I've been watching a lot of playoff hockey in the last few weeks and honestly, I've seen all kinds of hockey! Teams that didn't seem to want to be there, teams that were fighting the way it should be in playoffs and teams that, even if they wanted to be there, were just not up to the standard for this year's playoffs. Did we have good hockey? In my opinion, we had some exciting confrontations that kept us going for many hours, but we also had some very depressing confrontations....
First, let's go with the teams that didn't seem to want to be on the ice. It's hard to miss the Washington Capitals. Honestly, without taking anything away from the Islanders, the Caps were just not in it. We had seen their lack of interest during the round robin, but we thought they were going to become the competitive team they were at the beginning of the playoffs...but no! No coordination, messes, inability to find a way to score, a few legal bodycheck checks but nothing more (We'll avoid talking about the dirty moves that didn't have their place), etc. They played like a team that only thought about their vacations. It's not the drama of losing against the Islanders, it's the way they lost...
I'm disappointed in the Blues too...I maintain my prediction of a Canucks victory in this long series, but I didn't think it would be this way... After a disappointing round robin tournament, we thought they'd wake up. But someone forgot to tell them the playoffs had started. Binnington was simply absent and the rest of the team is not consistent. O'Reilly's had some good flashes, but he can't do it alone. To make matters worse, Tarasenko, on whom we had high hopes for the playoffs, was not yet ready to return to the game and had to leave the bubble. Fortunately, the Canucks offer good hockey and that's what saves the interest in the series.
Let's change the beat and watch the series that are giving us a lot of excitement! The confrontation between the Blue Jackets and the Lingthning... Wow! A first round worthy of the series! Not only did we have one of the longest games in history (5th overtime), we also had a goalie duel! Vasilevskiy and Korpisalo were dominant. 4 of their 5 matches ended with a single goal difference. To add to this, there was the story of Tampa Bay's revenge on Columbus who eliminated them in the last playoffs. There was a lot of intensity and quality play. One thing is certain, both teams were ready for the playoffs and had the desire to win!
Let's stay in the East for the other breathtaking series! Canadiens vs. Flyers.... Another Wow! Another intense goalie duel. Carey Price makes all the difference for Montreal and Carter Hart is more than solid for a rookie goalie with 2 shutouts. Ok, he allowed 5 goals on 2 occasions, but after the 2nd game (where he allowed 5 goals) he closed the gate for the next 2 games. And what about the intensity. Honestly, on both sides, Philadelphia and Montreal, you can feel that they are really in the playoffs and that they want to win. No matter which team will win this playoff, they will have the Momentum for the next one.
In the West, two teams that technically should not have been there offered a show that is not worthy of the playoffs. Without taking anything away from their qualifying win against the Oilers and the Predators, the Blackhawks and the Coyotes were not up to the challenge of the Golden Knights and the Avalanche. These games resulted in regular season hockey, without really feeling the acrimony and intensity of the playoffs. For fans in Vegas and Colorado, these were certainly interesting games to watch, but we can't say they were playoff games.
So now that we are "almost" in the second round of the playoffs, we will certainly have some Stanley Cup worthy matches. All the teams that will be there will go for the win. Maybe we will have the conclusion of the last two series today, but if not, it will be August 24th. I can't wait for the second round games to start and we will certainly get some real playoff hockey in all those games!
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