Monday, April 30, 2012

Game Two -- Los Angeles at St. Louis -- April 30, 2012

Twas an interesting day Saturday was in St. Louis, tornado sirens wailed through the afternoon leading up to game time as a string of storms crossed through Missouri, leaving a most uneasy feeling we imagine to those that made their way to the Scott Trade Centre for game one of the Blues / King Western semifinal.

When the sirens finally were silenced, the only noise that would be heard at the rink would be groans of dismay as the Blues failed to connect on their chances and the Kings made good on theirs.

The Los Angeles it seems has picked up where they left off with the Vancouver Canucks, the Kings led by the outstanding goaltending of Jonathan Quick took the play to the Blues, both in a physical way and on the scoreboard  leading up to their opening night success a 3-1 victory over the number two seed in the West.

Los Angeles weathered an early game flurry of activity from the Blues who took a 1-0 lead and then watched as Quick shut the door and the Kings barged through their own openings grabbing three goals without reply to take game one.

For St. Louis beyond the concern of being down one game to none in the series, there is the worry over defence man Alex Pietrangelo and his status for Game two and beyond, Pietrangelo was injured on a hit into the end boards in game one and did not return on opening night, the Blues who clearly are in need of his help on the blue line can only wait for clearance and his return.

LA has already shifted the home ice towards Southern California, playing with gaining confidence it seems as each game progresses in this playoff year, it will be up to the Blue to try to stem that momentum and send the series to California on even terms.

Game Two-- Los Angeles 5 at St. Louis 2  

Los Angeles leads the series 2 games to 0

Previews and Reviews


St. Louis Post Dispatch-- No contest: Blues blitzed by Kings
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues are a no show without Petro
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues must regain focus, fire, Pietrangelo
Los Angeles Times-- Suddenly, the Kings can't be stopped
Los Angeles Times-- Dominant first period leads Kings to 5-2 win over Blues ...
Los Angeles Daily News-- Suddenly, goals seem to be within reach for L. A.
Los Angeles Daily News-- L. A. is two good against Blues
Globe and Mail-- Kings storm Blues early to take both games in St. Louis
National Post-- Why the Kings are worth watching


St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Petro return would be a triumph
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues in familiar spot down 1-0 against LA
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Pietrangelo may be available for Game 2
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Hitchcock tinkers with his offense
Los Angeles Times-- Kings could face short-handed Blues team in Game 2
Los Angeles Times-- Slava Voynov helps Kings to get going
Los Angeles Daily News-- If we know anything about these Kings, it's to expect the ...
Globe and Mail-- Blues' Pietrangelo not at practice ahead of Game 2
National Post-- Blues could be without defence man Alex Pietrangelo for Game 2 against Kings

Previous items on this series

Game One

Game Two -- Washington at New York -- April 30, 2012

It took them forty minutes, but the New York Rangers finally got all the parts moving in sync in the third period of their opening game in the Eastern semi final against the Washington Capitals.

The Rangers can thank Henry Lundqvist for holding them in the game in the first two periods, the Capitals had this opening game for the taking but couldn't convert on their opportunities upon periods one and two, leaving the opening for the Rangers to snap out of their offensive lethargy which they did in the third.

When they did, it was the newest Ranger Chris Kreider, who made the difference a goal and an assist helped pace the Rangers on to the eventual 3-1 victory, as the Blue Shirts managed to shake some goals out of the more than reliable Braden Holtby in the Capital net.

It wasn't particularly Holtby's fault that the Rangers found success, defensive miscues in the Capital end provided the opportunities, which the Rangers made the best of when it counted the most.

The Capitals will have to be a tad more focused in their own end should they wish to draw even with the Rangers in game two and send the series to Washington squared up by night's end.

Game Two-- Washington 3 at New York 2

The series is tied at 1 game each

Previews and Reviews


NY Post-- Rangers lose to Capitals in Game 2; series tied
NY Post-- Gaborik must show up for Rangers to have shot at Cup
NY Post-- Ovechkin key for Capitals in Game 2 win over Rangers
NY Post-- Capitals stop on Rangers' Kreider was crucial
NY Daily News-- Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin scores game winner in 3-2 win...
NY Daily News-- NY Rangers have very little margin for error in Games 3 and 4 ...
NY Daily News-- Capitals' Alex Ovechkin hears it from Madison Square Garden and his ...
Washington Post-- Alex Ovechkin helps Capitals get even with Rangers
Washington Post-- Alex Ovehckin's ice time is an elephant in the room as Caps-Rangers...
Washington Post-- Mike Knuble, Keith Aucoin and Joel Ward are carrying the team...
Washington Times-- Capitals even series with Rangers on Ovechkin's goal
Washington Times-- Fire on the bench: Rangers play Tortorella's way
Washington Times-- Capital's make a few "Black Aces" recalls
Globe and Mail-- Alex Ovechkin the role player?
Globe and Mail-- Ovechkin's late goal lifts Caps over Rangers
National Post-- Capitals' Ovechkin comes through with game winner to even series...


NY Post-- Rangers rookie Kreider on path from college to Cup
NY Post-- Ranges' Boyle has 'no idea' if he'll play in Game 2
NY Post-- Rangers' Tortorella finalist for coach of the year
NY Daily News-- Marian Gaborik frustrated by slump, NY Rangers' regular season leader .. 
NY Daily News-- With Brandon Dubinsky and Brian Boyle banged up, NY Rangers turn to ...
NY Daily News-- NY Rangers' Ruslan Fedotenko raises game for playoffs ...
Washington Post-- Alex Ovechkin knows he need to be better in Game 2 vs. Rangers
Washington Post-- Will Alex Ovechkin see time on the right wing in Game 2?
Washington Post-- Rangers look to put the heat on Braden Holtby
Washington Post-- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist: "We need to win this one"
Washington Times-- Capitals realize need for more emotion in Game 2
Washington Times-- Caps lacking contributions from core players
Washington Times-- Jeff Schultz returns to Capitals' lineup for Game 2 at Rangers
Washington Times-- Alexander Semin on fourth line; How long will it last?
Globe and Mail-- Is Dale Hunter's tough love what the Caps needed?
Globe and Mail-- Is Semin in the Capitals' playoff doghouse?
National Post-- Capitals look to keep grinding in Game 2

Previous items on this series

Game One

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Luongo list

The prospective landing spots are being assembled, as Roberto Luongo offers up a few signals that perhaps his time in British Columbia is near an end.

The Canucks goaltender, the mainstay in the Vancouver net over the last few years took the high road as the Canucks season came to an end, suggesting that if asked, he would be willing to waive his "no trade clause", though we imagine only if the right fit can be found by GM Mike Gillis.

A prospect that perhaps has the other members of the NHL lodge holding the upper hand, considering the nature of Luongo's contract, the will of the fan base which seems to be on Team Cory as this season comes to an end and the apparent decision of Luongo to seek other pastures, as long we imagine as they are green ones...

To that end, there has been no shortage of speculation as to where Luongo and his hefty contract may end up. The most mentioned destination it would seem is Florida, more Tampa than Miami, though as always in matters of goaltending, the Leafs are in the mix for any number of reasons.

As you can find on Twitter or see from the many links below, Where in the World is Roberto Luongo going to go is fast becoming the favourite  discussion point for hockey fans one and all.

We suspect that the process will move slower, rather than faster, most likely heading towards the NHL draft in June, where perhaps the Canucks can parlay, picks, cap space and player options into a winnable situation.

Regardless, while more and more it appears that Lou has played his last game in a Canucks uniform, the fans in Vancouver should be thankful for the most part for his time on the West Coast.  While last year's Stanley Cup run provided for a few disappointments, the bulk of Luongo's work in Vancouver was of top calibre, no one could point a finger in his direction this year for the teams early exit from Stanley Cup competition.

His appearances in Games one and two provided the Canucks with ample opportunity to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup, it was a shortcoming on offence and some deficiencies on the blue line that sent the Kings on to the second round.

Luongo, who no doubt has a sense of pride, said little upon his replacement in net for games three and beyond, offering up his support from the bench, if he indeed is destined for a departure from BC he did it with class from his end.

In the end, as they can the Canucks may decide to keep both Luongo and Schneider for one more year, the best one / two tandem in the league regardless of which starts, though reality suggests that both are number one's somewhere and deserve that status.

Vancouver can look for any number of issues to solve in the off season, perhaps Luongo is the key to solving them, but if Vancouver fans look hard at their team, he wasn't the cause of them.

Vancouver Province-- Canucks' Gillis counsels patience in Luongo Watch 2012
Vancouver Province-- Canucks' Gillis and Luongo discuss trade options soon
Vancouver Province-- Canucks' Luongo a Toronto Maple Leaf. Seriously
Vancouver Province-- Canucks' Luongo a class act as he faces possible trade
Vancouver Province-- Who will be on Luongo's wish list?
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks: No worries about Luongo's predicament
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo willing to waive no-trade clause
Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver Canucks not Lack-ing for goaltending options: 'Eddie's very close"
Vancouver Sun-- According to reports, Roberto Luongo requested a trade; why did we hear about it?
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks, Luongo to 'take our time'
Vancouver Sun-- Lottery Corp not anxious to talk about potential Luongo trade
Vancouver Sun-- Four potential landing spots for Roberto Luongo
The Tyee-- Canucks' Lu-dicrous Management
Toronto Star-- Maple Leafs among teams Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo would move...
Toronto Star-- Fate of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo poses awkward questions for Maple Leafs
Toronto Sun-- Luongo's the answer to Leafs' net woes
Toronto Sun-- Leafs will be on Luongo's list of teams: Report
Toronto Sun-- Luongo reportedly asks for deal
Toronto Sun-- Luongo to Leafs? Gimme a break
Toronto Sun-- Luongo ready to move on from Canucks
National Post-- Canucks' Roberto Luongo is not what the Maple Leafs need
Globe and Mail-- Canucks' Luongo willing to waive no-trade clause
Globe and Mail-- Luongo a good fit for Leafs
Globe and Mail-- Canucks shouldn't expect much in return for Luongo
Sportsnet-- Canuck's Goalie Luongo asks to be traded
Sportsnet-- Which team will Luongo play for?
TSN-- Leafs, Hawks, Florida teams in running for Luongo
CBC-- Luongo's noble approach
CBC-- Coach's Corner Roberto Luongo should leave Vancouver
ESPN-- Where's Roberto Luongo going now?

Colour of the financial tape is RED in Phoenix, Nashville

As fans celebrated the Coyotes' most successful season in Arizona, four of seven Glendale council members directed staff to move forward with a deal that could include the city paying a future Coyotes owner $17 million next year to manage the city-owned arena.  -- Arizona Republic April 28, 2012

Much has been made of the financial straits of the Phoenix Coyotes, the wards of the NHL, recipients of millions of dollars from the home community of Glendale, mainly it seems just to provide for a tenant for the fancy skating rink in the suburbs of Phoenix.

As it is the, Coyotes, should they remain in the desert after their fascinating playoff run, would seem to be in line to be a drain on the Glendale taxpayers for a number of years to come, such is the nature of the latest negotiations between the city and prospective suitors.

Arizona Republic-- Glendale edges towards Phoenix Coyotes deal
Phoenix Business Journal-- Very different Phoenix Coyotes views from Canada, Arizona
Phoenix Business Journal-- Phoenix Coyotes enter round two but ownership challenges remain
Phoenix Business Journal-- Jamison moving forward with Phoenix Coyotes bid
Globe and Mail-- Coyotes succeed with scant resources

Yet lost in all this discussion of red ink to match those fancy red home jersey's is the fact that the Predators aren't exactly the poster children for a solid financial footing.

The leader of the local ownership group said members have been forced to put $60 million of their own money into the operation over the past five years, largely to cover losses. The city has given the Predators $38.6 million in the same period. -- The Tennessean, April 29, 2012

The Tennessean, the Nashville paper that focuses a fair amount of attention on the ice developments of the home team has also put together an interesting financial review of the Predators at the moment, a team that has never been as successful as it is today and yet still is losing money, requiring financial injections from local partners who may be wondering just when they get a return on that investment.

And while the fans wave their towels and sing in the stands the questions being asked are if the business model is sustainable in Music City?

The Tennessean-- Profit eludes Nashville Predators despite on-ice success, public money
The Tennessean -- Predators timeline
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators will pay to keep top players, chairman says
The Tennessean-- Predator's Metro subsidy was part of labor dispute between NHL, players

The Preds and Coyotes aren't the only teams with money woes in the NHL, the Panthers seemingly are forever hanging a For Sale sign out in front of the rink and in New Jersey a nasty internal feud has many suggesting that the Devils may just toss the keys across the Hudson to the NHL offices at the end of the season.

Other warning signs percolate in places such as Long Island, Tampa Bay, Columbus and Carolina (even St. Louis hasn't closed a deal yet), all teams that place regularly at the bottom of the Forbes listings of hockey teams values, a Rolodex of financial misery that changes dynamic each year, with alternating teams from year to year, mostly of the same name, same locations just different positions at the bottom of the list it seems.

All of which may help Gary Bettman make a financial presentation at the next round of CBA discussions over the summer.

But if the prospectus is to show that the NHL is a healthy, vibrant group, with a workable financial blue print for success, reading the financial news from Phoenix and Nashville in this second round may provide more information than the box scores after each game.

Game Two -- Nashville at Phoenix -- April 29, 2012

Third period collapses seem to be the domain of the Coyotes, yet whether its the latter stages of that third or on into Overtime, the Coyotes seem to find ways to win games.  A flirting with disaster scenario that you would think would come to bite them, but as they say, so far so good.

Game one was much along that blue print, the Predators got off to a sluggish start to their play, allowing the Coyotes confidence (never really lacking it seems) to grow as the game moved forward, by the time they turned on their engines to full throttle for the third and overtime periods, it became a situation where but one goal would make the difference and in this one, the Coyotes got the goal.

For a full look at frustration, the Preds could look back at the third period where they out shot the Coyotes 25-7 but couldn't beat Mike Smith when they needed a goal most.  Chances, chances and more chances that they couldn't capitalize on, tempting fate in the overtime and eventually losing their first lead in a playoff series this year (granted its only one series down, but omens can be omens at times).

Phoenix, playing their first second round playoff game in their existence and in front of more than just family, friends and hard earned friends are clearly putting all their hopes and dreams on the shoulders of Smith in the nets and hoping to sneak in a winning goal per game.

It's a strategy that most likely won't have long term success, Smith has been outstanding but that kind of a workload every night (42 shots to 24) takes its toll on a goaltender, for the Coyotes to think of the third round, let alone a Stanley Cup final, scoring some goals and putting a team away early in a game would be a helpful thing.

Game two goes in the desert on Sunday night and then it's off to Smashville, the Preds hoping to take the series home at even levels, while the Coyotes, will be looking to hit the road 2 games up and looking to close.

Game Two-- Nashville 3 at Phoenix 5

Phoenix leads the series 2 games to 0

Previews and Reviews


Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes take a 2-0 series lead on Nashville Predators
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes set a standard with raucous victory over Nashville...
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes trying to keep focus on the present in series ...
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes besting Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne 
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes' Rusty Klesla joining in on fun on offense
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators fall to Phoenix Coyotes 5-3
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators struggle to regain sizzle of first round
The Tennessean-- Trotz defends goalie, blames defensemen
The Tennessean-- NBC analysts rip Radulov
Globe and Mail-- Coyotes dominate Predators in Game 2 victory
Globe and Mail-- Predators are playing a hurting' tune
National Post-- Coyotes' offence wakes up in Game 2 win over Predators


Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes need 'Prime Line' to continue to deliver vs. Nashville
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith survives Nashville Predators' ...
Arizona Republic-- Glendale edges toward Phoenix Coyotes deal
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators hope to avoid 0-2 start against Phoenix Coyotes
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators' Kevin Klein admits break affected Game 1 effort
The Tennessean-- Profit eludes Nashville Predators despite on-ice success, public money
The Tennessean-- Blue Jackets - turned - Coyotes want payback vs. Nashville Predators
Globe and Mail-- Coyotes succeed with scant resources
National Post-- Mike Smith making Phoenix Coyotes look like contenders

Previous items on this series

Game One

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Round Two-- New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

The Battle of Pennsylvania is over, but a new border war is about to flare up as the Devils and Flyers travel up and down the Jersey turnpike.

Goaltending will no doubt be a focus, the good (hello marty) and the uh, questionable (Bryzy how ya feel in').

Depending on how it all evolves, it could be an interesting series for any number of themes.

Series Schedule and Results

Series coverage from

All games on CBC

DEVILS WIN the series 3 games to 1

April 29-- New Jersey 3 at Philadelphia 4 (OT) 
May 1-- New Jersey 4 at Philadelphia 1 
May 3-- Philadelphia 3 at New Jersey 4 (OT)  
May 6-- Philadelphia 2 at New Jersey 4   
May 8-- New Jersey 3 at Philadelphia 1 

Game One-- New Jersey and Philadelphia -- April 29, 2012

The leagues iconic goaltender leads the Devils into a border battle with the southern neighbours in Philadelphia, a town where solid goaltending of late means holding the other team to under six goals a night.

Such is one of the themes to round two with Philly and Jersey, the Flyers clearly have more offensive talent to choose from, going up against a team that still after all these years knows how to shut down an offence.

Something of course will have to give, either the Flyers get frustrated and shut down or possibly the Devils begin to find goals by the bushel full, regardless considering the proximity of the two cities, this is yet another series where familiarity could very well breed contempt.

Game One-- New Jersey 3 at Philadelphia 4 (OT) 

Philadelphia leads the series 1 game to 0

Previews and Reviews


Philadelphia Inquirer-- Briere comes up big for Flyers
Philadelphia Inquirer-- A new chapter in Flyers-Devils rivalry
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Sam Carchidi on the Flyers' Game 1 win over the NJ Devils
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers overcome slow start
Philadelphia Daily News-- Briere is a playoff giant
Philadelphia Daily News-- Briere does it again as Flyers win in OT
Philadelphia Daily News-- Devils should be worried
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers keep showing up
Newark Star Ledger-- Should Flyers' winning OT goal have been nullified?
Newark Star Ledger-- Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk puts on another disappearing act ...
Newark Star Ledger-- Flyers' Danny Briere continues playoff heroics with OT winner ...
Newark Star Ledger-- Devils captain Zach Parise won't call Game 2 a 'must win'
Newark Star Ledger-- Flyers' Danny Briere talks of winning OT goal against Devils
Newark Star Ledger-- Devils' Martin Brodeur endures a punishing Game 1 against Flyers
Newark Star Ledger-- Devils lose Game 1 to the Flyers, 4-3, in Overtime
NY Post-- Devils lose to Flyers inn overtime of Game 1
NY Daily News-- Philadelphia Flyers take 1-0 series lead on NJ Devils...
Globe and Mail-- Flyers nip Devils in OT to take Game 1
National Post-- Flyers' Daniel Briere rises to the occasion in overtime win over Devils


Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers-Devils should be the opposite of Flyers-Penguins
Philadelphia Inquirer-- On Brodeur, the series, the odds
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers' Giroux bypassed as finalist for MVP
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers think their rest will trump Devils momentum
Philadelphia Daily News-- Things you should know about the Flyers-Devils series
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers to play Devils on Sunday
Newark Star Ledger-- Who's making it out of the Eastern Conference semifinals?
Newark Star Ledger-- Philadelphia Flyers vs. Devils
Newark Star Ledger-- Who do you dislike more Flyers or Rangers?
NY Post-- Devils turn focus toward Flyers for Game 1 Sunday
NY Post-- Devils GM expects 'outstanding series' with Flyers
Globe and Mail-- Flyers, Devils set to renew acquaintances

Friday, April 27, 2012

Round Two-- Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues

Both teams had impressive first round victories, the Blues by banishing the San Jose Sharks highlighted the differences between those two franchises, one on the rise the other in decline.

The Kings of course knocked off the league champions, denying the Canucks an opportunity to finish off their Stanley Cup quest with a Cup title.

Both are young squads, equal in make up and strong in many positions, featuring two top coaches who clearly understand what makes their team tick.

Series Schedule and Results

Series coverage from

All games on TSN

KINGS WIN the series 4 games to 0

April 28-- Los Angeles 3 at St. Louis 1  
April 30-- Los Angeles 5 at St. Louis 2  
May 3-- St. Louis 2 at Los Angeles 4
May 6-- St. Louis  1 at Los Angeles 3 

Game One-- Los Angeles at St. Louis -- April 28, 2012

A team that seems destined for a long run through the playoffs and a team that upset the plans of the league champions, both offer up intriguing possibilities as they head into their round two battles, both the Kings and Blues somewhat similar in their outlook if not their scoring output.

The Blues have climbed to the top reaches of the NHL West, a young ambitious team with lots of upside finally getting a reward for a bit of rebuilding.  The Kings, having knocked off the Canucks looking to extend their run this playoff year into a round three and maybe beyond.

Both have strong line ups similar in make up, both have a good defensive corps that seem to rise to challenges and as we've seen in round one, both have no worries on the goal line, regardless of who takes to the net.

All the ingredients for an interesting series that could very well go the distance.

Game One-- Los Angeles 3 at St. Louis 1  

Series is tied at 0 game each

Previews and Reviews


St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Kings serve notice they're a royal pain
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues fall in Game 1 and lose Pietrangelo
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Backes looks for balance
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Pietrangelo injury tough blow for Blues
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- NHL's explanation on Pietrangelo hit
Los Angeles Times-- It's plodder's day for Kings' Matt Greene
Los Angeles Times-- Defense answers for Kings in series opening win
Los Angeles Times-- Kings win series opener at St. Louis, 3-1
Los Angeles Daily News-- If we know anything about these Kings, it's to expect the ...
Los Angeles Daily News-- Behind Quick, L. A. takes opener, improves to 5-1 postseason
Globe and Mail-- Kings beat Blues to take series opener
National Post-- Jonathan Quick continues to roll in Kings' series-opening win over Blues


St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Backes grows into his role as Blues captain
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- We've not yet seen the best of Steen
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Halak out at least two more games
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Fans again aren't' a league's priority
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Blues ready for Round 2
St. Louis Post Dispatch-- Kings will be more aggressive on penalty kill
Los Angeles Times-- Kings and Blues can't help but like each other
Los Angeles Times-- Kings' and Blues' coaches have a lot in common
Los Angeles Times-- Kings' Jonathan Quick views for Vezina Trophy for top goaltender
Los Angeles Daily News-- GM Lombardi makes the right moves
Los Angeles Daily News-- Time to look forward, not back
Los Angeles Daily News-- Kings' Quick up for award as league's top goalie
Globe and Mail-- Kings know winning is a must in LA
Globe and Mail-- Lakers and Clippers and Kings, oh my!
Globe and Mail-- Darryl Sutter helps restore Kings' lustre
Globe and Mail-- Blues say Halak will miss first two games against Kings
National Post-- Blues savouring first playoff win in decade

Round Two-- New York Rangers and Washington Capitals

It could be the most entreating series of the second round, the prospect of the potentially explosive Capitals offence finally finding it's groove, up against a Rangers team that likes to shut down opposing teams and features tight contests.  Add into the mix some pretty good goaltending options and this one could be a dandy.

Series Schedule and Results

Series coverage from

All games on CBC

RANGERS WIN THE series 4 games to 3 

April 28-- Washington 1 at New York 3 
April 30-- Washington 3 at New York 2  
May 2-- New York 2 at Washington 1 (3 OT)
May 5-- New York 2 at Washington 3
May 7-- Washington 2 at New York  3 (OT)
May 9-- New York 1 at Washington 2 
May 12-- Washington 1 at New York 2  

Game One-- Washington at New York Rangers April 28, 2012

A near miss avoided by the Blueshirts and they are breathing a bit better at the Gardens these days, it took them seven game to finally get by the Ottawa Senators and surely the Rangers realize that they were but a few bounces of a puck the other way of elimination.  It's those lessons that head coach John Tortorella will be re-enforcing for his team as they head into round two against the Washington Capitals.

The Caps, who knocked off the Stanley Cup champions may very well have turned around a culture with their round one victory, this is very much Dale Hunter's team now, the coach who took over in late November seems to have put his stamp on the Caps, mainly at the expense of Alexander Ovechkin's playing time. The message clear, that the reward for hard work is playing time, the punishment for a perceived lack of it is bench time.

So far, after one round, it would seem to be advantage Hunter, whether he can keep up that into round two remains to be seen, but frankly the Caps have already gone further than most gave them credit for, so this series will be an interesting review of where the Caps are compared to a team as homogeneous as the Rangers appear to be.

Game One-- Washington 1 at New York 3

New York leads the series 1 game to 0

Previews and Reviews


New York Post-- Rangers take Game 1 from Capitals with strong third period
New York Post-- Boyle, Dubinsky miss Rangers' Game 1 win
New York Post-- Rangers forward Stepan starring in playoffs
NY Daily News-- NY Ranges rookie Chirs Kreider breaks third period tie to lead ...
NY Daily News-- NY Rangers rookie Chris Kreider gives Blueshirts shot in the arm
Washington Post-- Capitals surrender upper hand to Rangers with 3-1 loss in Game 1
Washington Post-- Capitals' chance at Game 1 victory against Rangers vanishes ...
Washington Post-- Braden Holtby: "I had a tough time getting into the game"
Washington Times-- Green's gaffe opens door for Capitals' loss to Rangers in Game 1
Washington Times-- Hardly tested by Rangers in Game 1, Braden Holtby still struggles
Globe and Mail-- Rangers dump Capitals in Game 1
National Post-- Tempo suits Rangers in Game 1 victory over Capitals


New York Post-- Rangers start second round Saturday
New York Post-- Boyle practices with Rangers, Dubinsky sits out
New York Post-- Ranger goalie Lundqvist named finalist for NHL MVP award
NY Daily News-- Rangers Capitals kick off Eastern Conference semis 3 p.m. Saturday...
NY Daily News-- NY Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is one of three finalists ...
Washington Post-- Capitals take first step free of expectations, committed to system
Washington Post-- Capitals will face Rangers in Eastern Conference ...
Washington Post-- History shows that it could be boom or bust for Caps in second round
Washington Post-- For Washington pro sports teams, the skies are clearing
Washington Times-- Capitals, Rangers both willing to sacrifice their bodies to block shots
Washington Times-- Capitals to take on the Rangers in Round 2
Washington Times-- Capitals' Joel Ward resumes role of playoff hero
Globe and Mail-- Good teams, with some glaring holes

Round Two-- Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes

A western division round featuring two very similar teams, form this page we will track the developments of two teams that frequently fly under the NHL's radar.

Series Schedule and Results

Series coverage from

All games on TSN

COYOTES WIN the series 4 games to 1

April 27-- Nashville 3 at Phoenix 4
April 29-- Nashville 3 at Phoenix 5
May 2-- Phoenix 0 at Nashville 2 
May 4-- Phoenix 1 at Nashville 0
May 7-- Nashville 1 at Phoenix 2  

Game One -- Nashville at Phoenix -- April 27, 2012

For old times sake they should invite Jim Balsillie to drop the opening puck, the Canadian tech creator has some time on his hands, though perhaps his travel budget isn't quite as large as it once was owing to the end of his time with his Blackberry brand.

Still, this series is perhaps an intriguing prospect for people in Hamilton, as at one time or another, either or were apparently destined for the Copps coliseum, though as it turned out not without Gary Bettman moving all that he could to keep Balsillie out of the loop.

Away from the back rooms and on the ice, this is a series of two like minded teams,  hard work and character players dot the line up and goal tending as it always is providing the key to success for both squads.

Pekka Rinne continues to build on his success, his work against the Red Wings one of the keys to the Predators first round success, likewise Mike Smith, a reclamation project by the financially challenged Coyotes has more than repaid the confidence that Dave Tippet has placed in him over the regular season and into the playoffs.

Both teams match up much the same on defence and offence, a few key players but overall a unified team effort has put them where they are today, the Predators perhaps the more likely of the two to move upward, a methodical bit of team building has them on the cusp of further success.

Both teams move forward on their journey tonight with a game one start in Phoenix, the stage is all their own as round two gets underway, no doubt new converts to the cause will be along for the ride as the series moves on.

Game One-- Nashville 3 at Phoenix 4 (OT) 

Coyotes lead the series 1 game to 0 

Previews and Reviews


Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes take down Nashville in overtime in Game 1
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes continue to come through in clutch
Arizona Republic-- Referee's whistle helps Coyotes' Mike Smith stop Nashville Predators
Arizona Republic-- Predators' Pekka Rinne "vows to stay focuses and be ready"...
Arizona Republic-- New fans of Phoenix Coyotes get warm reception
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators fall to Phoenix Coyotes in overtime
The Tennessean-- Pekka Rinne makes no excuses in Nashville Predators' loss
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators struggle on face-offs, lose to Phoenix Coyotes
Globe and Mail-- Coyotes defeat Predators in game 1 overtime
National Post-- Coyotes, Predators not boiling over with offensive flair
National Post-- Coyotes draw first blood against Predators


The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes show depth of NHL
The Tennessean-- Predators to face Coyotes
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne leads NHL playoff run
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes build teams on strong goaltending
The Tennessean-- Nashville Predators practice for game against Phoenix Coyotes
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith turns little potential into big results
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes look to each another level against Nashville Predators
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators - scouting report, prediction
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes look to buck late-game collapse trend vs. Nashville..
Arizona Republic-- Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Coyotes have much in common
Globe and Mail-- Triple threat gives Predators playoff punch

Round Two reset

Well our prognostication skills certainly suffered in the first round, of our eight teams predicted to move ahead in this years Stanley Cup playoffs, only  four are actually going to make the journey forward.

Our selection of the Rangers, Devils, Blues and Predators proved to be on the mark,  however with the Penguins, Bruins, Canucks and Hawks  making green time reservations in April, our success rate was but 50 per cent.

Not the thing to get us a spot at a Vegas book desk at a casino, though we suspect we have lots of company after the round one surprises.

Still, the fun is in the picking, even if the results come up a little short.

So with as much bravado as we can muster, here's our picks for Round Number Two.

Phoenix and Nashville

This could be called the Balsillie bowl, at one point in their existence, both of these teams were on the radar of the Canadian technology king. As events have played out, Mr. Balsillie never quite crossed the finish line with Gary Bettman and Hamilton it seems once again fades from the franchise relocation window.  As has Mr. Balsillie, owing to his troubles with the Blackberry brand and the fall out from it.

At any rate, Nashville seems to have solidified its situation and built themselves a team that seems more than up for the challenge ahead, a smaller market team that so far has thrived in the era of the cap in the NHL.

Across the ice from them the latest ward of the state, the Phoenix Coyotes, owned by the league, perpetually it seems just on the cusp of securing no ownership, only to find that something has rendered all that optimism moot.

That however has not deterred Dave Tippet from finding the most out of his players, putting aside all the chatter and distractions of a financially struggling hockey club and sticking to his message, which so far has brought them into the second round after handling the Chicago Black Hawks quite handily.

It makes for an interesting match up, though the Predators seem to be built for success this year, the various additions to the line up proving themselves more than helpful in round one.

Goal tending won't be an issue that's for sure, both teams can count on their goalies to make a key save or two, or three or... over the course of the series.

In the end, it could very well be that a mistake makes the difference in this one, whichever team takes advantage of their opportunities will move forward.

The Predators can perhaps save the Gary Bettman the prospect of having to hand off the Stanley Cup to himself (which would be the scenario if the Coyotes should somehow claim the Holy Grail of Hockey), that and the fact that every game in Nashville seems like a Toby Keith party gives one hopes for a long run for the Nashville cats.

Predators in six... 

Los Angeles and St. Louis

The Kings knocked off the league's top team and did through hard work and some solid goal tending, recipes for success that every team hopes to have at the start of a season.

Jonathan Quick was one of the key plot lines to the Kings success of series one, he frustrated the Canucks at almost every opportunity, full value for the accolades that greeted him as the season move along, short as it was.

The other key aspect of the Kings play in round one was their ability to shut down the Canucks secondary  scoring, much has been made of the lack of scoring of the likes of Kesler, Burrows, Lappierre et al, much of it owing to the fierce checking and positional play, clearly the Kings have heard the message of coach Darryl Sutter that defensive play breeds success, the Kings smothered the Canuck attack and then capitalized on their opportunities, a strategy they will have to continue on with as they face the Blues.

St. Louis is the poster child for building a team for this era of the NHL.  One of the league's trouble spots a few years ago as ownership woes continued to dog the once blue chip franchise, things settled down on the financial pages (though not completely off the radar it would seem) and the Blues responded, but not before a coaching change brought Ken Hitchcock to the Blues bench, a time point that clearly pushed the Blues on to greater success and to a high placement in the standings at playoff time.

The majority of the Blues success came out of the goal tending tandem of Halak and Ellitot, interchangeable it seems in the nets, the yin and yang of goal tending breeding confidence upon a young team that took advantage of that security in the nets.

The Blues showcased just how well they have bought into the Hitchcock system with their victory over the Sharks, exploiting the San Jose weaknesses and taking the play to them at every opportunity, something that they will most likely continue on with in the second round.

The Blues conquered Northern California in round one, Southern California would seem to be next on the  list, but not without a fight.

Kings in seven

Washington and New York Rangers

The Capitals slayed the Stanley Cup champions and now they hope to conquer Broadway, hot off their success at the TD Gardens, Dale Hunters squad heads off to Madison Square to see if they can rattle the Rangers in round two.

The Caps found success based mainly on team play and reward for hard work, the most vibrant example of the new regime of Dale Hunter being that Alexander Ovechkin found himself on the bench as often as he was on the ice in round one.

Something that seemingly didn't sit well at times with Ovechkin, but clearly set the tone for his team mates that effort gets you ice time, drifting doesn't.

It's always risky when you park the highest paid and highest profile player in your lineup, but if round one is an indication who can argue with the result.  The Caps found goals from the role players of the checking lines backed up with outstanding goal tending from the rising star of Braden Holtby, for fans who are tired of underachieving squads, Washington's round one success might be a tonic.

Now if only they could get Ovechkin and some of the other high profile Capitals untracked and there may be danger in round two.

The Rangers most likely have taken note of the culture shift in Washington, the Capitals now a team very much like themselves.

Ottawa gave the Rangers as much as they could handle, if not for the stellar work of Henrik Lundqvist the  always boisterous Rangers fans would have to be seeking out other options for their spring viewing.

Back in the regular season the Rangers' brass made much about this being the year for a Stanley Cup parade in Manhattan, after a round one scare, head coach JohnTortorella will no doubt get his team back on track towards that goal.

It will be an entertaining series, but you have to think that the Rangers have been playing the total team concept all year, while the Caps seemingly have only embraced that concept, to that we suspect the Rangers have the edge in round two.

Rangers in seven

New Jersey and Philadelphia

It's a commuter series for the Flyers and Devils. no lengthy travel and most likely no overnight stays unless team building and distraction avoidance dictates it.

The first indicator for anyone looking for a clue as to success in this series is obviously the goal tending and to that the Devils hold the ace card.  Marty Brodeur once again added to his accomplishments with a round one series victory over Florida, his work in game seven the glue that kept the Devils engaged in the game until victory came their way. And while he had a bad game in round one, relieved of his duties for the first time in recent memory, overall he was a solid force for the Devils in the net.

Compare that to the insanity of the Philly/Penguin series and you have to think that the Flyers are going to need to solve their woes there pretty darn fast.  Ilya Bryzgalov tended to settle things down at the end of the first round, but visions of puck after puck disappearing behind him in the early going provides a cautionary tale for the Flyers and their fans that danger lurks on every shot.

The Flyers probably have an edge on offence, gifted forward lines can score as required, though perhaps we have our thoughts coloured by the unsteady performance of Marc Andre Fleury in the early going,  the Devils won't have such difficulties in round two.

Goals will be harder to come by for Philadelphia in the second round, the style of play most likely more to the liking of the Devils, the Flyers won the battle of Pennsylvania but in a Jersey border war, we see the Devils moving forward into round three.

Devils in six games