Other then the Memorial Cup, Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup playoffs going on. It's been pretty slow in the hockey world right now. So on this post will be briefs from all 3 roads to the the championships.
With the Conference Finals now underway, it's starting to look like that we may be on a road to a rematch for the Stanley Cup as the Red Wings and Penguins are currently both up. Especially out west, where last night was game 2 in DET between the Red Wings and the Blackhawks as the Red wings now lead the series 2-0. The Blackhawks have done a great job to comeback from behind. However, the 2nd period in both games have been problematic as in game 1 where a goal from Johan Franzen helped the Red Wings tip the game in their favor to go up 2-1 on the way to a 5-2 win.
In game 2, CHI Toews scored first at the 12:49 mark of the 1st period, but the Red Wings struck back just 4 minutes later to tie at 1-1, in the 2nd and 3rd, it was a mostly defensively affair as the Red Wings scored late in the in the 2nd while Toews scored his 2nd of the game to tie at it at 2-2, in OT Marcus Samuelsson scored just 5 minutes into the extra period to win 3-2 to go up 2 games to none as the series now heads to CHI for games 3 and 4 coming up on Friday and Sunday.
Here's some things to follow in this series
Chicago to me has a chance because the Blackhawks is one of the few teams in the league that can keep up with Red Wings in both the Puck Possession and the speed. However, they need to sure up their defense as they haven't been able to keep a lead so far in the series.
Also, Nikolai Khabibulin is a much better goalie then Chris Osgood. Khabibulin has a strong GAA with just under 3 and does a much better job with better rebound control and can make the big saves, Osgood has benefited from a high scoring offense in where he is a mediocre goalie at best and most of the goals he's given up have been pretty soft and it almost cost them against Anaheim in the Conference Semifinals. During the regular season during the time he's been with the Red Wings, he hasn't played more then 46 games in a season and even spent some time in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2005-2006 season. If the Blackhawks can slow down the pace of play and force Chris Osgood to make some big saves, the Blackhawks does have a chance despite being down 2-0.
Personally, I'm hoping the Red Wings don't win the Cup again because they just too dominant. Go Blackhawks.
Out east, it's the Penguins who drew first blood as the won 3-2 in a back and fourth game where Miroslav Satan and Evgeni Malkin scored just 90 seconds apart to give the Pens a 2-0 lead then Philippe Boucher to give them a 3-2 win.
Sidney Crosby who had a great series against Washington, had only 1 assist but had a great game defensively and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopping 23 of 25 shots including a huge part of blocked shots near the end of the game including a great shot from Jussi Jokinen where it just missed an open net that could have sent it to OT.
This series is going to depend on the goaltenders a lot as both Marc-Andre Flueury and Cam Ward are both real strong goalies with a lot of playoff experience and very durable.
Apart from the superstars, players like Philippe Boucher and Chad Larose will need to continue as hard working guys to get gritty and tough shots off while d men Sergei Gonchar will be a huge part of the D line for PIT while for the Hurricanes Joni Pitkanen will need to be huge to help Carolina.
With just one round robin game tonight between Drummondville and Rimouski, last night's win by the Spitfires put this tournament upside down. With the Spitfires waiting to see who they will play in the Tie Breaker Game and Kelowna already in the Final thanks to a 2-1 record and the best GD, they will be off until Sunday to determine who will they will play for the Memorial Cup.
Here's the Results so far in the Round Robin.
GM1: Kelowna Rockets 4 Rimouski Oceanic 1 (1-0, 2-0, 1-1)
GM2: Drummondville Voltigeurs 3 Windsor Spitfires 2 (OT) (0-0, 0-1, 2-1, 1-0)
GM3: Rimouski Oceanic 5 Windsor Spitfires 4 (0-0, 4-3, 1-1)
GM4: Drummondville Voltigeurs 4 Kelowna Rockets 6 (2-1, 1-2, 1-3)
GM5: Windsor Spitfires 2 Kelowna Rockets 1 (0-0, 1-1, 1-0)
Here's the reaming schedule, The loser will play Windsor in the Tie Breaker Game as both the 3rd and 4th place teams will be 1-2 while the winner will be 2-1 but with a less of a GD then Kelowna.
GM6: Rimouski Oceanic VS. Drummondville Voltigeurs
Tie Breaker: Drummondville/Rimouski Loser VS. Windsor Spitfires
Semifinal: Drummondville/Rimouski Winner VS. Tie Breaker Winner
Final: Kelowna Rockets VS. Semifinal Winner
The best player so far has been Jamie Benn by far, maybe the most impressive ind. performance in years took place on Monday night with a 4 goal game that he took over the game to clinch a spot in the Championship. The big question is other then who will they play in the Final is how will the long layoff affect them?
For Windsor, this has been a disappointing tournament with players like Taylor Hall and Andrei Loktionov who haven't been scoring like they did in the OHL Playoffs.
As for Drummondville, a strong tournament has a chance to get better with a win with Yannick Riendeau needing to play better as he only has 1 goal so far in the 2 games and will need to increase his scoring output if the Voltigeurs will have a chance of winning.
For Rimouski, they were wanting to perform strong at home, after getting pounded by Kelowna in the openier, the Oceanic came back strongly by beating the Spitfires 5-4 with 5 different goal scores in the game. A semifinal birth would be a very strong result for the host.
The big story on the road to the Calder Cup has been the Manitoba Moose have been just a buzzsaw in which they haven't lost a game since April 19 (Game 3 of the 1st round Series against Toronto). Since then, the Moose sweeped Grand Rapids in the Division Final and are currently up 3-0 against the Houston Aeros. For the Moose, Jason Krog is 3rd overall in playoff scoring with 14 points (5G 9A) while it's the goaltending that Cory Schneider who has an amazing 1.76 GAA and a .935 SV%.
Right now, it may not matter who's going to play them from the Eastern Final between the Providence Bruins and the Hershey Bears, they look just too strong to be taken down.
In the Eastern Conference Final, both the Bears and Bruins are tied at 1-1 apeice with game the series off untill Friday night. In game 1, Providence took a close one on the road 3-2 with Marquardt scoring midway through the 3rd period, Providence almost got a great comeback with Oskar Osala's 4th goal of the playoffs. Then in game 2, the Hershey Bears fought back with all the goals scoring the 3rd period with Andrew Joudrey and Alexandre Giroux scored just 3 minutes apart to make it a 2-1 win with goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopping 25 of 26 saves and the only goal given up was a on the PP with 30 seconds left. This series is going to be a long one as they will be a great fight for the Eastern Conference Title, but a Moose team should be waiting as they probally will have a big advantage with a solid effort and playing far fewer games in the postseason.
The Moose have a chance to close out the West tonight will game 3 of the East will be on Friday.
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