And we're back, for more second round action!
Frickin early games. Grumgrumgrumgrumgrum. #7 Washington Capitals at #1 New York Rangers, Game 1, 3:00 Eastern, NBC and CBC
The two teams with the shortest turnaround between series square off as the absolutely red hot rookie Braden Holtby takes his team into MSG. Both teams won their series in Game 7, with the Caps needing overtime and unlikely heroics from Joel Ward (not because he's black, racists, because he hadn't scored on a goalie since early January) to top the Bruins and the Rangers just needing regulartime to beat the Senators. Personally this is probably the second-round matchup I'm looking forward to most. On-fire Holtby v. dreamy Lundqvist. Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin. Will Tortorella say something whiny? Will Brian Boyle play? Will Alex Ovechkin? How mad will my Caps fan friends get when I call him Ovenchicken? Why are these two teams already back in action less than 48 hours after they advanced, especially Washington, who played the only back to back of the round in their series? That's silly season, NHL. Get it together.
Looking at the numbers from the tale of the tape, Holtby only played in the last match of the season (and Backstrom missed a lot too for that matter), which the Caps won. Let's make it a trend (imo)!
|Apr 7, 2012||WSH @ NYR||WSH, 4 - 1|
|Feb 12, 2012||WSH @ NYR||NYR, 3 - 2|
|Dec 28, 2011||NYR @ WSH||WSH, 4 - 1|
|Nov 25, 2011||NYR @ WSH||NYR, 6 - 3|
Ex-Avs and Hollywood! #8 Los Angeles Kings at #2 St. Louis Blues, Game 1, 7:30 Eastern, NBC Sports and TSN
You know, this might be the single best draw LA could have managed in the second round. After knocking off the Diving Whiners in round one, they get St. Louis, a team with less offensive firepower and a team they handled pretty well in the regular season. On the other hand St. Louis looks at LA and sees a mirror image. I imagine Hitchcock knows what he's doing here eh? LA needs more out of their top offensive weapons, like noted forward and likely zombie Anze Kopitar, to get past a stingy Blues D.
Ex-Avs to watch here include Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, forward Chris Stewart (maybe), and goaltender Brian Elliott, as well as Kings forward and perennial Avs killer Brad Richardson. Jonathan Quick can steal any given game and frankly I don't know the status of Jaroslav Halak for the Blues (but Ells was better against the Sharks in round 1 anyway). I don't have a dog in this fight, really, and will let the series dictate my bandwagon choice.
|Mar 22, 2012||STL @ LAK||LAK, 1 - 0|
|Feb 3, 2012||LAK @ STL||STL, 1 - 0|
|Nov 22, 2011||LAK @ STL||LAK, 3 - 2|
|Oct 18, 2011||STL @ LAK||LAK, 5 - 0|
That 5-0 game was before the coming of Hitchcock, so who knows? This should be a tight series but a good one I think.