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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Top 5 Disappointments Of The Playoffs (So Far)

I was sitting around thinking the other day about some of the biggest surprises of the first round so far and why I'm giddy as a Pens fan. I figured that would be good for a later post and started thinking about the flip side of that scenario being the biggest disappointments of the playoffs so far. After running this by Gopher and bouncing off my few ideas and with some of his own I narrowed the list down to a cool five. Here they are:

#5 - Martin Brodeur's Play Against The Rangers

Has he ever played a worse playoff series in his career? I don't think so. Go back to the two blunders he had in Game 1 on home ice. With the score tied in the third period and on the power play, Brodeur either had a massive brain lapse or was his typical cocky puck playing self. (Yes, he's one of the best puck handling goalies in the league, but he gets a little over-confident some times.)

With Ryan Callahan curling around the net, Brodeur drops the puck in his crease about a foot from the goalline thinking that the man coming around the net was his defenseman only to see Callahan hack it into the net for a backbreaking shorthanded goal.

As if it wasn't bad enough, later in the same period Brodeur overplays Scott Gomez on a 2-on-1. Gomez was practically in the 5th row of the crowd when he realized Brodeur was staring him in the face and not in the crease when he passed it out front to Sean Avery for an easy tap in goal to pad the lead.

These are just two examples of his poor play in this series. A majority of the goals he allowed in this series were pucks he should have stopped or were pucks that had no business being in the net. Did Avery's antics really get into his head that bad, or is this just the first signs of an aging goaltender in the new NHL? Time will only tell, but needless to say this was not the Brodeur we are all used to seeing at this time of year.

#4 - The Dominator Becomes The Dominated

This is pretty self explanatory, but can you really blame Mike Babcock for turning to Chris Osgood this soon? I think I saw Hasek filling out his AARP membership info during Game 6 against Nashville.

He was brutal in Games 3 and 4 in Nashville. He singlehandedly put Hockeytown into a state of panic not seen since the Sharks upset them many a moon ago. I enjoyed watching Hasek play during his career, but I hate seeing athletes hang on too long. Look at Jerry Rice, does it get much worse than seeing a Hall of Famer be cut and no one pick him up and then see him have success on "Dancing With The Stars?" I don't think so.

This needs to be Hasek's last season. Yes he put up great numbers this season, but honestly put a pylon in net and the wings still win at least 48-52 games. That team is loaded and is a well oiled machine. The Wings have a very capable goalie in Jimmy Howard waiting in the wings for his turn. He's the future of this franchise and has proven that he can play at the NHL level when he filled in for the osteoporosis-ridden Hasek earlier this season.

#3 - Carey Price Is Either On Or Can't Stop A Beachball

I hate to see someone struggle like this and for me to have to come on here and say "I told you so," but here it is. I TOLD YOU SO.

Carey Price looked great for five of the seven games against Boston. Games 5 and 6 were terrible where he gave up 10 goals in those two games and allowed Boston to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the series. Now I haven't been able to figure out if his shutout in Game 7 is anything to be overly excited about as the Bruins had absolutely nothing left in the tank for that game. Price did have some great saves in the game, but his team had already spotted him a 3 goal lead before anything he did mattered.

Flash ahead to the current series against Philadelphia. He hasn't looked solid in any of the first three games and was pulled in Game 3 after the second period. He let up three goals on 12 shots and was replaced by Jaroslav Halak who didn't allow a goal in the third period as the Habs almost forced overtime after heading into the final period down 3-0.

Who will be in net for Game 4? If I'm running the show I go with Halak. You can't waste time waiting for a kid to show up and play like we all know he's capable of playing. I've said this before. I like Price. I really do, but the inexperience of a 21-year-old kid playing in Montreal with the hopes of all of Canada on his shoulders right now to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada, is starting to show.

The backbreaking goal he allowed in Game 2 in the third period had no business being scored. On a floating puck in the air he nonchalantly put his glove out to catch it only to see it batted out of his glove and then into the net. You have to fight for that puck at all times as a goalie. Maybe he'll turn it around, but he's got to do it quick if the Habs are going to keep advancing in the playoffs.

#2 What's Up With San Jose?

I felt obliged to put this in near the top of the list since I picked them to win the Stanley Cup.

I don't quite get it. This team was the hottest of any team heading into the playoffs, but has been just good enough to advance. The one game that sticks out in my mind was when they ran Kipper from the net in Calgary with three goals in less than four minutes. Things looked great for the Sharks in that game and then it all fell apart as they went on to lose the game.

You can't blow three goal leads in the playoffs and expect to win. Ask the Rangers about how Game 1 against Pittsburgh turned out after they did the exact same thing.

Now they find themselves down 0-2 against the Stars and heading BACK TO DALLAS for the next two games. The Stars have completely dominated the first two games of this series and I wonder if San Jose is feeling some fatigue from playing a very physical seven game series against the Flames.

This team has no business losing like this. They are too deep and too good of a team to be tossed around like this.

#1 - Anaheim Ducks Made The Playoffs?

Boy I bet Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne are glad they came out of semi-retirement for this splendid Stanley Cup defense.

What a pathetic showing from the defending champs against the Stars who were one of the coldest most out of sync teams heading into the playoffs. It was almost like the Ducks expected to win and didn't put any effort into doing so.

J.S. Giguere was solid in only two games and those were the two they ended up winning.

The Stars controlled this series from the opening puck drop and the added boost of knocking off the defending champs has carried over into their series with the Sharks. I can't believe how the Ducks rolled over in this series. You can't take anything for granted in the playoffs even as the defending champs. With the way the Ducks played in the first round, I wouldn't have been surprised if the Lightning could have knocked them out. (Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch, but come on this was almost as bad as how the Senators played against the Penguins.)

The only thing I can come up with is that someone had really good tee times at Pebble Beach that making a run at defending the Stanley Cup was an afterthought.

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