Jared Smithson celebrates his overtime goal in Game 5 vs. Anaheim. Nashville now leads the Western Conference Quarterfinal series 3-2 (Photo by Getty Images).
Everybody enjoying the playoffs so far? I sure am. I know a lot of fan bases around the league that turn the game off once their team is eliminated, but I don't think it's like that here in Edmonton. Everybody I know is paying at least some attention to these games, and many, like I am, are riveted by various series.
I gambled a little bit and picked Anaheim to come out of the West, and they're in trouble. My pick in the East, the Boston Bruins, aren't exactly having a cakewalk against Montreal. Buffalo seems poised to upset Philadelphia and Chicago's making it mighty interesting against Vancouver.
There have been five suspensions, countless blown multi-goal leads and a goal for the ages by Bobby Ryan. The moments, as they do every year, are starting to stack up.
This week, I'll share a quick thought on each series so far.Detroit vs. Phoenix
- Overshadowed by the talk of the Coyotes future, the Red Wings looked in fine form, reminding the rest of the West that they're still a force. I'm still not sold on Jimmy Howard in goal for Detroit, but he outclassed Ilya Bryzgalov in the opening round. Not that it took a lot...Vancouver vs. Chicago
- I think, by now, most people in this market know how I feel about the Canucks. I'm not cheering for another team in the post-season, but Chicago is really tempting me. In any case, it's becoming a remarkable storyline, particularly in goal for Vancouver.San Jose vs. Los Angeles
- I really feel for the Kings. They get riddled with injuries, including their best player, right before the playoffs. They lose the first game in OT and then cough up a huge lead and lose in OT again in Game 3. Just like last year, they're so close...of course the next question becomes, is this the year that San Jose keeps it rolling for more than a couple rounds?Anaheim vs. Nashville
- People forget that Nashville was moments away from winning Game 5 last year in the first round versus Chicago, before surrendering a heartbreaking shorthanded goal late in the third period. They were close last year, and might win their first playoff series in franchise history this year. The Predators have produced more offense than I thought they could, and my Anaheim pick is in serious jeopardy.Washington vs. New York
- Have the Capitals figured it out? Sure looks like it, though the Rangers will have the summer to lament a number of missed chances in this series.Philadelphia vs. Buffalo
- A recurring theme for the last 20 years, the Flyers have goaltending problems. A scrappy Buffalo team, backed by sensational play from their keeper, are 1 game away from sending the Flyers packing. The orange and black miss Pronger. Lots.Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh
- Honestly, haven't watched much of this. Can't imagine either team winning in the next round. Felt horrible for Roloson on the Game 4 OT goal, though. He had already made 50 saves and would stop that one the next 100 times it came his way, too.Boston vs. Montreal
- I picked the Bruins to come out of the East, and they looked dead after 2 games. Somehow, they won both in Montreal and we're all square again. I think they've figured Montreal out and, as I said on the radio on Thursday night, I don't think the Habs have a chance to win this Best of 3.
Unfortunately, the Oilers will have to wait at least until next April to start making new moments of their own, but in today's blog, I'll jog your memory of times past (courtesy of the NHL "Total Stanley Cup 2011" package:
*April 20, 1997. The Oilers staged a game tying, three-goal flurry in the last four minutes of the third period versus the Dallas Stars en route to a 4-3 overtime win in Game 3. It marked the first time since the NHL took exclusive control of the Stanley Cup in 1926-27 that a club had won a playoff game after trailing by three goals with less than five minutes to play. With Dallas leading 3-0 in the third period, Edmonton got goals from Doug Weight (16:00), Andrei Kovalenko (17:44) and Mike Grier (17:56) to tie the game, with Kelly Buchberger adding the game-winner at 9:15 of overtime. Edmonton took a 2-1 lead in the series and went on to win in seven games.
*May 4, 1998. Curtis Joseph blanked the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 to become just the second goaltender in NHL playoff history to post back-to-back shutouts in Games Six and Seven of a playoff series. Joseph and the Oilers recorded a 2-0 win over the Avalanche in Game Six.
*May 19, 1984. The Oilers won their first Stanley Cup title. Oilers center Mark Messier, who registered an 8-18-26 scoring mark in 19 playoff games, won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
*May 24, 1990. The Oilers won their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years with a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the 1990 Final at Boston Garden. Seven Oilers players—Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr, Randy Gregg, Charlie Huddy, Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier— were members of all five championship clubs.
*May 25, 1985. Wayne Gretzky notched three goals in the first period of a
4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers to tie an NHL record for one Final period. Three players— Toronto’s Harvey “Busher” Jackson (April 5, 1932), Detroit’s Ted Lindsay (April 5, 1955) and Montreal’s Maurice “Rocket” Richard (April 6, 1957)—previously shared the mark.
*June 5, 2006. Oilers defenseman Chris Pronger scored the first penalty-shot goal in Stanley
Cup Final history during Carolina's 5-4 victory in Game 1 of the series. Pronger's goal, against Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead at 10:36 of the second period. It was the ninth attempt overall in the Stanley Cup Final. Pronger had never attempted a penalty shot in the NHL.
*June 14, 2006. Fernando Pisani scored the first overtime, shorthanded goal in Stanley Cup Final history, giving the Oilers a 4-3 victory at Carolina in Game 5 of the series. It also marked the first overtime, shorthanded goal that staved off elimination for a team in any playoff round.
Author: Dan Tencer