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.
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