One Disgruntled Rangers Fan's Take on This Post-Season
My team is out and I have nothing better to do now than watch other teams pursue their Stanley Cup dreams. Here's a few of my takes on what's going on in the playoffs and the teams that were/are involved.
Philly - They won't beat Boston much less win a cup if they can't settle on a goalie. I can't blame Laviolette for pulling his goalies when he has but if Bobrovsky was good enough to get the start to open the postseason then why wasn't he good enough to at least back Boucher up after he was yanked? Instead, Laviolette made Leighton, who hadn't even played for a while if I recall correctly, the backup. Then Leighton got the start in a must-win game six only to get yanked in favor of Boucher again. Philly is in trouble unless Boucher gets it together.
Datsyuk - He's the best player in the NHL not named Sidney Crosby. Dude was amazing in the Phoenix series.
San Jose - The Sharks look like they're serious after jumping out to a 2-0 lead over the Wings. They are playing terrific defensively and Niemi finally decided to show up. I picked Detroit because I thought Howard was playing better than Niemi. Howard has been very good but Niemi has been just a little bit better.
Nathan Horton - Impressed with him in his first playoffs. After going pointless in games 1 and 2 against Montreal, Horton has 4 goals in his last 5 contests. In fact, Boston is 4-0 when Horton pots a goal in the playoffs. Brad Marchand is a real player too.
Pekka Rinne - The guy is legit and definitely deserved his Vezina nomination. Those of you insisting Carey Price and/or Henrik Lundqvist should have gotten the nomination instead of Rinne, you're wrong. Now if you want to make the argument one of them belonged rather than Luongo, I'm both listening and believing.
Dwayne Roloson - Why do I think he's playing as well as he did when he backstopped Edmonton to the Finals in 2006? I wouldn't discount Tampa's chances of getting to the finals.
Los Angeles - Have to give them credit, they put up a great fight minus their best forward. Three of their four losses were in OT. A big summer for Lombardi but I think I said that last year too.
Rangers - Gutsy team but still has a ways to go. I wonder how patient Slats will be. I get the sense he and Torts want to boost the skill level but at what cost? What happens if they miss out on their presumed top target, Brad Richards? Do they try to make a deal for another established guy? They also have some important RFA's to consider. Anyone find it funny Torts agreed to an extension months ago but news didn't come out until they were eliminated? Ownership stability? Check. Coaching stability? Check. Enough young talent to be a cup contender in the near future? Check. Brad Richards signing in NYC? ......................
Montreal - What to do with Gomez? A horrible regular season followed by an unproductive post-season leads to a tough decision for Gauthier this summer. Not tradable. AHL?
Washington - Yeah, I was impressed with their fortitude in their beat down of the Blue Shirts; especially after coming back from three down in the third in game four before winning in double OT. I even picked them to win against Tampa but what happens if Washington goes down 2-0? They started to fold against the Rangers in game four and the Lightning are a better team than the Rangers.
Phoenix - To Winnipeg or not to Winnipeg, that is the question.
Anaheim - They have the best top line in the game, bar none. Their D needs a little help and they need Hiller back healthy next year. Neither Ellis nor Emery would be the answer if Hiller has any more health trouble next year.
Buffalo - Sabres fans should be excited this summer. For the first time, maybe ever, Regier will have a chance to really spend some cheddar to better his club?
Pittsburgh - I hate them. I hate Sidney Crosby. I hate them because they are a great team and they are a division rival. That being said, kudos to Bylsma and the players for the job they did just making the playoffs this year after playing a large chunk of the year without Crosby and Malkin. Not many teams could make the playoffs with their two best players out. One word of advice; do something about Cooke.
Chicago - The "trimming down" of their roster last summer because of cap constraints hurt them a lot more than many of us expected. They didn't have the same type of depth they utilized the year before to overwhelm the opposition. That being said, they damn near overcame a three game deficit and beat the Canucks before going down in OT in game seven.
Vancouver - I can't believe in the Canucks and I really can't believe in Luongo. When his team needs him most he seems to struggle. They may get past Nashville because the Preds just can't match Vancover's talent but I give them virtually no shot of beating whomever wins the Detroit/San Jose series in the Conference Finals.