Allan Maki shares his opinion on the previous night's NHL action and looks at the early news of the day Monday through Friday during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Three games into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and can we jump to the third round?
The Pittsburgh Penguins manhandled the Ottawa Senators in their Game 1. The Los Angeles Kings shutout the San Jose Sharks. And Wednesday night in Chicago, the Blackhawks spanked the Detroit Red Wings. Add up the scores and it's been the home team in a skate walk, 10-2.
Yes, it's still early, and traditionally the first round of the playoffs is a hard act to follow, what with all those surprises and anything-can-happen trajectories. It's just that one game into its Conference semi-finals and already Pittsburgh, L.A. and Chicago look to be, far and away, the superior teams. They skated better, used their depth, scored when they had to. It was if their opponents were still basking in their opening round successes while the Penguins, Kings and Blackhawks had sharpened their ambitions.
The Red Wings, coming off an upset of the Anaheim Ducks, proved to be little more than a nuisance for Chicago. After a 1-1 first period, the Hawks tore into Detroit, outshooting the Red Wings 36-14 over the last two periods and outscoring them 3-0.
Completely in control, the Hawks converted on the power play, on rebounds, from the slot. They got goals from a star player (Marian Hossa), a defenceman (Johnny Oduya) and a fourth liner (Marcus Kruger). What they didn't get - what they haven't gotten yet in the postseason - is a goal from their two top offensive threats, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Imagine what Chicago will be like once its captain and the show-stopping Kane get on a roll.
Try Stanley Cup finalists.
Detroit has enough talent and coaching to fight back and make things interesting, possibly. Ottawa has a good goalie. San Jose did a number on the Vancouver Canucks and Thursday we get a look at the Boston Bruins-New York Rangers matchup. But with the favourites establishing form in the early going, a distinct line has been drawn between the good and the very good.
The Red Wings are not going to beat the Hawks four times in six games. But if they hurry, we can get a quick start to Round 3.
Torres the untameable
Raffi Torres, state your usual defence: you didn't mean to hurt (insert opposing player's name); in your opinion, the hit wasn't even deserving of a minor penalty; it was shoulder to shoulder contact, the guy's head somehow got in the way; they started it, you were just finishing your check. Blah, blah, blah. Old-time hockey.
Torres, of the Sharks, is slated to be in New York on Thursday for yet another hearing with the NHL's department of player safety, which means he's going to be suspend, perhaps for five games or more. His hit on Jarret Stoll knocked the Kings' forward out of Game 1 and left L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter clearly angered.
Of course, if this was the first or third time Torres had rammed an opposing player and left him senseless, we'd be more understanding. Maybe we'd even buy the line about Stoll's head somehow being in the wrong place. But Torres is the repeat offender's offender. He's damaged Brent Seabrook, Jordan Eberle, Marian Hossa, etc. It's gotten to the point of ridiculousness. You have to wonder if Torres will ever mend his ways or if he's too late in his career to bother.
Given his rap sheet, the only way to deal with Torres is to keep suspending him. Harshly. You only get so many second chances in hockey and this guy has gotten a bonus share.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were vanquished by the Bruins but not without extracting their pounds of flesh.
On Wednesday, at Boston's first practice in preparation for the playoffs' second round, the Bruins were still without three keynote defencemen – Andrew Ference, who was last seen after Game 6 hobbling about on crutches, Wade Redden, no word on him, and Dennis Seidenberg, who hurt a knee early in Game 7 against Toronto and only played two shifts for a total of 37 seconds.
Boston coach Claude Julien refused to say if any of his three defencemen would dress for Thursday's opener against the Rangers. Still, even without Ference, Redden, a former Ranger, and the skillful Seidenberg, the Bruins have Zdeno Chara and a whole bunch of other guys.
Given the days off between games in this series, the extra rest should do Chara fine.
If you're a Leafs' fan, you'll want to avoid watching this. The rest of you can gawk freely.
It's a video clip of Jack Edwards, the voice of the Bruins on NESN, calling Patrice Bergeron's series-winning goal in overtime of Game 7. Edwards has been accused by some of being just a tad pro-Boston. Judge for yourself after eyeballing the video.
A small teaser: While Edwards is announcing as if someone emptied the ice bucket down his pants, notice how every hair on his head stays perfectly in place. Now that's playoff discipline.