The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs are in the books, eight teams have been sent packing to hit the links while eight teams remain to square off in the conference semi-finals. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
The first round did not disappoint hockey fans who have come to expect physical, fast, dramatic hockey in the playoffs and year after year they are not disappointed.
One year after the Los Angeles Kings became the first eight seed ever to win the Stanley Cup both seven seeds and both six have managed to advance to the semi-finals. The Eastern Conference Semi-final match-ups pit the Pittsburgh Penguins (1) against the Ottawa Senators (7) and the Boston Bruins (4) face off with the New York Rangers (6), while the Western Conference will feature the Chicago Blackhawks (1) who will try to hold off the Detroit Redwings (7) and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings (5) will face their fellow Californians, the San Jose Sharks (6).
The storyline couldn't have been drawn up any more perfect for Flyers prospect Jason Akeson.
Playing in his home town, Akeson made his NHL debut in the final game of the 2013 season, a 2-1 win for the Flyers against the Ottawa Senators. What made the moment even more sweet for Akeson was the fact he scored his first NHL goal in that game as well.
“Just playing in an NHL game was something special; something I’ll always remember,” Akeson said. “And to score a goal, it makes it that much more special.”
Just three minutes and 46 seconds into the game, Akeson found the back of the net, scoring the game's first goal. It was just the second shift of his NHL career.
(Photo: Jake Akeson holds up his 1st NHL goal puck. Photo courtesy of the Flyers Facebook/Twitter page)
Jakub Voracek needed to give the team one last reminder why they chose him as their MVP of the 2013 season.
At the halfway point of the third period, Voracek beat Senators goalie Craig Anderson to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead and eventual win in Ottawa. It was the final game of the season in which they ended on a four-game winning streak.
The goal, combined with one last impressive effort from goalie Steve Mason, set up the victory, giving the Flyers some joy heading into a playoff-less off season.
It's over, done, final. The Flyers season concludes tonight in Ottawa where they take on a playoff-bound Senators team looking to add to their point totals and climb in the playoff seeding. The Flyers will look to force Ottawa into a bad playoff match-up and finish the season on a four-game winning streak and above .500.
The Islanders will kick off 4-game home stand tonight when they take on the Ottawa Senators for the third and final time this season. After a difficult 3-1 loss to the Sens back in February, the Isles took the most recent matchup with a pair of stellar shootout goals by the likes of Frans Nielsen and John Tavares.
So far this month, the Isles are 5-1-1, which has currently placed them 3 points out of the 8th and last playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have also improved on their dreadful home record, going 3-0-2 in their last 5 games at the Nassau Coliseum.
Later this afternoon, the New York Islanders will take on the Ottawa Senators at the Nassau Coliseum. It will be the second of three meetings between the two Eastern Conference clubs.
Coming into the game with the worst home record in the NHL at 2-8-1, the Isles are looking to turn things around today against a team that has struggled to score but manages to stay afloat due to their stellar backup goaltenders.
Not a lot of people expected the Ottawa Senators to be one of only two Canadian teams that managed to make the playoffs this season. In fact, in the "normal" NHL universe, the Canadiens and Sens would probably be in each others positions. The Sens started the season with people assuming they were at the beginning of a rebuild, with GM Bryan Murray half-blowing things up the prior off-season. But then something happened. The Sens top players started playing like... well... top players. Alfredsson was on his game as rumors of retirement grew bigger and bigger. Jason Spezza became a dominant center once again. And the...