Found out a lot about a lot this weekend. Let’s get to it:
Winnipeg Leads Nashville 3-2
This series has basically been delicious. It confirms everything we thought about the Preds, in that they were more Pekka Rinne than they or any of their sycophants who just want to drink on Broadway again in the spring for free wanted to consider. The Preds got back into the series by trapping and basically playing 90’s Knicks basketball, and they still needed a miracle save from Rinne to make that work. Back at home and in front of a crowd too busy trying to memorize all their chants that are just variants of the word “suck,” they didn’t feel they could do that. They tried to go toe-to-toe with the Jets, and they got stomped. Sure, the shots and attempts charts will tell you this was a more even game. But an even game with the Jets isn’t an even game. They have more firepower than just about anyone in the league at forward. So if you’re getting the same amount and type of chances they are, most likely they’re going to bury more of them.
And Kyle Connor turning Treat Boy into bucket-and-mop material didn’t do my heart any worse either.
So now Laviolette has a choice. He can try and trap and stall his way back home to a Game 7, a method that works but has a very low margin for error. One bad deflection undoes all the work. And if it doesn’t work he’s going to face some tough questions about why he was fucking with his lineup all playoffs long to get guys like Scott Fucking Hartnell in the lineup but not Calle Jarnkrok or Kevin Fiala. It’s especially hilarious because next year is almost assuredly the time on Lavvy’s clock when his players start to regard him as a bellowing meat sack and tune him out. It’s happened everywhere he’s been, and it’s a miracle he’s lasted in Music City this long. A lot rides on tonight.
Knights defeat Sharks 4-2
I had suspected that the Sharks weren’t all that good, but hoped for better. Then again, I don’t know what you do when a goalie is throwing a .965 at you at evens, which is what Marc-Andre Fleury is doing. And that’s really what it comes down to. It’s not that the Knights aren’t deserving winners of this series. But if Fleury were playing at a mere mortal level, even with like a superb .930 or something, this series is headed back to the desert for a Game 7 or it’s already over the other way.
The Sharks will have some decisions to make this summer, as every key player they have is over 30 with the exception of Martin Jones. They’re considered the leaders to get Tavares, which would certainly change the complexion of the next couple of years whether Thornton stays or retires or goes because of it. If they don’t get Tavares though, you wonder how much longer they can keep coming up with decent seasons and playoff runs. Especially if Calgary and Edmonton were ever to get their act together (don’t need to worry about the latter, thought).
As for the Knights, my suspicion, based on anything normal, is that this all comes to an end against whoever’s next. They can’t outrun the Jets for sure, and though the Preds’ might isn’t what most think they can match Vegas’s forwards and have a fleet defense that won’t be overawed by Vegas’s forecheck. They also wouldn’t insist on playing Paul Martin for a portion of it because they’ve been hit with a brick when they weren’t looking. But that assumes a normal goalie performance, and Fleury is doing anything but that. To bet against him is a fool’s errand.
Also, with Rinne and Fleury having career renaissances at 33 and 34 as they have, that gives you faith that should Corey Crawford ever be healthy he can maintain the level he was setting too.
Capitals lead Pittsburgh 3-2
Oh, Caps. Won’t you ever learn? Don’t you see where this is taking you? Haven’t you walked this road again and again? We know this road. We know exactly where it ends.
As sick as I am of Caps fans everywhere nailing themselves to a cross every four minutes, it’s about time Alex Ovechkin broke through. Sure, they’ll get railroaded by the Lightning in the next round, who are now going to be rested and having played just 10 games to get this far. But do you trust them? Do you trust Holtby to play well enough to keep the Penguins down for two games? Do you trust the Caps to get goals from anywhere else besides their top line? Do you trust Tom Wilson not to completely fuck up Game 7 when he comes back?
It could happen. These things always seems to reverse at some point. Even the Canucks got to a Final once. The Penguins just might be out of gas. Their defense might just be too creaky and the Caps might have sensed they can get behind it whenever they want. Maybe Sid doesn’t have any magic jewels left in his bag.
But which way would you wager?
Lightning Beat Bruins 4-1
We’ll save most of our thoughts for the eulogy, but the Bruins might have been the biggest mirage we’ve seen in a long time. They were one line and a goalie playing well, and because that one line was so other worldly it masked all their other problems. But when that one line couldn’t go for three a night, they got utterly stomped.
The hockey season is long enough that there’s plenty of time to outthink yourself. The Bolts were the best team before the season started, and there really was never a reason to think they were otherwise other than boredom and injuries. They have four lines and three pairings, though someone is going to expose Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman. It won’t be the Caps or Penguins though, at least not the Caps. We should be all in for a Lightning-Jets Final, not only because it would piss NBC off to no end and you’d get many hockey writer tears about not being able to go to Nashville or Vegas on the company dime, but because it would be a Final packing more firepower than any since at least 2013, probably 2010, and maybe even longer than that.