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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Top 5 Surprises Of Playoffs So Far

Now that it looks as if the second round of the NHL playoffs will be over by the end of the weekend, I suppose I should do the follow up to the biggest disappointments post from the other day. Also to go along with yesterday's thoughts on something else other than hockey, read on and see what I'm commenting on for today.

#5 Colorado Avalanche Round 1 Style

Yeah, this post is meant to be a look at isolated incidents in the playoffs. The Avs from round one were mighty impressive. I didn't think they had it in them to actually knock off the Wild, but they proved me wrong.

Jose Theodore was fantastic in that series and actually looked like his old self. If I remember right in my overall predictions blog I said in order for the Avs to move on to the next round it would have to be because of Theodore.

Now let's look ahead to where they are now on this second round against Detroit while I still have a couple hours where that is actually true. This series ends tonight. The Avs have been terrible in this entire series. Maybe not the whole team, just one guy in particular.

Jose Theodore.

The only reasoning we've been given for Theodore's unfathomable suckfest in this series is he supposedly has the "flu." Really? That's the best we could come up with? If he had the flu that bad, why put him in net to begin with? You have a capable guy in Peter Budaj who could have at least stopped a puck in the first two games while Theodore rested up. Get out the brooms Red Wings fans, cause this one is over tonight.

#4 Boston Bruins Push Montreal To 7 Games

I don't think even the most rabid Bruins fans thought that they were going to win this series, much less come back from 3-1 down and force a Game 7. What was even more mindblowing was the stat that kept flashing during every game that said the Bruins have NEVER beaten the Canadiens in a playoff series.

Really? Two original six teams that played each other practically every year and Boston NEVER beat them once? That's worse than the Red Sox ineptitude against the hated Yankees until they came back from 0-3 down in 2004.

This was a great series and embodied what playoff hockey is all about.

Once this series was 3-1 in favor of Montreal, I could not believe that they lost Game 5 on home ice and then proceeded to lose Game 6 back in Boston. What then happened in Game 7 was basically like watching a sick animal be put to sleep. The Bruins had absolutely nothing left in the tank. Yeah they lost 5-0, but it wasn't a 5-0 game.

They, like any other team in that situation, started taking chances and got burned while fighting to live another day. This was at best a 2-0 or 3-0 game. The Bruins have nothing to be ashamed of or disappointed by. This was a team that many didn't think would even make the playoffs and they pushed the number one seed to the brink. That's gotta count for something doesn't it?

#3 How Much Does Philly Love Briere and Biron?

For as much as I have a deep hatred of the Flyers as a Pens fan, I can't overlook the fact that this team was the worst team in the league last year and now they sit just one win away from the Eastern Conference finals.

I'm chalking almost all of this up to the play of Daniel Briere and Martin Biron. Briere currently leads the NHL in points in the playoffs. (Make the argument all you want about how some teams like the Penguins have played almost half as many games. I'll back you up.)

His leadership skills along with the resurgence of Mike Knuble have carried this team this far along with Biron in goal. Biron has been disgusting in this postseason and especially in this series with Montreal where they've been outshot 1651574145 - 30. (yes I know that's a really big exaggeration, but ask Biron how much rubber he's faced and I bet he probably throws out a number close to that.)

This team has gotten healthy at the right time of year and it's showing. Imagine how much scarier this team would be if Simon Gagne would have not suffered three concussions this season. Baring a meltdown this team is moving on to the Eastern Conference finals.

#2 Dallas Stars Break Out Of Funk

Are you kidding me? Right after the trade deadline I was hanging out with Cheech and we were discussion who we thought had the best chance to win the Stanley Cup. At the time we both agreed that the Dallas Stars were probably the most complete team after getting Brad Richards.

Then for one reason or another this team just couldn't mesh together. A couple injuries to key players like Sergei Zubov and all of a sudden this team is dropping like a rock and they end up holding out thanks to an earlier lead in points and drew the Ducks in the opening round.

Then all of a sudden everyone wakes up and collectively says "OK Let's do this thing." They go on to completely dominate the Ducks and have smoked the Sharks for the most part and have Dallas fans once again looking ahead to a Wings/Stars playoff series.

If they continue to play like they have been and Marty Turco plays like he has, this team WILL beat Detroit in the Western Conference Finals. Write it down. If you don't give me a few days once everything is official and I'll write it down on here for you.

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins Are 7-0

This is self explanatory and I refuse to even talk about it for fear of jinxing this run we're on. The only thing I will say is that they are the first team since the 1994 Rangers and we all know how that turned out.

So instead of wasting my time on writing about this which will inevitably come back and bite me in the ass, let's move onto something else shall we?

Why Sports Are Great

Before I even start commenting on this subject, Read This!

I'll give you a few minutes to get through that.

Go ahead.

I'll still be here.

(Jeopardy Theme)

OK, now that you have read that this should be real easy to comment on.

Every once in a while a sports story comes along that makes you forget about how everyone on your favorite team makes more money per game than any of us probably make in a year. Something like that story makes you remember why you fell in love with sports in the first place.

Of course sports is all about who wins and who loses, or at least that's what we're taught to believe. Sport was based on the honor of competition and respecting the field of battle no matter what it might be.

I wish I would have been at this game just so I could gather those three young women together and shake their hands. These girls deserve more recognition than what they are getting. Maybe in the coming days more people will pick up on this and everyone will feel good about themselves for a minute or two, but not get the big picture.

The big picture here is that none of those girls on the field has a big dollar contract awaiting them. This was about making someone's dream come true. This was about a moment bigger than any individual person or even the game itself. Where else would you see anyone pick up an "enemy" and carry them to safety? This was more than just sportsmanship and is one of the most overlooked storylines and this is just my way of paying tribute to three remarkable women.

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