It's the best time of year!
Posted by Ryan Porth Labels: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
When the seeds were settled last weekend and the matchups were finalized, there was one common theme I thought of when it came to these playoffs: redemption.
Which four teams are people picking the most to get to the Stanley Cup Final? Vancouver and San Jose out of the West; Washington and Boston out of the East. All four, mired by postseason disappointment in each of the last two years, are trying to break through and go deep.
Vancouver began their series against nemesis Chicago on the right foot last night with a 2-0 win. Although the Canucks did win Game 1 in each of their series against the ‘Hawks in 2009 and 2010, there’s a different feeling to this one.
The depth that Chicago had to trade away last summer all made an impact against the Canucks. Dustin Byfuglien was Roberto Luongo’s worst nightmare. Andrew Ladd got under Ryan Kesler’s skin. Adam Burish and Ben Eager baited Vancouver into taking dumb penalties. None of them are in Chicago anymore.
Luongo came up big with the 32-save shutout, and you know the ‘Hawks won’t be able to keep the Sedins off the score-sheet for much longer.
In Washington last night, for 55 minutes it looked like the classic ‘here we go again’ as they could not solve Henrik Lundqvist. But goals from Alex Ovechkin (game-tying) and Alexander Semin (game-winning) led the Caps to a 2-1 overtime win. If Game 1 was any indication, it’s not going to be an easy series for the Caps; the comeback win is a good sign, though.
Boston and San Jose get their respective series under way tonight against rivals. Boston will be facing the Habs for the 33rd time in the playoffs; the Sharks and Kings will meet for the first time at this time of year.
The Bruins and Capitals have lost Game 7 on home-ice in the last two years, while San Jose has never reached the Stanley Cup Final despite great regular season performances.
And let’s not forget about the Nashville Predators, who are still seeking their first trip to round two. They frustrated Anaheim’s big guns to no end last night in a convincing 4-1 win, while getting great contributions from Mike Fisher and Pekka Rinne. It’s just one game, but they definitely looked like a determined team, claiming their second road playoff win ever.
Can Vancouver get past their mental roadblock by facing Chicago? Will the Caps finally live up to expectations? Can Boston rid the demons from last year’s collapse? Does San Jose have a long playoff run in them?
Four heavy favorites (plus Nashville) are still looking to prove to the hockey world that they can win in the playoffs. Could this be a postseason of redemption for these teams?
Photo credit: Getty Images
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