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Thursday, April 30, 2021

rounded up
I always find the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs (or any sport’s first-round playoff, for that matter) to be the most exciting. With a full field of 16 teams in action, it’s truly got the variety that the subsequent thinning-out by elimination lacks. (On the other hand, I guess quantity gets traded for quality.)

As the Conference Semifinals commence tonight, here’s my brief wrap-up of the noteworthy happenings of Round One, starting with my personal disappointment by the collapse of a certain Manhattan-based squad:

- Yeah, the Rangers performed better than I thought they would versus Washington. And even if they had slipped past the Caps, they assuredly would have gotten swept next round by the Boston Bruins buzzsaw, so really, it’s just as well that they ended their postseason run early.

Still, did they have to implode so spectacularly? Blowing a 3-1 series edge, lapsing back into puck-overhandling instead of shoot-first offense, suffering a high-gloveside chink in King Henrik’s armor, and experiencing a comical meltdown in team discipline from the expected (barely-controllable pest Sean Avery) and unexpected (too-fiery head coach John Tortorella) sources. In some ways, the most disappointing shortcoming in the NHL this year.

- I’m prepared to designate the New Jersey-Carolina series as one of the best ever. The closing-seconds shocker that won Game 7 and the series for the ‘Canes was simply amazing, and will stick in my memory for as long as it sticks in the craw of the Devils and their fans.

- Not one for the ages, but the Chicago-Calgary series was probably the second-most entertaining pairing in this first round.

- Seriously, is anyone at all surprised that San Jose did the early-round bounce yet again? They’ve made an artform out of this. Their season-closing shakiness only reinforced their expected return to form. When the Ducks ticked up as the matchup partner, there was no doubt in my mind that Anaheim would dispatch their cross-state rivals. Frankly, I thought that even St. Louis would have had a fair shot at knocking off Team Teal, had the Blues lost their final regular-season game to land in the No. 8 seed.

- I really thought the Blues would put up a better fight. They gave the Canucks plenty to handle, but not eking out even a single win was surprising.

- I didn’t see anything to unconvince me that the Bruins are going to be lifting the Cup come June. That’s regardless of who comes out of the West.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/30/2009 09:17pm
Category: Hockey
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