Both #7 seeds, Montreal and Colorado, jumped out to 2-0 series leads on the road. The Habs and Jose Theodore are on a collision course for the final!
My incoherent yammerings from last night:
- The Playoffs are the Bizarro NHL. Teams that haven't given up a 3rd period lead all season promptly do in the playoffs. Home records and road records reverse. Mike Ribeiro throws bodychecks.
- Nice one liner from Harry Neale: "Carolina has given up more turnovers than Betty Crocker!"
- Souray left in the middle of the first period and did not return. The team is calling it a "contusion in the lower body," but anyone who saw the play (or heard Shelly's post-game falsetto) knows he got bagged with a shot. I think the Hockey Gods did this to give Souray a lesson: "Play the man, not the puck!"
- Souray's absence meant Andrei Markov would play 38 minutes. Fortunately, he should be back Wednesday night.
- Kovalev: "We're definitely a better team when we keep the 5-on-5 game." On the flip side, Carolina is clearly the better of the two teams when Montreal is down two men. Let that be a lesson. Two friggin' 5-on-3 goals... @&*%!
- Considering the 'Canes first goal was a fortunate bounce, the two aforementioned 5-on-3 goals, and the tying goal scored with an empty net, that the Habs still won has to be encouraging. That's a lot of crap not going Montreal's way.
- The Habs were playing it too safe late in the 3rd and got burned. When you have a power play and you intentionally ice the puck, you're playing it too safe. A goal on that PP would have ended the game.
- Stillman is Still the invisible man. Sure, he netted the tying goal in the 3rd but Recchi should have gotten credit. His screen immobilized Huet.
- Cherry, speaking of the Habs after the 3rd: "Are they stupid, or what?" This is the #7 seed facing the #2, they're up one game on the road and taking the next game into OT. Tough crowd. Guess you have to employ a Domi to impress Grapes.
I read recently an interesting quote from a coach or GM. Can't quite recall the exact wording, but it was to the effect of, "You shouldn't have to build two teams," meaning a team built for regular season success should also be successful in the playoffs. The rules and their interpretation should be consistent in both 'seasons.' It is a fair comment.
But what if game is different, and not due to officiating? What if the teams involved play hockey differently in the playoffs? The 'T' word has been tossed around more in the last five days than it was through the whole regular season. Bob Gainey is dressing different players than those who played regularly - and successfully, I might add - down the stretch.
You usually hear players say the 'intensity level' increases in the playoffs. I would wager that, if you looked hard enough, you could find some statistical evidence for a different game in the postseason.
My point is (yes, I have a point) that perhaps the Hurricanes and Canadiens are built for two different games. The Hurricanes were incredibly successful in the regular season, but the Habs are up 2-0. Might it be true that the old chestnut, 'defense wins championships,' has some truth to it? Perhaps, in an effort to increase interest after the lockout, Rutherford built the 'Canes to play an exciting and entertaining style for the new NHL. Meanwhile, North of the border, perhaps Gainey built his team for dull but sound defense, knowing the Canadian audience has a higher tolerance for defensive hockey.
Just a theory.
"It's not unusual for players to seek out medical help away from home. The Buffalo Sabres can thank the Canadiens team physician David Mulder, for getting Daniel Briere and J.P. Dumont back on the ice. He performed abdominal surgery on both players this season."
Little do they know that Dr. 'Fox' Mulder also implanted a mind-control device, programmed to activate should the teams meet in the playoffs ... bwahahaha!
Bucci articulates what so many of us are thinking:
"When the game is played at equal strength, it is unquestionably faster... Power plays slow the game down... If the players become tentative, the edge is gone."
The goal is to speed the game up. So they crack down on penalties that slow it down. Unfortunately, I fear the refs are being measured by the number of penalties called rather than the speed and quality of the game.