The Pacific Coast is always one of my favorite things to watch during the playoffs.
The three California teams make up a remarkable rivalry with one another, and the (now two) desert teams within a few hours’ drive makes for a unique divide in the Pacific Division between the California-desert franchises and the Western Canada ones in terms of who hates who the most.
The best part of this is that each year, at least one of the Western Conference matchups seems to be between two California teams - and this year, the third Cali franchise is pitted against their northern desert rivals in Las Vegas. It adds a bit of a bloodthirsty element to those first-round games, giving incentive to watch those 10 pm puck drops for the rest of the hockey world.
This year, some may argue that the 3-0 series leads for both Vegas and San Jose make it a little less fun.
Marc-Andre Fleury has backstopped the Golden Knights, coupled with some relentless offensive drive on their part and a lukewarm scoring effort from the Kings, to three consecutive playoff victories in their first year as a team. Even if they end up getting reverse swept by the Kings, they’re the most successful first-season expansion franchise in league history, although it hasn’t looked particularly evenly-matched.
Surprisingly enough, the San Jose-Anaheim series looks like it’s going the same way. With the Monday night 8-1 curb-stomping of the Ducks at the SAP Center in NorCal, Anaheim would need to steal their next game on the road in order to even have a chance to keep the series alive on home ice. With two of their final four potential series games on the road, it would take a hell of a lot to see them pull off the reverse sweep themselves.
Then again, the rich California playoff storylines giveth us hope, even in the seemingly-hopeless place of SoCal: not only have the Kings pulled off a reverse sweep upset before, they’ve done it on the San Jose Sharks (whom the Ducks would need to reverse sweep themselves in order to advance).
Is it likely? No. But as the rest of the games Monday night showed, miracles do happen...
Starting with the Colorado series: the Avalanche won!
The 28-11-2 record that the Avs had at home during the regular season is a nice reminder that the team absolutely loves playing at The Can, and they came up big with a 5-3 victory Monday night to prove it. [Mile High Hockey]
Oh - and everyone who wants more hockey is cheering for that to happen again!
Avs are fired UP. Devils were. Leafs were. Always thrilling to see the little guys punch back on home ice with crowd behind them. Gives me chills.— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) April 17, 2018
Sincerely, a guy who cheers for every series to go seven games / quadruple OT
Also, if you don’t already, you should follow the fun guys over at Eurolanche. Their recaps have been pretty neat to catch up on, and the excitement on their Twitter account is infectious. [Eurolanche]
In slightly less fun news, the team officially bid farewell to the San Antonio Rampage this week. With the AHL affiliate officially out of the playoff hunt, their year is over - and this time next year, San Antonio will be aligned with the St. Louis Blues, who lost their own affiliate to the Vegas team this summer. [MHH]
Now, for a quick look at the other games from Monday night!
I think this tweet pretty much sums up how things went for the Ducks:
Remember when I said that there’s always that chance for a reverse sweep?
The Kings have a stronger chance than the Ducks based on the scores of their first three games, and these Kings have a worse chance than the 2014 Kings who pulled it off. That pretty much tells you all you need to know.
NHL postseason scoring nuggets:— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) April 17, 2018
1. One of the two teams has scored at least 5 goals in 14 of the 20 Stanley Cup Playoffs games so far.
2. 13 of the 16 teams have a game with 4+ goals, while the Kings + Ducks have each scored 3 total in 3 games.
(takes deep breath, laughs until sides hurt)
The Leafs also managed to pull off a win of their own, after getting essentially worked in games one and two on the road. If they can keep focusing all their attention on the Bergeron line - and David Pastrnak in particular - this series may actually have some bite to it. [WEEI]
I’m also very happy for noted Good Boy Cory Schneider for pulling off a decisive win for New Jersey on Monday, since it was his first win since December 27th. insert everything is fine gif [Sporting News]
If you have no other skin in the Devils-Lightning series, at least hope for some wins in Jersey to piss off all the howling Oilers writers who want nothing more than to see Taylor Hall fail. And for Brian Boyle, who fought cancer this season AND IS CURRENTLY PLAYING ANYWAY.
Finally, a note to our Predators fans:
To those I haven’t explicitly responded to in the comments yet, welcome! You all seem pretty nice, for the most part. I hope you enjoy the Flurries as much as I tend to enjoy writing them.
That being said, a few friendly guidelines for hanging out in our comment section, please and thank you:
- If you have something you’d like me to include, I’ll give you the same advice as our Avs fans here. Just toss it in the comment section, which I read from the day before while I’m crafting these up each night, or shoot me a DM on twitter @catmsilverman. My messages remain open for anyone who isn’t there to troll or harass.
- If you have a disagreement, chirp away, but keep it civil! Nice reminder that this is, after all, an Avalanche blog. I am here all day for the fun back-and-forth, but trying to edge out the fans this is made for won’t fly (sorry)
- If the only thing you’re here for is to criticize everything about the Avs... find something better to do with your lives. Seriously. It is mid-April, in Nashville, Tennessee! Here is your forecast for tomorrow. For fuck’s sake, go get some fresh air or something instead of hunching over your keyboard and angrily smashing all the keys at once to complain about how bad Joe Sakic is at his job (he’s not. May I introduce you to Peter Chiarelli?) and why Avs fans are stupid for not giving credit to your own GM for somehow orchestrating a trade that heavily benefits a divisional rival. Seriously.
It was 102 F here in Phoenix, Arizona last Tuesday and my brother up in the Quad Cities just got more snow dumped on his sorry self this past week. Go take advantage of the sunshine and let your antagonistic desires blow away into the wind. It’s good for your blood pressure.