Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Return of CuJuongo

Game 3 proves a few things. Kings fans were dying for eight non-playoff seasons because that crowd was the possible difference in the game. You can talk about the Canucks taking deserved penalties (or that that was no kicking motion on the goal disallowed) but don't tell me the refs were not influenced by the crowd. Hey, it's called home-ice advantage for a number of reasons.

Roberto Luongo is proving the curse of the gold medal winning Olympic goalie is not going to change. Make up any excuse you want for his mediocre play and I'm with you on that. The main problem I see is where Florida had him in his prime, the Canucks now are stuck with him CuJo-like where he'll be just good enough to tempt us but not enough to lift Lord Stanley's mug . . . and I'm talking 2011 and onwards. The Canucks may come back and take the Kings down but they aren't going to the Final based on the play of other goalies' (hello, Craig Anderson!) play in the 2010 playoff mix.

Which brings me to the current hot topic: Short overtimes and how great the playoffs have been.
The Hockey News has the story here and is all a twitter about this "great" start to the playoffs.
Were they watching tapes of the 1986 playoffs? The 1994 playoffs? Last year's Caps vs. Pens series? Because we are barely 3 games into the 2010 playoffs, and I've seen more snooze inducing games than jump out of you seat end-to-end stuff so far.

Through game 3s, I can only find two series really worth watching:
Caps vs. Habs
Mainly because the Jaroslavs (Halak in net and Spacek pokechecking Ovechkin into submission) stole Game 1 and Tomas Plekanec mouthed off about Jose Theodore (and he's been proven right given Semyon Varlamov for the second straight playoffs has come off the bench and is now the Caps #1) scored the OT winner.
Game 2 saw an unreal comeback thanks to the Caps' Nicklas Backstrom.
Then Alexander Ovechkin opened his mouth and shot back about Halak being nervous and the Caps proceeded to destroy the Habs 5-1 in Game 3 running Halak from the net.
So we've got both teams' #1 goalies being pulled in games, two overtimes, a superstar being shut down by a couple of Jaroslavs, a Backstrom proving that a sidekick can be a difference maker plus electric crowds in both arenas. That and the yin-yang of an offensive powerhouse playing a defensive team (albeit one with a small group of pretty good snipers).

Pens vs. Sens
This series has been fun because Ottawa stole Game 1 thanks to some wonky bounces. Then Sydney Crosby took over and has made some plays that'll remind us of how good the guy really is. I wouldn't rank it as nearly as fun to watch as the Caps vs. Habs sries as it's the Blandawa Senators but for Crosby and Malkin, tune in. Just flip to the Punjabi channel when it's broadcasting to avoid Bob Cole.

The rest of the series have been middling to dull. The Canucks vs. Kings series is not good hockey bar bits of Game 1 and its OT. The Sharks vs. Avs is a mismatch and the Avs are only leading thanks to goalie Craig Anderson. The Yotes vs. Wings has shown promise but as they're still the Yotes. (When Shane Doan is your most recognizable star, frankly, who cares?) Blackhawks vs. Preds--the big story is Patrick Kane's mullet and a funny bounced goal by JP Dumont that was spun into some goalie crisis that's non-existent as Patrick Niemi shut out the Preds the very next game.

In the East you can forget the Sabres vs. Bruins unless you like watching after-whistle scrums. The Devils vs. Flyers series has seen one team win a game (Flyers in Game 1) despite having only 14 shots on goal. The Devils show up for the first road game of the series and manage all of 19 shots in 63:35 of play. At least Mike Richards is playing well with 6 pts in 3 GP because that's about all there is to watch in this series so far.

So, yeah, OTs have been quick as thank the hockey gods as who wants to sit through more periods of nothingness in most series so far. Maybe the OTs have been quick not only because teams are going for it early and penalties are being called in OT but the goaltending in general has been inconsistent across all series (bar you, Mr. 51 Saves Anderson).

My advice to Canuck fans, save yourself some heartache. Stick to watching the Caps or Pens. Tune back into the Canucks if the series gets to a Game 6 or 7. Until then they'll just take more stupid penalties, give up more powerplay goals which throws the whole flow out of the line shifts. That more than anything has rendered the Sedins pretty much non-factors. It's not just the powerplay goals against, folks, that have done in the Canucks. The more the game is played 5-on-5 the better the Canucks chances period of swinging the momentum of the series. Flat out, the Kings cannot win this series at 5-on-5 no matter how great Drew Doughty is.

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