Around the NHL: Stories We Follow
It seems like this year's drama involving San Jose Sharks and playoffs is becoming the one of the epic proportions. Every chapter of this series has been the one that none of us could ever scripted or predicted. I still cannot grasp the concept of scoring an own goal in each of the three playoffs games, with two of them deciding the outcome in Colorado's favor. However, the drama of this year's Stanley Cup final is not limited to the Sharks-Avs series alone, and as NHL playoffs progress, Fear the Fin will also be taking a look at other playoffs stories, as they develop around the league.
- All the playoffs match ups ended up tied at 1-1 after two games. This is what I love the most about the NHL - the parity of the teams throughout the league. Every year since the lockout we've seen a different team rise to the top and win the Stanley Cup. Every year the winner has been very difficult to predict, and after watching the first two games of the playoffs series played, the last thing any reasonable NHL fan should try to do is to predict how all these series would end.
- I was not surprised the Sharks lost their home ice advantage against the Avalanche (I predicted the series would go six games to begin with). It was the home meltdown of the Capitals against Canadiens and of the Blackhawks against the Predators that had me raising my eyebrows in the Brezhnev fashion. Those two series are now tied. Both regular season games between the Caps and the Habs in Montreal had to be decided in a shootout, so good luck trying to predict where that series is headed, as the two teams face each other tonight. As for the Blackhawks, they'll probably live or die by their goaltending, as they only scored three goals in the first two games. Nashville's defense is as good as it has ever been in the past.
- With that said, the series that I am following with more interest than any other is the one between the Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings. Within a year, the Coyotes go from a club with no future to a possible Stanley Cup contender holding a lead in the series against red hot Red Wings. Playing with no pressure and an attitude of just-happy-to-be-here, the Coyotes players are giving their all on the ice. They are also playing a very smart defensive hockey, forcing Mike Babcock to criticize his top two lines yet again in this series. Very few things in this life bring me more pleasure than watching Detroit's meltdown in playoffs. I also wonder what's it like to be a Dallas Stars fan and see Dave Tippett winning this coaching battle over perhaps the greatest coach in the game right now?
- The inconsistent refereeing has been one of the main story lines surrounding the Sharks - Avs match up, and the message has been largely the same in other series around the league. Don't look any further than the Game 2 of the Canadiens - Capitals series (highlights are here). We understand that under pressure, the players can do all kinds of stupid things. But what pressure are the NHL referees under that would explain the roles they played in the drama so far?
- Several former Sharks from last year's roster are still playing this time of the year. So far, Mike Greer has been a non-factor in the Sabres - Bruins series and is credited with zero points in two games and a -1. The same goes for Travis Moen who has the exact same stats for the Habs. Christian Ehrhoff is one of the more visible players on the ice for the Canucks against the Kings, and has 1 assist and +2 after two games. Marcel Goc also has an assist for the Predators and is +1. Milan Michalek is not this lucky, as he tore his ACL in Game 1 against the Penguins and is done for the season. The injury is the worst of many he experiences this season and one cannot help but feel for the guy who's battled through so many injuries in his career.
- If one has no horses in this playoffs race, the start to this post season has been as entertaining to watch as any other in the recent memory.