What a great first night of the 2011-12 NHL playoffs. Great action and few things are better in sports than NHL playoff overtime. "The Stack" is here to recap the three games last night plus talk the other big sports headlines from Wednesday, so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, April 12:
1. Flyers rally from three down to take 1-0 series lead over Penguins
Going into the playoffs, most people were looking forward to this series as being the best series of the first round. Seven games sure looked like a possibility. Now that may come into question. The Pittsburgh Penguins came out like gangbusters, scoring three goals in the first period, including one by Sidney Crosby. But after the first intermission, the Penguins were flat, just coasting the rest of the way and the Flyers took advantage. Danny Briere got free and scored a breakaway goal in the second period to cut the lead to two. In the third, he added another goal and the Flyers tied it up on a power play later in the period. They had all the momentum. As great as overtime hocky is, did anyone think that with the way the Penguins had played the final two periods, that they would win in overtime? No. The Flyers scored less than three minutes in on a goal by Jakub Voracek, capping a furious comeback and winning 4-3 to take game one of the series. The Flyers have now stolen home ice. Can Pittsburgh turn on the switch just like that for game two? No question they are a talented team, but what they showed last night has to make Penguins fans nervous that this team won't get out of the first round. The first period of game two will tell a lot about where this team's head is at. If they can win game two convincingly, the Penguins will have the mojo back on their side. If not, this series could be over faster than people initially thought.
2. Predators hold off Red Wings to grab 1-0 series lead
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was sensational, making some fantastic saves, stopping 35 in all, as the Nashville Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 to take the first game of the best-of-seven series. Perhaps a little bit of luck was on Nashville's side. They got some fortuitous bounces with several Red Wings shots just missing the net and scoring a goal by shooting the puck off a Red Wing on a side shot. They got a redirect past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard in the second and they got contribution from a guy who had scored seven goals all season long, Gabriel Bourque, who scored two goals this game. The Red Wings looked like the better team after the first period, but Rinne stood strong. The Predators appear to be the more balanced team of the two, but the Red Wings playoff history bodes well for them. This is going to be a long series and Nashville is going to need their top players to step up if they want to oust the Red Wings.
3. Kings pull off the upset, beat Canucks in game one
Upsets are no stranger to the NHL playoffs. Even an eight seed over a one seed has happened in a series and the Los Angeles Kings are head in the right direction with that after beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in Vancouver last night in game one. The Kings were the more composed the team. The Canucks took eight penalties, letting their emotions get the best of them, including a five minute boarding major by Byron Bitz. The Kings scored one goal in that power play and scored two overall. The Canucks tied it with only seconds to go in the second and momentum seemed to be on their side. But the Kings killed a couple of big Canucks power plays in the third (they killed all five in the game) and kept getting shots on Robert Luongo and Los Angeles' Dustin Penner scored the game-winning goal with under four minutes to go in the game. Several experts have picked the Kings in this series and they may be on to something. Expect the Canucks to come out desperate and angry in game two. This looks like it could go a while.
Thursday's playoff games:
#8 Ottawa @ #1 New York Rangers 7:00 PM ET
#7 Washington @ #2 Boston 7:00 PM ET
#7 San Jose @ #2 St. Louis 7:00 PM ET
#6 Chicago @ #3 Phoenix 7:00 PM ET
4. Bobby Petrino thoughts
With the NHL playoff preview yesterday, no thoughts were given on Bobby Petrino being fired from Arkansas. Looking at it, Arkansas made the right decision. A surprising decision by many, considering other coaches have done worse and still kept their jobs, but the right one. The integrity of the program would have been in serious jeopardy had Petrino kept the job. The intergrity of the program may be in jeopardy even after firing Petrino. You can't be in a relationship with someone whom you're not married to if you're already married and it certainly shouldn't be with someone half your age. What's more, Petrino gave her a position on the team and there is a report that records show they talked often. Also, Petrino lied to his athletic director, lied to the university and had someone lie for him. That I think is what really led to Petrino's firing. He can't be trusted, but in reality, he's never been a trustworthy person. Look how he left the Atlanta Falcons. Disgraceful. While at Louisville, he tried taking several other head coaching jobs while on the team plane. He's not a good person.
On my radio show, "The Sports Block" on 90.7 KSDJ and ksdjradio.com Tuesday night (7:15-9:15 PM), someone called in and asked who is the worst person of following: Bobby Petrino, Gregg Williams or Ozzie Guillen. Petrino was the pick, and in the estimates of a few, it wasn't even close. Many people view Petrino as a very dislikeable guy and in my opinion, a sleazeball. How any university can think about offering him a head coaching position in the future is amazing. Yes he won twenty-one games the past two season at Arkansas, but kudos to the university for looking past that and ousting a cancer in the athletic program.
Arkansas fans are upset and they have a right to be. But they should be taking their anger out on Petrino for his actions that led him to be fired and not at the university for making the right decision to fire him.
5. College basketball recruiting news
The top ranked player in the 2012-13 college basketball class is heading to Kentucky. Nerlens Noel, a 6-foot-10 center from Everett, Massachusetts has picked the Wildcats and some are comparing him to Anthony Davis. That's high praise. John Calipari has always been able to land top recruits and he landed another gem here. But he missed out on one high ranked player. Shabazz Muhammad, the number two overall recruit from Las Vegas, Nevada picked UCLA over Kentucky and Duke. A lot of people were surprised by this, in large part because UCLA hasn't been very good lately and have struggled to get top recruits. Perhaps though, Muhammad wanted to be closer to home than all the way across the country at Duke or Kentucky. I don't know, but I think it is a plausable answer. One way or the other, this is a huge signing for a UCLA program that has been under fire in recent months with the report that head coach Ben Howland had lost control of his players and the program. Great news for Bruins fans.
Coming up Friday: Thursday NHL playoff game reactions plus other sports headlines from ThursdayComments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.