It's officially going to be an underdog Eastern Conference Finals as the Montreal Canadians have elevated their status to giant killers as Montreal has knocked out both the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins as we will have a new Stanley Cup Champions.
And both of the teams that were in the Stanley Cup Finals have been knocked out as the Red Wings and Penguins have been in the Cup Finals the last two years.
Montreal went up 4-0 midway through the 2nd period as 4 different Canadiens scored as Brian Gionta, Dominic Moore, Michael Calmmalleri and Travis Moren who scored on the penalty kill as the Penguins just looked lifeless thanking that they were to waltz in to Game 7 and win pretty easily and advance to the Eastern Conference Final getting home ice advantage either against the Boston Bruins or the Philadelphia Flyers.
This game was all Montreal in way more then the scoreboard, Pittsburgh Superstars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury had horrible nights. Not even when Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal made it 4-2 in the 2nd period to turn around Game 7 and have some hope to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After Fleury gave up the 4th goal of the night, the team made a goaltender change by putting Brent Johnson at the 5 minute mark of the 2nd period. He stopped just 9 of 13 shots in the game to see his season come to an end.
Pittsburgh was finally able to get their game going as they were able out-shot the Pens. 18-3 in the 3rd period. But Montreal Goalie Jaroslav Halak made a great 18 saves to stop 38 of 39 for the game in total. To officially end the Penguins season, Brian Gionta scored exactly halfway through the period to win the game 5-2 as the Canadians will now await the winner of the Boston VS. Philadelphia Game 7 tomorrow night after the Flyers won Game 6 2-1 to force a Game 7.
Boston VS. Philadelphia was more of a physical game as the Flyers made it 2-0 to hang on in the 3rd period. As for the goaltender performance as Flyers Goalie Michael Leighton made his first career Stanley Cup Playoff Start by making 30 of 31 shots in a start to remember. After Boston won the first 3 games, it looked like the Bruins were going to make this a quick series.
However, the Flyers have comback by outscoring the Bruins 11-5 in the last 3 games. These included a 5-4 OT Win in Game 4, then keeping the Bruins to just 1 goal in the last 2 games as Flyers goalies Michael Leighton stopping 52 of 53 shots in the last 2 games to tie the series at 3.
It was a pair of unlikely sources that helped score for the Flyers in this game as Mike Richards and Danny Birere each scored on a wrist and snap shots from close in to make 2-0 Flyers late in the 2nd period.
After going up 2-0, it was Tukka Rask time as the Bruins goalie was looking to keep them in the game, and it almost worked as Milan Lucic scored in the final minute of a Fluery with the extra attacker to make it 2-1. However, after that, they couldn't muster an overtime mark to force overtime and the Flyers are looking to comeback from a 3-0 deficit.
Regardless who plays in the Eastern Conference Finals, it will be a battle of underdogs as the 8th Seeded Canadians will play either the #6 Seeded Bruins or the #7 Seeded Flyers in the Conference Finals.
As for the Western Conference Finals, the NHL is waiting for both series to get official after tomorrow's game to determine when the Conference Finals get underway either this weekend or early next week. Expect the Western Conference Finals to start up first as the Sharks have been off since May 8 when they beat the Red Wings. While Chicago ousted Vancouver on Tuesday Night.
Also if Boston wins tomorrow, we will guarantee ourselves at-least one Original 6 Team. If the Blackhawks make the Stanley Cup Final as well. It would mark the first time since 1979 when Montreal beat the NY Rangers in 5 games to win the series and the Stanley Cup. In addition to the Original 6 Hopes, The Canadians will look to become the first Canadian Team since 1993 when the Canadiens beat the NY Rangers.
Both the NHL & AHL are off tonight as the Texas Stars & Hamilton Bulldogs will play Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tomorrow night. Then tomorrow night is Game 7 of Flyers VS. Bruins with the winner hosting the Montreal Canadians in the Eastern Conference Finals.
With the Green Bay Gamblers winning the USHL Clark Cup last night, the Memorial Cup ends the Junior Season which will get underway tomorrow night as Tournament Host Brandon Wheat Kings will take on the defending Memorial Cup Champions Windsor Spitfires in the tournament opener.
It was also announced that the Brandon Wheat Kings will wear special jerseys for the tournament opener on Friday. After this game, the jerseys will be sold via an online auction which will benefit the Canadian Military.
Here's more on the Jerseys: www.mastercardmemorialcup.com/news.php?id=1475&y=2010
Last night's Games
Montreal Canadians 5 Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (2-0, 2-2, 1-0)
Montreal VS. Pittsburgh Game Story: www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2009030217
Montreal wins the Series 4-3 and will advance to play either Boston or Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Final.
Boston Bruins 1 Philadelphia Flyers 2 (0-1, 0-1, 1-0)
Boston VS. Philadelphia Game Story: www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2009030226
Series Tied 3-3, Game 7 will be on Thursday Night.
Upcoming Schedule (All Start Times are CDT)
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
5/14, Game 7: Philadelphia Flyers VS. Boston Bruins 6:00 PM
AHL Calder Cup Playoffs
5/14: Game 1: Texas Stars VS. Hamilton Bulldogs 6:30 PM
5/15: Game 2: Manchester Monarchs VS. Hershey Bears 6:00 PM
Memorial Cup Tournament
5/14: RR Game 1: Windsor Spitfires VS. Brandon Wheat Kings 7:00 PM
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