First off... The National Hockey League has yet to announce the start of the Conference Finals in the East and West, but I can tell you after talking to Eddie Olczyk this morning to look for the Western Conference to start their series Sunday afternoon out in San Jose.
Eddie tells me it will be a noon start out in San Jose meaning a 3 p.m. start here in the Eastern Time Zone. Olczyk says Game 1 will be the only game on NBC this weekend, which means that the Eastern matchup... Montreal and the winner of game 7 between Philadelphia and Boston on Friday night, won't likely start until Sunday at the earliest. The NHL should be announcing the Conference finals schedule sometime in the next 48 hours. After that announcement the Blue Jackets broadcasters will make their picks as to who goes on to the Stanley Cup Finals and we haven't been right too often so far, so much for being experts!
Speaking of which, how many people do you think picked the Montreal Canadiens to be beat Washington and Pittsburgh to advance to the Eastern Conference Final? Not too many I'd think, but that is the case and who would have thought Montreal, with an undersized group of forwards, would be preparing today for their next opponent? Given the likes of Gomez, Cammalleri, Gionta, Moen and of course goaltender Halak, they get all the credit in the world for pulling off something that has never been done before - defeating the defending Stanley Cup Champion and Presidents' Trophy winner in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Who says the NHL is a BIG MAN'S GAME?
Regardless of their opponent in the next series Montreal is perhaps the team of destiny this spring and should be the favorite. And let me throw out some KUDOS to others who deserve credit for the Canadiens fine playoff showing. First off, there is their now former General Manager Bob Gainey, who resigned a few months back in part because of burn out but also because his offseason overhaul didn't seem to be working. The free agent signings of Cammalleri, Gionta, Gill and Moen, and the the trade for Gomez appeared to be a bust. But after securing a playoff spot in the final days of the season, Montreal has come together as a team and that I believe is to the credit of Gainey. Also if your watching the Eastern Final pay attention to the cameras panning the bench and watch as Kirk Muller, Montreal assistant and not Jacques Martin. Muller appears to be the voice on the bench and he got credit from the players for devising the Canadiens defensive plan for stopping Ovechkin in their first round series and no doubt did a similar game plan for stopping Crosby and the Penguins. This guy, mark my words, will be a head coach in the National Hockey League sooner than later and who knows maybe has opened the eyes of the Blue Jackets brass, although he is missing one criteria of never having been a head coach. Just some food for thought!
I am looking forward to yet another game 7 tomorrow night as the Bruins will attempt to avoid a fourth straight loss to the Flyers after winning the series first three games. They are a tired group and are playing with a decimated lineup. I picked the Flyers to win the series, but I certainly did not expect the series to be played out the way it has. I can't change my pick now and won't, but I do expect a better effort from Boston tomorrow night.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.