The NHL’s conference final round is underway, and in both the Western and Eastern regions, the series got off with a bang.
In both series, it is instructive to note the emphasis on (a) doing everything at full speed and (b) emphasizing the will factor over the to-be-expected skill.
The Rangers – Devils series is simply a classic Eastern Conference battle, with both teams possessing goaltenders (Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur) at the top of their respective games and two well-balanced teams in front of them. But for me, the play of Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi has been a real eye-opener.
Between them, the two blocked eight shots in Game One. Girardi got the all-important first goal. McDonagh’s skating ability rose to the top when he was able to catch Zach Parise on a breakaway and force Ilya Kovalchuk to a backhand chance on another break that made things easier for Lundqvist to stop the puck.
Of course, Lundqvist did enough of that on his own, especially with a rapid-fire, three-stop strategy (excuse my Formula One reference there) on Parise in the second period that had everybody at Madison Square Garden gawking.
In the Western Conference, Los Angeles has been acting like the team to beat. They fully outplayed the Phoenix Coyotes in Game One and that was not only accentuated by the 4-2 score but by Coyotes coach Dave Tippett’s analysis after the game. The Kings have been getting lots of great play from top guys like Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar but they are also really benefitting from the likes of Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, who are really making a difference by filling their assigned roles.
The most impressive thing about Los Angeles is that on a couple of miscues they gave up goals but lost absolutely none of their team composure and recovered quickly. Throw in the constant pressure at high speed and Quick’s goaltending, and you have quite a recipe.
All of this serves as food for thought as the Sharks continue their evaluation and begin to look toward the 2012-13 season.
|Randy Hahn and I posed in front of the identifying banner at Goss Elementary at the street hockey court. |
On Monday, it was a great pleasure to see that captain Joe Thornton
continues to provide leadership, not only for his team, but for his community.
Thornton led a group of individuals from the Sharks Foundation and the affiliated Good Tidings Foundation to Goss Elementary in San Jose, where the captain has sponsored the construction of a street hockey court and the necessary equipment to bring the game to a well-behaved student body that greeted Joe with enthusiasm. Randy Hahn and I were honored to represent Sharks broadcasters, and S.J. Sharkie was part of the pageantry that served to officially open the eighth such street hockey court that the organization has spearheaded with Good Tidings.Click here
to see more photos from the event.