The first round is over and as always there was some great, high-tempo, heavy-hitting hockey. Some stray thoughts:
- The Boston-Toronto series was, for me, a big disappointment. It was nowhere near as physical as a lot of people (myself included) thought it would be. I was actually hoping the Leafs would pull it off, so that there would be a little more Canadian flavor to the second round, but things ended in predictably disastrous fashion for the Leafs. A highlight for the Leafs, though, was the play of Grabovski, who despite not putting up points, didn’t give up on a single play, getting run over time and time again, but getting right back up.
- What Toronto and Boston lacked in craziness, the Canadiens and Senators made up for. I hadn’t seen an actual line brawl in a long time and there it was, happening between two teams that rarely engage in fisticuffs. Montreal’s lack of discipline killed them. Karlsson didn’t play as large a part of the Senators success as I thought he would.
- John Tavares gets better and better with age. The team around him is growing up, too. Watch out for them in the next couple of years.
- The highlight of the first round was definitely Niklas Kronwall’s beautiful hit on Kyle Palmieri, the crowd’s reaction to the hit and the following “You got Kronwall’d” chant.
And now, on to the second round.
After a great Sunday game between the Bruins and the Senators the East is all set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The final placings didn’t work out how I would have liked them to, but there’s sure to be some great hockey coming up.
Ideally, I would have loved to have seen a Canadiens-Maple Leafs match up. I’m a Montréal fan and a Leafs hater and watching two of the oldest rivals in pro-sports play each other would have been great (it’s been far too long since they last met in the playoffs). That being said, I’m sure the Bruins-Leafs series will be fun to watch as both teams have a good deal of rough and tumble to them. Also, a team that I’ve come to like a lot over the last half-decade are the Islanders, but unfortunately for them, they drew the Penguins in the first round, which is definitely bad news for them. Anyways, lots to look forward to.
On to the predictions:
It’s spring and that means two things for me: spastic allergic reactions to pollen and the arrival of the NHL playoffs. The latter came a little late this year, but at least they’re here, which is good considering that the lockout came very close to washing out the whole season.
We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to know who exactly will play whom in the East, but the West is all ready to go, so I’ll start with them.