NHL Week in Review (April 8-14)

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Nobody has ever said that the playoffs are predictable in any sport but when there is more than just one game in the playoffs things might settle down. There are always surprises but with a best of 7 series the better team will usually come out on top. The underdog can usually win one game and surprise everyone but when the second game comes along the better team has adjusted and is usually much tougher to beat. Even with this the NHL playoffs have proved to be consistently exciting every year with surprises around every corner. Whether it is an unexpected run at the playoffs by a #8 team or the collapse of a #1 team there is always unpredictability in the playoffs. This is true of the 2012 playoffs as well with a number of surprises in the first round with only two games down for most teams. As the first round approached it seemed that most people had two teams in mind for the Stanley cup Finals. Last year’s runner ups the Vancouver Canucks were seen as a favorite to repeat in the West. With an experienced team from last year the Canucks won the President’s Trophy in 2012 and were coming into the playoffs looking to make up for the loss in 2011. They would take on the Los Angeles Kings in the first round who squeaked into the playoffs after struggling to score most of the season. Many thought that the Kings could be a dark horse in the playoffs and might be a team tailor-made to beat the Canucks. With all of this they were still given little chance by many to win the series and although some thought they may give the Canucks a challenge they still could not get past them. When the series started it turned out that the minority was right and that the Kings were built to give the Canucks and they proved it beating the Canucks in the first two games in Vancouver. Led by Jonathan Quick and Brad Richards the Kings have surprised everyone getting out to a 2-0 lead in the series as they travel back to Los Angeles for game three as they look to really back the Canucks into a corner. More surprising than that is another series where the battle of Pennsylvania takes on a new meaning in the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins came in to the playoffs playing the best hockey out of anyone in the NHL with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading two of the most lethal lines in the league. They became a Stanley Cup favorite when Crosby came back from injury and have remained so throughout the end of the season. They would take on their state rivals in the Philadelphia Flyers who were full of young talent that many thought would crumble under the pressure of the playoffs. The Flyers young guns have done quite the opposite though as they have surprised everyone by going ahead 2-0 in the series against the consensus favorite to win the Cup. The Penguins have had no answer for the Flyers and their great offensive attack and will now travel down the interstate to Philadelphia and try to get back into the series in front of a very hostile crowd. Both the Canucks and the Penguins have underperformed and have been bested by teams that are on fire. It is still early of course with only two games in the bag but both teams will be away from home trying to get back into the series. If either of these teams fall in their next game it could mean serious trouble for the two favorites as coming back from a 3-0 deficit is a very tough hill to climb and could mean the beginning to the end of their playoff run. Expect the unexpected for the rest of the playoffs as if both of these teams leave early the cup will be up for grabs with anything possible.

The first round has been exciting so far with great goals and great saves and plenty of surprises but there is one aspect that seems to be consistent. That is the Referees in the playoffs as they remain consistently inconsistent through the 2012 playoffs. The referees in the playoffs tend to be a little loose as they let more things go in the playoffs to keep the game flowing. This year though the referees have been all over the map through many of the series. There have been some series that have seen penalties called on every play slowing the game down tremendously. Then there have been series where nothing is called and it seems to be a free for all in every game. Of course referees are easy to pick on because they all blow calls at some point but the biggest issue is consistency. If they call everything continue to call everything and vice versa. This has not happened so far in the first round and many games have seen the referees play a big role. The biggest one may be the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia series where the first game saw the Penguins get out to an early 3-0 lead only to lose the game. A major play in the Flyers comeback was a goal by Daniel Briere but the goal should have never happened as Briere was over the line by almost 3 feet and the play should have been an offside. Instead the play went on and Briere scored the goal that was a momentum turner. There have been many more issues with the refereeing as well and most teams have seen some issues. This is one of the worst things that can happen as the referees need to be as little a factor as possible in these games because they mean too much. Everything is magnified in the playoffs and all mistakes are analyzed but the referees will likely get in a groove much like the players and will become more consistent as the games go on. The only issue may be how many games they will change on their way to becoming more consistent.

 

NHL Playoffs

 

Eastern Conference:

New York Rangers 1 – 1 Ottawa Senators

Game 1: NYR 4 – 2 OTT

Game 2: OTT 3 – 2 NYR (OT)

Game 3: NYR @ OTT (April 16th; 7:30 pm)

Game 4: NYR @ OTT (April 18th; 7:30 pm)

Game 5: OTT @ NYR (April 21st; 7:00 pm)

Game 6: NYR @ OTT (April 23rd; TBD)

Game 7: OTT @ NYR (April 26th; TBD)

 

Boston Bruins 1 – 1 Washington Capitals

Game 1: BOS 1 – 0 (OT)

Game 2: WAS 2 – 1 BOS (2OT)

Game 3: BOS @ WAS (April 16th; 7:30 pm)

Game 4: BOS @ WAS (April 19th; 7:30 pm)

Game 5: WAS @ BOS (April 21st; 3:00 pm)

Game 6: BOS @ WAS (April 22nd; TBD)

Game 7: WAS @ BOS (April 25th; TBD)

 

Florida Panthers 0 – 1 New Jersey Devils

Game 1: NJD 3 – 2 FLA

Game 2: NJD @ FLA (April 15th; 7:30 pm)

Game 3: FLA @ NJD (April 17th; 7:30 pm)

Game 4: FLA @ NJD (April 19th; 7:00 pm)

Game 5: NJD @ FLA (April 21st; 6:30 pm)

Game 6: FLA @ NJD (April 24th; TBD)

Game 7: NJD @ FLA (April 26th; TBD)

 

Pittsburgh Penguins 0 – 2 Philadelphia Flyers

Game 1: PHI 4 – 3 PIT (OT)

Game 2: PHI 8 – 5 PIT

Game 3: PIT @ PHI (April 15th; 3:00 pm)

Game 4: PIT @ PHI (April 18th; 7:30 pm)

Game 5: PHI @ PIT (April 20th; 7:30 pm)

Game 6: PIT @ PHI (April 22nd; TBD)

Game 7: PHI @ PIT (April 24th; TBD)

 

Western Conference:

Vancouver Canucks 0 – 2 Los Angeles Kings

Game 1: LAK 4 – 2 VAN

Game 2: LAK 4 – 2 VAN

Game 3: VAN @ LAK (April 15th; 10:30 pm)

Game 4: VAN @ LAK (April 18th; 10:00 pm)

Game 5: LAK @ VAN (April 22nd; TBD)

Game 6: VAN @ LAK (April 24th; TBD)

Game 7: LAK @ VAN (April 26th; TBD)

 

St. Louis Blues 1 – 1 San Jose Sharks

Game 1: SJS 3 – 2 STL (2OT)

Game 2: STL 2 – 0 SJS

Game 3: STL @ SJS (April 16th; 10:00 pm)

Game 4: STL @ SJS (April 19th; 10:30 pm)

Game 5: SJS @ STL (April 21st; 7:30 pm)

Game 6: STL @ SJS (April 23rd; TBD)

Game 7: SJS @ STL (April 25th; TBD)

 

Phoenix Coyotes 1 – 1 Chicago Blackhawks

Game 1: PHX 3 – 2 (OT)

Game 2: CHI 4 – 3 PHX (OT)

Game 3: PHX @ CHI (April 17th; 9:00 pm)

Game 4: PHX @ CHI (April 19th; 8:00 pm)

Game 5: CHI @ PHX (April 21st; 10:00 pm)

Game 6: PHX @ CHI (April 23rd; TBD)

Game 7: CHI @ PHX (April 25th; TBD)

 

Nashville Predators 1 – 1 Detroit Red Wings

Game 1: NSH 3 – 2 DET

Game 2: DET 3 – 2 NSH

Game 3: NSH @ DET (April 15th; 12:00 pm)

Game 4: NSH @ DET (April 17th; 7:30 pm)

Game 5: DET @ NSH (April 20th; 8:00 pm)

Game 6: NSH @ DET (April 22nd; TBD)

Game 7: SET @ NSH (April 24th; TBD)

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