Still not hooked on the NHL playoffs yet? Well just give them a chance. Through five days, the NHL playoffs have been simply awesome. Seven overtime games in the first four days alone. "The Stack" is here to talk the playoffs and other top stories from the weekend, so sit back and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, April 16:
1. Eastern conference thoughts
The Penguins-Flyers will be a seperate paragraph by itself thanks to all of the action taking place in the series. We'll start first with the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators with the series tied at one. After the Rangers cruised by the Senators in 4-2 in game one, most thought that it was foreshadowing what was to come. But the Senators were the aggressor in game two. Fights broke out like crazy. In fact, there were 45 penalty minutes in the first period alone. And several players may face suspensions for their roles in the fighting. Rangers rookie Carl Hagelin is suspended three games for his hit on Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. Two Senators may also be suspended. Chris Phillips gave an elbow to Rangers captain Ryan Callahan that could lead to him missing a game and Matt Carkner unnecessary attack on Rangers center Brian Boyle could lead a multiple game suspension. The Senators won game two 3-2. Bottom line, if the Senators continue to match the Rangers physical play for physical play, they may win this series. But it is difficult to match the Rangers style of play game after game. It will be interesting to se how the rest of this series unfolds.
In the Bruins-Capials series game two went to double overtime where the Capitals Nicklas Backstrom got one by Tim Thomas to win 2-1. The star of the series so far is little known Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. Forced into the lineup due to injuries, all Holtby has done is give up two goals in two games to a Bruins team that has great shooters. Holtby has stopped 72 of 74 shots in the first two games and is frustrating the Bruins with his fantastic stops. With the way Holtby has played in net for the Capitals, if Alexander Ovechkin can get the offense going, the Capitals may just pull the series upset.
The Panthers-Devils series is knotted at one apiece after the Panthers 4-2 win in game two. Goalie Jose Theodore made some big stops in game two and Stephen Weiss added two goals. Heading back to New Jersey, you've got to think that the Devils are in prime position. They have the home ice advantage now and truth be told, they have the better team. Florida's a good story and all, but the Devils have the better offense and the more experience goaltender. Look for the Devils to win game three Tuesday night.
2. Flyers dominating series against sloppy Penguins
Before the series started, the series had all of the ingredients of a seven game series. Really, it wouldn't have been surprising if either team won the series, because both teams are really talented. Good players, good coaches, good special teams. So far through three games, it's all Flyers. The Penguins weren't able to hold leads in the first two games...at home no less. That's a bad omen. They were sloppy on special teams, allowing both power play and shorthanded goals. Penguins goalie Marc Andre-Fleury has been especially bad, giving his fair share of rebounds and allowing far too many soft goals. It continued in game three as the Penguins got shellacked 8-4, giving the Flyers a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Penguins absolutely lost their composure in this game and their special team play was anything but special. The first period alone saw forty-two penalty minutes from the Penguins and thirty from the Flyers. For the game, the Penguins had 89 penalty minutes to the Flyers 59. And the Penguins had five players get game misconducts. They kept getting within one goal, butkept giving up goals and taking terrible penalties, resulting in power play goals for the Flyers. There were a few people, myself included that picked the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup. At this point, they'll be lucky to win a game. They've been a downright disgrace. They have the talent to come back in this series, but mentally, they don't have it at all. Philadelphia looks very good, but Pittsburgh is helping them do it.
3. Western conference thoughtsWho would have ever thought that the Canucks-Kings series, a one seed-eight seed matchup would be 3-0 in favor of the eight seed? Not this guy and if you said yes, you're a liar. What the Los Angeles Kings have done is nothing short of miraculous after their 1-0 win in game three. It took til the third period, but finally Dustin Brown, the MVP of the series in my opinion, scored on a rebound to give the Kings the only goal they would need. The Canucks came out like the more desperate team, because let's face it, they are. They came out with more intensity and more determination, but couldn't get anything by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Of note, the Canucks started Cory Schneider in place of Roberto Luongo. Schneider was good and it wouldn't be a surprise if he started game four for the Canucks. The team is just hoping the Sedin twins will be able to play. Daniel Sedin hasn't played a game in this series, a big reason why the Canucks are trailing, and Henrik Sedin got injured in game three. At this point, the Kings are just the more physical and hungry team and will make it to the second round of the playoffs.
The Blues-Sharks series is tied one to one. Thanks to Blues goalie Jaraslov Halak shuting out the Sharks 3-0 in game two. The Sharks do have the home ice advanatage in the series now, and appear to have the advantage in game three with Halak unlikely to play. Nothing has really stood out in this series, and despite the Sharks playoff history, they have a great chance to win this series because they are more experienced than the Blues. It will be interesting to see how this series unfolds, because at this point, it seems very difficult to pinpoint which team will win this series.
The Coyotes-Blackhawks series has had two exciting finishes and in game two, once again the Blackhawks found themselves trailing late in the third period only to score a goal with five second left in regulation. This time in overtime, they would up winning 4-3, but the big news is that Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw has a hearing today with the league on his hit on Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. It was a cheap shot, but one that you could see coming. After Smith dazzled in game one, I think the Blackhawks wanted to send a message to him and rough him up a bit. You know, get in his head. Well Smith's head is hurting, but physically, not mentally. Some will say what Shaw did is cheap and it probably was. We'll wait to see if he is suspended and for how long. My guess is that it will be for at least a game, but could have been more if Smith had been more seriously hurt. This series could easily be 2-0 Coyotes if they hadn???t given up the two late period goals. But the Blackhawks could be up be up 2-0 in the series as well had Coyotes goalie Mike Smith played out of his mind in game one, stopping shot after shot as the Blackhawks kept attacking. As the series shifts to Chicago, the Blackhawks have the momentum and they have the better team. Look for them to take control of the series.
The Predators-Red Wings series has been a good one. Interesting note in this series that all three games have ended 3-2. Nashville has won games one and three, Detroit game two. Nashville didn???t look particularly impressive in the first two games apart from goalie Pekka Rinne who made some very nice saves, but in game three Nashville really came to play. They got a 2-0 lead on the road and were able to stave of multiple rushes by Detroit to tie the game. They have taken home ice back from Detroit, but this series has six or seven games written all over it. Both teams play so evenly that it is difficult to say who???s got the edge. Right now, it???s Nashville.
Monday's playoff games include:
New York Rangers @ Ottawa Senators 7:30 PM ET
Boston Bruins @ Washington Capitals 7:30 PM ET
St. Louis Blues @ San Jose Sharks 10:00 PM ET
4. NFL quick hits
A couple spent one hundred thousand dollars to spend a day with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. It just goes to show you the power Tebow has and how much people love him. The money will go to his charity which is a good cause...New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will host Saturday Night Live May 5th. His brother Peyton Manning has hosted it before and did an oustanding job. I doubt Eli will be able to match Peyton, but it will be fun to watch...And reports are that the NFL schedule will be released Tuesday. This is always an anticipated day for NFL fans to see when their teams play their biggest rivals, will they play on Monday night, etc. It's exciting and brings the NFL season that much closer to starting.
5. NBA full court press
The Miami Heat got a big 93-85 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday. Dwayne Wade had 29 points to lead the Heat. The Heat have been struggling as of late and a win over a Knicks team fighting to make the playoffs has to help their confidence, but the Heat will be judged only on how they perform in the playoffs...The Los Angeles Lakers won their fourth straight game with Kobe Bryant sitting on the bench for a fifth straight game. They beat the Dallas Mavericks 112-108 in overtime. Andrew Bynum came up big for the Lakers scoring 23 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Seems like since head coach Mike Brown benched him that Bynum's game has really picked up and that makes the Lakers a dangerous team come playoffs.
Coming up Tuesday: NHL playoff reaction plus other top headlines in sports
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated