As I said yesterday, it’s really rare to see sweeps in the NHL playoffs. All it takes for any team to get one win is a good goalie performance, or a bad one against you, or just a few pucks going in that didn’t in the first couple games, or maybe a weak call or two. It’s not like the NBA, where if a team doesn’t have an answer on defense for a certain player or matchup, their opponent is just going to keep going to it or force an adjustment and they’ll just open up something else. So the Leafs, Devils, and Avs were able to scratch last night. Meanwhile, the Ducks continue down a familiar and utterly hilarious path.
Bruins 2 – Leafs 4 (BOS leads 2-1)
While it would have been wonderful, the odds the Bruins could continue to smack the Leafs upside the head with a shovel for four straight games were always long. The Leafs had to muster their most energy and best game of the season, and they did just about that last night. While the postgame thread was mostly about how Babcock decided to match up Tomas Plekanec with Patrice Bergeron and how that line for once didn’t rip out most of the Leafs’ vital organs, in reality Bergeron kicked around Plekanec as he normally does with everyone else. They just didn’t score as much as they did in Games 1 and 2. Unless the Leafs think Bergeron taking a 66% share of attempts while Pleks was out there against them is a good thing. That line also had nine shots on goal for the Bruins combined, and if the Leafs try that again they’re going to be very, very sorry. Freddie Andersen was very good, which will be all the more deflating when he turns into a whoopi cushion again soon.
Lightning 2 – Devils 5 (TB Diddler’s lead 2-1)
They might have declared this series over if it wasn’t for Taylor Hall. It’s rather amazing the Devils got this one, because they were crushed over the first two periods to the tune of the Lightning having a 65% share in the first 40. But Schneider held strong long enough for Taylor Hall to do Taylor Hall things, the Lightning weren’t all there, and the Devils get some life. It won’t last long but hey, cheap thrills.
Predators 3 – Avalanche 5 (NSH leads 2-1)
Would have been the most enjoyable outcome of the evening if not for the Ducks. I gotta tell ya, as I’ve been saying, this Preds team is vulnerable. Yes, the first playoff game in Denver in four years was always going to lead to a lively atmosphere, and the Avs were always going to throw a heavy bag of desperation at the Preds. But they simply ran the NashVegas out of the building in the first and could afford to coast from there. BEDNAR! didn’t have MacKinnon out against Treat Boy Johansen, and instead threw him at Kyle Turris, who he inhaled anyway to the tune of a 77% share. Also two goals. Both Turris and Doughboy were -2, Turris had no shots, and Johansen only managed a goal on a 5-on-3 he couldn’t miss. You can get over this center twosome, I’m telling you. Oh, and PK Subban acted a tool, as is his way on the ice. Rinne got pulled, and in three games so far he has a .861. That’ll play for long for sure.
Ducks 1 – Sharks 6 (SJ leads 3-0)
I’m going to steal a comparison from friend of the program, Stace Of Base. And she’s free to break a glass over my head at her earliest convenience. You’ll recall after the Canucks bit it in the Final of ’11, they basically kept the same roster together, and thanks to the crap-tacular nature of the Northwest Division back then, they could continue to win that division. They would muddle through a couple regular seasons, but close hard at the end to win the thing because everyone else was too busy spinning in a circle. In 2012 they got thwacked by the Kings, and then in ’13 they got horsed by the Sharks and basically the Canucks have never been heard from again.
Well, the Ducks have two of the main cogs from that roster, so that’s going well. It feels like they peaked in ’15, when they simply handed the last two games of the conference final to the Hawks. They were beaten by Nashville the next year, and though they got to a conference final last year because their division was so bad, they were once again swatted away by the Preds who lost Johansen halfway through that series (when he was actually trying because he wasn’t paid yet). This Ducks team is finished, and you know it by the way they lash out when they’re done. Randy Carlyle knows no other way. Corey Perry is finished. Ryan Getzlaf somehow cares even less than he did and wants no part of Pavelski or Couture. Kesler can barely walk, but man can he talk.
It’s an interesting bind, because the Ducks blue line is actually good. But when it’s doing its work for a forward corps that eats its dinner at 4pm and then falls asleep, what’s the point? To fix the forwards would mean taking a piece or two off the blue line, and that would be running in place. Can’t wait to see what GMBM does here.