Yeah it's horrible when your team gets bounced earlier than you figured or wanted. And as a Caps fan, yes I've seen more than my share of early summers. But this season things are different. I'm not saying I'm glad my team is out, but it gives me a chance to step back and enjoy...the rest of the league. Let me tell you something, there's a lot of great hockey still left to be played. Here's my take on the series that are left:
Penguins/Canadiens (Tied 2 each)
Going to get this one out of the way...the annoying little team that bounced us against the team we all love to hate. So who to back in this one? Some say it's obvious---the Habs, but I have to admit I was torn at first. And I think all of us Caps fans got a mixture of pleasure and some "why-the-hell-couldn't-WE-have-done-that?" when the Penguins blew up the Habs for FOUR Power Play goals and chased Halak in Game One. (Were you watching and taking notes, Bruce? If you want to keep your job after next year, hopefully you did!) But you gotta love Montreal's determination and grit; they're playing Pittsburgh pretty close. I don't think too many people figure this series would go six games, but it will. And you know I'm loving Sidney Crosby breaking his stick in frustration after not getting his calls. Fun to watch, no matter who ends up winning. But if Halak stands on his head again and single-handed knocks out the Pens, I can be happy with that.
Bruins/Flyers (Bruins lead 3-0)
Now I thought this one would be much closer than it is. But if you look at it, nobody should be surprised. Flyers have pne of their key guys, Jeff Carter, out and they look like they're out of gas. Besides, when you're relying on Aaron Asham to give you second line scoring, you're screwed. Right as I'm typing this they're going into OT in Game Four--they've already blown three leads! They're putting up a good fight and it's awesome to watch, but the Bruins are playing too well to let this one get away. I just hope I'm half the man Mark Recchi is when I'm his age!
Canucks/Blackhawks (Blackhawks lead 2-1)
This is the one series I can't figure out, probably because it's so evenly matched. Roberto Luongo...I had him on my fantasy team so I know what he can do. But I can't figure out why is he so great one night and so bad on others? Sounds all too familiar. Vancouver happens to be my favorite team from out West, so I'm backing them. Hoping they'll even things up tonight. They've got too much talent not to at least make this go the distance, which I'm sure it will. But if they don't put a body on Dustin Byfuglien, it may be over before the next cheer of LOOOOOOOOOOO!
Sharks/Red Wings (Sharks lead 3-1)
Have to tell you that seeing San Jose go up 3-0 made me feel better about things. It gives me hope for future Caps playoff ventures. But that 7-1 loss last night wasn't pretty, and it was easily the least fun game of these playoffs to watch. Johan "the Mule" Franzen is wide awake and scoring again--big trouble for anybody. But not even San Jose can blow this one. Detroit could possibly steal another one, but they won't win all four. The Big Joe and little Joe show are keeping the Sharks humming for now. I'd really like to see them make the Conference Finals...could be a success story my team ends up copying.
So there you have it, but don't just take my word for it. And if you agree or disagree, either way, let your feelings be known down below. We're witness to some pretty close and exciting hockey going on here. The experts all agree that this is one of the best playoffs in a while and the TV ratings offer more evidence of that. If you're a new fan, good to have you aboard. You'll get to know why we love this thing so much as it's the best time of the hockey year. Enjoy!