Sunday, May 8, 2011

The long and the short of it

NHL's second playoff round may not have long to go

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is almost over, except in Nashville, where they may end as soon as Monday.

Seems as though the contenders -- especially in the Eastern Conference -- have turned out to be pretenders, as both the regular-season leaders in the East were summarily dispatched in four straight games by Tampa Bay and Boston, respectively. The Eastern Conference Finals will be between the No. 3 seed Bruins (who will have home ice advantage) and the No. 5 seed Lightning, who bounced the Pittsburgh Penguins and then the Washington Capitals in successive series.

The Washington Capitals management even sent an e-mail to their fans apologizing for their lack of success right after the four-game sweep.

The Bruins, after a grinding, seven-game series against Montreal in the first round, then went into uber-hostile Philadelphia and took two from the Flyers, then went back to TD Garden and finished off what some have dubbed, 'the new America's Team', in four straight.

In the West, the San Jose Sharks, following their six-game series win over the Anze Kopitar-less LA Kings, are one win away from throttling the Detroit Red Wings, who closed out the Phoenix Coyotes faster than the Goldwater Institute. Red Wings vs. Sharks will play tonight (Sunday) in Silicon Valley.

The other Western series, Nashville vs. Vancouver, is very surprising, considering the Predators did not know they were even IN the playoffs, until the last week of the regular season. That the Preds are playing even to the much more talented Canucks, is a testament to the system used to perfection by head coach Barry 'Uncle Fester' Trotz and his staff. Game Six in Music City will be Monday night, as the Canucks will have to travel the 2030 miles (3,270 Km for you Canadians) yet again as I write this. How many times will the Canucks be able to face comeback after comeback before they are eliminated, once and for all?

Should the Canucks survive somehow (again) whoever plays them will be facing a team which will be bloodied, beaten up, but as yet not unbowed. That will be for some other team to do. I really wonder how much Vancouver fans know their team is hated across North America. Sure, some who take a less opinionated view say that they are a great team, and that they are -- they have the talent, and the skill -- but do they have the will to win?

I haven't seen it from the men in those hideous blue uniforms yet. Nor in the end do I think we will.

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