Sunday night, I was sure there would be at least one first round sweep (I thought for sure the Flyers would sweep the Penguins – their defense and goaltending hadn’t really shown up for the playoffs yet). The Pens proved me wrong in a BIG way.
I thought 32 goals in 3 games was crazy, but (according to NBC Sports) 45 goals in the first four games of a playoff series is a record. Penguins fans are clearly not happy with the way most of those were scored, but at least it was a Malkin goal (yes, Malkin finally scored his first two goals of the 2012 playoffs tonight) that broke the record.
Interestingly enough, though Bobrovsky played more minutes than Bryzgalov, their stats were even other than that. They each faced 18 shots and had 5 goals against (.722). I wonder how many time’s that’s happened in the playoffs (or any game, really).
Who would have guessed that the Pens could win a game the way they played the first three games? True, they scored 5 goals in the one, but that’s hardly helpful when giving up 8 in the same game. I can’t wait to see what happens Friday night. I won’t be able to watch live, but I’ll avoid news and watch as soon as I get home. Now that Malkin’s started to score, can they pull off what only the 2004 Red Sox have done? Jordan Staal had a hat trick, too. Don’t want to forget to mention that important point, but Staal had 2 other goals in the playoffs before tonight’s game. Malkin had yet to score a goal. (Letang, Niskanen, & Sullivan also scored their goals of the playoffs tonight in Philly. Crosby scored his third of this year’s playoffs, and Dupuis scored his 2nd.)
In the other potential sweep (Los Angeles could have swept Vancouver tonight), there were a couple key changes. It’s really hard to say which was more important or might have the potential to sway the series in the Canucks’ favor.
1. Roberto Luongo hasn’t played since the Canucks left Vancouver. Cory Schneider replaced him in net for Sunday night’s game and though he lost the game, he only gave up one goal, which was a significant improvement over the first couple games. He got the only win for the Canucks in the 2012 playoffs so far and I can’t imagine him not playing when the Canucks return to Vancouver for Sunday night’s game 5.
2. Daniel Sedin came back from his concussion tonight. He was only a few seconds shy of twin bother Henrik Sedin’s time on ice and had one assist. One assist may not seem like a lot, but I think getting Daniel back had to be a huge boost to the Canucks’ morale.
I can’t believe we all have to wait until Sunday to see what happens in game 5 of this series. (If they’re still going, the Pens/Flyers will play their game 6 that day.)
The other game of the night was actually the most interesting game and is the more interesting series (unless the Penguins or Canucks end up making the first NHL comeback from the 0-3 start). The Senators won in overtime to tie their series with the Rangers at 2 games.
Home ice hasn’t been an advantage for most teams in the playoffs this year. More away teams are winning than home teams, which seems odd. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues for the rest of this round and into the second round of the playoffs.
The only two series that seemed like they weren’t going to be very interesting got a lot more interesting tonight. The NBC Sports Network may not be making all the right choices where fans have been concerned, but they (and their advertisers) have to be thrilled with the way the 2012 playoffs are going so far – especially since local stations don’t get the next round at all. (Sad for fans, but good for the channel and national sponsors.) FSN Sports opted to play two early season baseball games (Angels and Dodgers) in the LA area instead of airing playoff hockey. It’s a shame, but money talks and sadly the first week of baseball commands more money in a 164 game season than playoff hockey in the LA market.
Enjoy the playoffs!