doesn’t work. Ask the Flyers.
Speaking of whom, the Kings pulled two blockbuster trades to reunite former Flyers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Carter’s addition has helped an offense which was not as good as it looked on paper (which also describes your typical LA headshot).
The Kings are stacked with former Flyers. Ron Hextall is in the front office (no doubt two-hand slashing other executives with a letter opener), Simon Gagne and Justin Williams are on the roster; former coach John Stevens behind the bench, and ex-coach Terry Murray was fired earlier in the season. The Kings are almost like the regular Flyers, except with solid goaltending and healthier food at the concession stands.
The Kings played in close games all year, and their offense is starting to come together. Goalie Jonathan Quick need only play a little bit better than the Luongo/Schneider tandem, and the Kings could pull the upset.
Kings in 7.
Henrik Sedin takes a moment to thank a police officer for assisting during the riots which resulted from the Canucks’ failure to win the Stanley Cup. This is nice. Not so nice is doing this right in front of all the non-Stanley Cup awards the Canucks did manage to win.
Also, by virtue of having his stick in his hand, Sedin is more armed than the police officer is.
The Bruins commemorated last spring’s victory by skating the Cup around and raising the championship banner. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the Canucks commemorated the Cup Finals by giving up some quick soft goals on home ice.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)