After the Boston Bruins thrilling 2-0 game 3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask was interviewed. Pierre McGuire has done the interviewing between periods, during the games and after the games and was questioning Rask about if he practiced his rebound control when Rask decided to share his two cents about the ice. He responded by saying “…It’s tough because the ice gets so shitty towards the end of the periods.” Wow no one picked up on it or anything, maybe the NHL just thought people wouldn’t notice due to Rask’s accent?
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The Stanley Cup is one of the hardest trophies to win in all of sports. For a team to dance with Lord Stanley’s Cup on center ice, they need to win 16 grueling playoff games against some of the best competition in the world. Last year, the Los Angeles Kings took the hard route as the 8-seed on their way to hockey glory.
With one round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the books, we are now down to the best eight teams remaining. From the East there is the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Ottawa Senators, and the Boston Bruins vs. the New York Rangers. Out west the Chicago Blackhawks are battling the Detroit Red Wings while the Los Angeles Kings are squared up against their California rival the San Jose Sharks.
In the first round of the playoffs in the East, the 7-seed Senators and the 6-seed Rangers both advanced after pulling off upsets of better seeded teams, the 2-seed Montreal Canadians and the 3-seed Washington Capitals respectively. On the west side, the biggest upset was the 7-seed Detroit Red Wings beating the Anaheim Ducks in 7 games.
Now that we are one round closer to crowning a Stanley Cup champion for this season, let’s take a look at each match-up and what you should be expecting.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
The Pittsburgh Penguins may have the best team in the NHL on paper. There is no other team that can match the star power of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. The Ottawa Senators have started out the series in a 2-1 hole but still see plenty of opportunity and time to get back into the series. It looked all but over for the lone team from Canada but their shorthanded goal with less than 3 minutes to play in game three propelled them to a double overtime win, it would have been close to a sure thing that Pittsburgh would have closed them out in 4 or 5 games had they gone up 3-0 in a best of 7.
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (6) New York Rangers
The Boston Bruins may have won the most exciting game that has been played so far in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last round they found themselves down by 3 goals in the 3rd period of game 7. The B’s rallied back to tie the game in the closing seconds and then advanced to the next round with the game winning goal in overtime. So far in the second round the Bruins have kept their momentum rolling and have captured an early 2-0 series lead heading back to New York for games 3 and 4. Tuukka Rask has been sensational in net, they play tonight in Madison Square Garden with a chance to take a very commanding 3-0 lead on the Boys In Blue.
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Detroit Redwings
Chicago has proven this season they are a legitimate contender with 2 goalies playing at a championship level, however Chicago has looked less than perfect so far in their series against Detroit. After the Red Wings game 3 win they took a 2-1 series lead with game 4 also taking place on their home ice. Chicago sure has the talent and depth to extend this series, but the savvy Wings have grinded out playoff wins before, game 4 and 5 will be must see TV.
(5) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
The defending Stanley Cup champion has looked up to the task of a repeat so far in these playoffs. After cruising through the playoffs in the first round, the Sharks will find a much tougher task with the Kings. So far the Kings have controlled the series and lead 2-1 with the next game being played in San Jose with the Sharks looking for a series tie. Much like the Ottawa-Pitt series game 3 went to overtime and the Sharks win probably saved this series from being a blowout. The Kings have looked highly impressive this far so San Jose will need to take advantage of home ice in game 4 to tie the series if they want their best chance of winning.
By: Jenna Smith- Sports-Kings Contributor
Game One Thursday night brought some familiar foes face to face for the 4th time in 5 years. Alexander Ovechkin would face off against “King Henrik” Lundqvist. The advantage goes 1-0 Ovechkin. At the 6:59 mark of the 2nd period, Capitals superstar forward Alex Ovechkin, raced toward the net and tipped in a power play goal to tie the game up at 1 a piece.
What was lost in this goal is the fact that Ovechkin surpassed Peter Bondra as the Capitals all-time leading player in playoff goals scored. Ovechkin’s 31st postseason goal got the team rolling in what would be a game changing period for the Capitals. They went on to score two more times in the period and end up outlasting the New York Rangers 3-1 to take a series lead of 1-0.
Alexander Ovechkin is playing in his 7th season and has already surpassed the 30 goal mark that Bondra set in his long tenure (including a Stanley Cup Finals run). Ovechkin isn’t even ranked in the Capitals top 10 of all time games played, however he is ranked in the top 3 in goals, power play goals and points. Not to mention, Peter Bondra played in 961 career games as a Capital to Ovechkin’s 601.
It is just one more notch on Ovechkin’s record setting career in Washington D.C. however he will take a series leading victory en route to the Stanley Cup Finals over a record any day. For now, he will rack up the goals and hope to advance his team to their 2nd ever Stanley Cup Final berth.
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The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs usually end on weird bounces or strange gaffes. Well tonight proved no different. Los Angeles Kings goaltender Johnathan Quick comes up with the playoffs first big misplay of the puck. Alex Steen ends up stealing the puck from Quick and puts home his second goal of the night in a 2-1 St. Louis Blues victory.
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In Washington DC it feels like the “good ole days” again. Alexander Ovechkin just capped off the 2013 NHL regular season by winning the Rocket Richard trophy for the third time in his career. For the second time in their playing career, Mike Green led all defenseman in goals scored while Ovechkin won the Richard Trophy.
Alexander Ovechkin ended the season with 32 goals in 48 games, while the second place Steven Stamkos had 29 goals. Mike Green had a much closer margin in edging out Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban 12 goals to 11. After the wretched start the Capitals had in January and most of February, who knew that these two players would end on such a tear.
If the Capitals production is to continue with a long playoff run, it will be up to these two guys to keep it going. They have both enjoyed tremendous success on the leagues top power play (26.8%). Mike Green netting 4 of his 12 goals on the power play while Alex Ovechkin lit it up for a league leading 16 power play goals. Steven Stamkos was the only other player to reach double digit power play goals (10).
Whatever has gotten into the Capitals offense is going to have to keep going strong in order to move on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Any and all trophies earned during the regular season became very expensive paper weights if the team doesn’t bring Lord Stanley’s Cup home.
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