On the first night of the playoffs, we learned that if you’re trying to squeeze a game or series to death and try and squeak out of it, it’s awfully hard to pull off if you’re playing a functional team. You can be Guy Boucher and get a sweetheart draw a couple years, but the Wild and Kings weren’t so lucky last night.
Flyers 0 – Penguins 7 (Penguins lead 1-0)
Wild 2 – Jets 3 (Jets lead 1-0)
I understand where Bruce Boudreau is coming from. The Wild do not have near the talent that the Jets do, and that’s especially true without Ryan Suter. They’ve lost some of their get-up-and-go, and certainly their best shutdown guy. So basically the only solution is to keep it tight, and hope you can eke out a win on the road if Dubnyk is up to the task. He nearly was. Still, giving up nearly 20 shots in the 3rd is going to lead to a loss almost all of the time and it’s not really what the Wild are built to do. Spurgeon and Dumba aren’t really shut down guys, not that they’re to blame. This felt like the best punch the Wild can throw, and now they’re really up against it. The Jets have gotten settled, and they have a ’09 Hawks feel to it. A little nervous in their first playoff game with expectations, found a way to come back in the 3rd, and now that they’re comfortable…
Kings 0 – Knights 1 (Knights lead 1-0)
Allow me to get soccer-y here for an analogy. The 2000 European Championships was one of the best tournaments in recent memory. Full of goals, drama, and creative attacking play (helped by England crashing out early). And during the semifinal, a dour match between Holland and Italy, BBC analyst Alan Hansen said this, “We’ve had a wonderful tournament, with more goals and flair and creativity than we possibly imagined. And then…here come the Italians…”
Well, here come the Kings.
I’ve read all year that the Kings have changed and are a little more open and that’s why they improved. My. Ass. This was vintage Sutter stuff and was enough to make you drive a screwdriver into your temple. All on the outside, all on the boards, all dump-ins and all very careful. Yes, John Stevens knows his defense is too slow to let the Knights get out in space, and maybe this is the only choice. Still, the Kings have more front-end talent with Kopitar, Carter, Toffoli, and maybe one other. You’d like to see them at least, I don’t know, try? Anyway, good for Marc-Andre Fleury.