The first round of the NHL playoffs is in the books. There weren't a ton of surprises - 3 of the 6 top seeds advanced - but there were a few things that came to light.
Versus no longer sucks
When The Network Formally Known As OLN started covering hockey back in the fall of 2005, it was an ugly, ugly thing to see (thank goodness for them nobody watches hockey in the US). The graphics were circa 1973 and the camera work was about on par with some guy recording a high school basketball game with his dad's camcorder. Those days are over. Today, the lucky few who do happen to stumble across channel 608 on the DirecTV dial are treated to a solid, professional broadcast. The studio coverage with Bill Clement, Keith Jones and Hair Engblom is insightful, and the game coverage is generally solid. Now they just need to promise to never use the rail cam again, and agree to put an end to Pierre McGuire blathering on and on about how he's on a first name basis with every NHL player.
Dallas fans need to find a new scapegoat
The Stars haven't made it out of the first round of the playoffs since the spring of 2003. The popular sentiment has been that a big cause of this failure was Marty Turco. You know the drill: Turco is not a "playoff goalie". Yeah, right. If Turco's 3 shutouts wasn't enough to shut those people up, there's about 20 other NHL teams who would be happy to take Turco off of Dallas' hands.
Ottawa fans have short memories
No team has epitomized playoff disappointment in the 21st century more than the Ottawa Senators. The team has averaged 104 points over the last 8 seasons, but, of course, there's nothing to show for it in the postseason. That didn't stop the fans of the storied franchise from taunting the Penguins mercilessly during first round home games. It's behavior you don't see in the regular season, because Scotiabank Place is populated from October to March with Toronto Maple Leaf fans. But now it's April, and the Sens fans have shown up for their annual spring bandwagon ride. Great. There's nothing quite like cocky fans who have absolutely no excuse to be cocky.
It's more meaningful to win in throwback jerseys
Both the Sabres and Canucks donned their throwback style 3rd jerseys for their series-clinching games. Which raises the obvious question: if history is so important to these clubs, why not just just make those jerseys their normal jerseys to begin with? Oh yeah, merchandise sales. Sorry. Please carry on.
Referees don't understand goaltender interferenceYes, officiating was inconsistent throughout the first round. Nowhere was this more prevalent than goaltender interference. Just about every game I watched had either a call made that shouldn't have been, or one that wasn't that should have. One would think this would be a relatively easy call to get correct, but I guess one would be wrong.
Jacques Lemaire is a sore loser
Lemaire and Derek Boogaard did not take part in the post-game handshake after the Ducks eliminated the Wild from the playoffs. Lemaire said he was mad about the cheap shot Brad May took on Kim Johnsson and angry that Brian Burke said the Ducks were tougher than the Wild. Note to Lemaire: ok, valid point on the May thing, but...Brian Burke was right. His team was tougher than yours. Toughness is not one goon trying to start stuff before the game and then being too chickenshit to shake hands with the team after the smoke clears. That's just plain old cowardice. Hey, I despise Brian Burke too, but his team beat you mostly fair and square. Be a man and shake his hand, you big baby.