Two potential elimination games kicked off the Memorial Day weekend for the NHL. Would the Rangers and/or the Blackhawks fight on? Or would they pack their bags and head for home, having to wait until next year? Oh, you will find out soon enough. Like, in the next few paragraphs.
In the battle between the Bruins and the Rangers, New York struck first, as Dan Girardi scored a power-play goal. The Rangers are just piling in the power-play tallies now. They led after the first period, but in the second Torey Krug added another impressive goal to his playoff total to tie things up. Then, fourth liner Gregory Campbell put in a rebound to give the Bruins the edge. Campbell added an empty-net goal in the third, and Boston won the game 3-1.
Tuukka Rask made 28 saves, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 shots. The Bruins won the series four games to one, and they move on to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. This isn’t terribly surprising. The Bruins were the better team this season. Yes, they struggled a bit in the first round, but they found their form against the Rangers. They are a real threat to return to the Cup Final. Rask has played well, they have depth on offense and, clearly, depth on defense. They may have been the four seed, but I think the Bruins were the second best team in the East. The Conference Finals should be outstanding.
As for the Rangers, this is probably a mild disappointment. They added Rick Nash to Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards this offseason. Gaborik is now in Columbus and Richards was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. I picked them to win the Cup before the season, but things didn’t quite pan out like I expected. Granted, Marc Staal missed the vast majority of the playoffs and trade acquisition Ryane Clowe couldn’t help either, but their play on the ice was a bit lacking too. They were a good team, but going out in the second round in five games does not meet what their expectations seemed to be. The Rangers may make some changes this offseason.
Would the Blackhawks fare better in their game five? Well, for starters, they were at home, which helped. Also, they are a better team than Detroit, but that guarantees nothing. Chicago scored first, as Bryan Bickell found the back of the net. However, in the second Dan Cleary tied the game. Then, Andrew Shaw scored on the power play, and after that Jonathan Toews finally notched a goal this postseason, also with the extra man. In the third period, Shaw added another goal, and the Blackhawks cruised to the 4-1 win, just like they did in game one.
Jimmy Howard made 41 saves, while Corey Crawford stopped 25 shots. Duncan Keith had two assists. This is more like the Blackhawks team we expected. They dominated this game. They were clearly the better team, but, of course, they are still down three games to two in this series. They need to win two games in a row to move on. Granted, if they play like they did in game five, they should be fine, but that’s hasn’t been the case most of this series, particularly in Detroit.
There is only one game Sunday, which is for the best because we’re all going to be watching Arrested Development anyway. At 8:00 Eastern on NBC Sports, the Sharks host the Kings. San Jose must win to fight on. They are at home, and they won both games three and four at home. The home team has won every game in this series. Will that continue? It certainly seems plausible, as both goalies have been strong in this series, although Jonathan Quick has been a bit better. It’s a tossup, but I give the slightest edge to the Sharks.
Don’t make a huge mistake. Don’t be a chicken. Gene Parmesan! Watch the hockey.