Congratulations to the Boston Bruins, who advance to the NHL conference finals after sweeping Philadelphia 4-0. ¬†NHL playoffs very often go to the team with the hot goaltender, and the dichotomy between the two team’s goalie situations was immense. ¬†The Flyers somehow managed to win the first round despite not being satisfied with the performance of any of their three goalies. ¬†The turning point in this series was game two; Philadelphia completely outplayed the Bruins, constantly controlling the puck and keeping it in their offensive zone. ¬†In the third period and overtime the Flyers outshot the Bruins 32 to 12 – yet the Bruins outscored Philly 2-0 during that time. ¬†When the game was over the Flyers had put 54 shots on net and scored just twice and had 13 more shots on goals than the Bruins did. ¬†To lose at home and go down 0-2 after giving your opponent your best shot, and now having to play them and win on their home ice has to be extremely deflating for a team – and it was. ¬†Tim Thomas‘ superior performance sucked the life out of the Flyers, and they were toast from that point on.
Now the Bruins face a much tougher challenge with the Tampa Bay Lightning. ¬†The Lightning have a good power play with skilled players such as Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. ¬†Much of their offense is generated by turnovers in the middle of the ice that their 1-3-1 defense forces. ¬†For more on that defense, how it works and how to beat it, check out The 411 on the 1-3-1 which was written by a fan of the team that the Lightning just beat, the top ranked Washington Capitals.
The latest controversy now involves the home of the Lightning, the St. Pete Times Forum – which, oddly enough is not located in St. Pete – it’s in Tampa. ¬†Apparently the site is booked from Thursday May 19 through Sunday May 22 for Disney on Ice Presents Toy Story 3. ¬†Both teams are ready to go but the NHL won’t start a new round of playoffs until all the previous series are completed – and one Western Conference series is still going on.
San Jose leads Detroit 3-2 with Game 6 ¬†Tuesday in Detroit, and if necessary Game 7 Thursday in San Jose. ¬† Vancouver beat Nashville Monday to wrap up the other series. ¬†If the Sharks and Wings go to Game 7 on Thursday, the Bruins and Lightning would not start until Saturday. ¬†Game 2 would be Monday, Game 3 in Tampa on Wednesday – and then Game 4 would presumably not be able to be played until Monday May 23. ¬†Even if one of the Toy Story shows was canceled or moved, you still have to find ice time for the teams for their morning skate. ¬†I suppose the teams could do that elsewhere – there is a rink in Oldsmar, a town which borders Tampa – but that certainly is not the ideal situation.
A better alternative would be for the NHL to relax their rules regarding the start of each round of the playoffs. ¬†Go ahead and have the Bruins play Thursday, followed by Game 2 on Saturday. ¬†Then the two could play in Tampa on Monday and Wednesday and avoid conflict with Disney on Ice.
I do understand that these venues need to fill the seats with other events. ¬†For example Rush and Lady GaGa concerts forced the first round schedule between the Bruins and Montreal to be scheduled. ¬†But these teams and the NHL need to be aware of these other commitments and be more flexible with their scheduling. ¬†In Montreal’s case they should have only booked one concert rather than two in a five-day time frame – especially for a week that would coincide with just the first round of the playoffs. ¬†As for Tampa’s situation, the NHL could easily avoid the scheduling conflict by going ahead and let the series start a few days earlier.
On one hand having to spend that much time on the road appears to be a potential negative, but it could also be a blessing. ¬†With Patrice Bergeron recovering from a “mild concussion” (is there really such a thing as a mild concussion?) the additional time off between games may actually the Bruins.
One final thought: NHL players have a long tradition of not shaving during the playoffs, until they either win the Stanley Cup or are eliminated. ¬†Now many male fans do the same as a show of support and unity for their favorite team. ¬†My question is this: are any female fans doing this as well?
On second thought, never mind – I don’t really want to know the answer to that question.
EDIT: Apparently the Disney Ice Show has been bumped. ¬†Games 1 and 2 will be in Boston at 8 pm on Saturday and Tuesday, then games 3 and 4 will be in Tampa on Thursday May 19 at 8 pm, and Saturday May 21 at 1:30. ¬†If necessary Game 5 will be in Boston on Monday May 23 at 8; Game 6 will be in Tampa on Wednesday May 25 at 8; and Game 7 would be in Boston on Friday May 27 at 8.