Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How The Mighty Have Fallen

As we await game 7 vs. the Caps, looking around I see a bloodbath in the western conference and the makings of one in the east. All the teams in the west that were picked as favorites to win the cup have fallen: Vancouver in 5 to the Kings (how sweet is that B's fans?), San Jose in 5 to Saint Louis, Chicago in 6 to Phoenix, and Detroit in 5 to Nashville. None of these "great" teams even took it to the full seven games!

In the east, vaunted Pittsburgh has fallen to Philly in 6, and Boston and New York have each had to force a game 7 against Washington and Ottawa, respectively. Does anybody actually care about New Jersey and Florida? Didn't think so.

It is entirely possible that we will soon see every "top" team eliminated from the playoffs, which would leave a bizarre landscape. We already know that the Western Conference Final will be between either Nashville or Phoenix on one side, and either Los Angeles or Saint Louis on the other. Could it end up being either Ottawa or Washington on one side vs. New Jersey or Philadelphia on the other in the Eastern Conference Final? Or will one or both pre-playoff favorites (Boston and New York) survive?

Frankly, it is difficult for me to imagine Ottawa beating anybody in the playoffs. The one thing I knew for certain going in was that, should the Bruins play the Sens, the Bruins would win that series easily. To see the Rangers struggle against them boggles my mind. It certainly takes some of the edge off the Ranger's reputation.

One possibility is that the Rangers will fall and the Bruins will prevail. It would be tempting to think that the way had been cleared for a second cup with all the other "contenders" eliminated. But of course it doesn't work that way. Imagine the Bruins losing in the Cup Final to the Kings... it could happen!

On the other hand, consider a second round match-up between the Bruins and the Rangers. Now that I'd like to see!

But back to earth for a minute here. The Bruins are playing the Caps tonight in game 7. I was very impressed by the way the Caps battled in game 6. At times it looked like they were the ones facing elimination. Compared to them, the Bruins are hard to figure. The Bs effort level is inconsistent, yet it seems that inconsistency often works in their favor because they can punch it into that higher gear when they need to.

I thought the Caps sat back just a bit in the OT in game 6. All it took was one mistake and the Bruins made them pay. The fact that it was Backstrom who made that mistake does not bode well for the Bruins in game 7. He's been their best player in the series and he's going to be looking for redemption. On the other hand, a talented young player like Seguin on a roll can be an unstoppable force. Either team could win this. The biggest wild card is whether nor not the Bruins playoff magic that won them a Stanley Cup will continue.

So far we have seen Seguin step up to be the hero in game 6, Chara in game 3, and Kelly in game 1. Marchand was the Bruins best player in their game 5 loss and he needs to bring that same intensity again. His game has not consistently had the same edge since his bogus suspension. Perhaps it will be Marchand who steps up as the hero tonight. Or maybe it will be Lucic, Krejci, Rolston, or even Campbell. Can't wait to find out!

The one thing that seems certain is that Tim Thomas will be stellar in goal.

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