Quick thoughts around the league

- The primary storyline going into these playoffs was all of the goalies with little to no postseason experience being depended on. Some have answered the bell while a few remain question marks. Based solely on those first games, Sens fans have to feel better about Ray Emery, Lightning supporters must be slightly less concerned about John Grahame, Chris Mason made Predators loyalists forget about Tomas Vokoun for a little while, Habs enthusiasts should be more comfortable with Cristobol Huet and his alleged glass slipper, and Sabres devotees should be excited about Ryan Miller. Shit, even Robert Esche, who I’m not a fan of and thought to be the wrong choice of the two Flyers ‘tenders, stood his ground and played fantastic. I’m sure, just because they lost, some Flyers fans will stay on his case, and it’s not as if his game was perfect (those juicy rebounds were still far too prevelant).

Meanwhile, Martin Gerber looked terrible in nets, giving up more than a couple bad goals, and you have to wonder at least a little if Cam Ward will get the nod. I hope not, because Gerber has had a great season and deserves the chance to bounce back, but who knows what Peter Laviolette will do. Also, even in spite of the poor defensive play of the team in front of him, Henrik Lunqvist did not look sharp. I must admit, of all the goalies who are wet behind the ears, I figured Lundqvist was the one to be least concerned about. He has a ton of big game experience in various ventures and plays like a big game goalie. It looks as if the Rangers will need him to steal games for them to remain in the series, and after game one, I’m not sure he’s up to the task.

Speaking of goalies, even in defeat, did Dwayne Roloson give Oiler nation some confidence? He was the only reason that game went to OT and from what I saw of the game looked a whole lot more comfortable than he had any other time I’ve seen him since the trade.

And finally, what happened to Marty Turco? Again, team in front of him, not so great, but still, I thought he was going to take him game to another level this postseason, hence my pick of the Stars as the eventual Cup winners. He’s struggled in the past when it mattered most but I figured he was going to turn over a new leaf and all. Sure didn’t look like to me. Meanwhile, in the other end, Jose Theodore quietly had a strong game, and made Pierre Lacroix look like not such an idiot after all.

- I love OT hockey and all that, but I’m always afraid of getting up at the wrong time and missing the goal. It’s happened more often than I’d like to admit in the past, and as a result, I end up watching a whole bunch of awful commercials I’d tune out of otherwise.

- Carolina fans, don’t panic. I know it looks bad. Your team, despite being much more talented on paper and having a far superior regular season, was essentially blown out by the Habs, but it was one game. If they lost by five goals in a game where they played well, I’d say your terror was legitimate. But the ‘Canes played like shit. They allowed Montreal to play their game, which is slow and methodical, instead of forcing the Carolina Hurricanes game, one based on aggression and speed, on them. Carolina has too many veterans to play that poorly in back-to-back games so I’m sure game two will be prettier on that end. That series just might be closer than I thought.

- And so could that Oilers-Wings series. I’m still inclined to agree with A.O. that Edmonton’s chances are good, but if they do lose, it won’t be because they weren’t trying. Despite the perceived gap in talent between the two teams, Edmonton didn’t back down a bit and hung in there.

- The other Alberta series had the snoozer of all the game ones. I know why Daryl Sutter employs those tactics, but fuck do they ever make for boring hockey. Even with the drama of an OT, I was very uninterested in the whole thing. I’d like Calgary to go far, because I like the whole red mile and all the explicit websites that come with it and because I picked them to do so in October, but if that means I have to watch that kind of hockey for the next two months, I might just take being wrong for once and order one of those college girls gone bananas DVDs to replace the drunken Flames fans who became the apple of Canada’s eye in the spring of ’04.

- The city of Winnipeg should get a royalty check from every team that bites their White Out concept. By the end of the playoffs, they'd have enough to buy the Penguins and move 'em there.

- Eric Desjardins was playing like it was 1993 last night. This is a guy who I maybe didn’t dismiss entirely but certainly thought of as past his prime. I figured he was still a useful defenceman but a shadow of his former self, the guy who was able to be the best player on the ice a lot of the time. Playoffs are great for guys rediscovering their games and he sure did, blocking shots, making smart defensive plays, and a number of great passes. He and Jani Pitkanen could end up being the most important players on the Flyers for that series, because they have the foot speed to keep up with the blazing Buffalo skaters.

- Ron McLean and Don Cherry's sadness about the Leafs lack of inclusion in this year's playoffs is so evident. They always find a way to talk about the Buds even though they're not a part of the fun. I know, I know, the CBC's "Tronna" bias is hardly news, but damn, can we move on? There are four Canadian teams in the playoffs who deserve their full attention, but that didn't stop Cherry from ranting about Tie Domi. Apparently he's surprised Leafs fans don't want him back. He can't understand why. Here's a tip Grapes: the guy sucks! He's no longer effective. It's nice he does a lot of charity work in the GTA and he should be commended for it, but if I'm a Leafs fan (*shudder*), I'd be more than okay with Domi doing that fulltime and not taking up a roster spot and cap space that could be used in other areas.

- I know a lot of Philly fans will be upset with Brian Campbell’s hit on R.J. Umburger however it looked clean in every replay I saw. One thing I will say is that none of the replays give you the true impact of that hit. It has to be seen in real time. It was both awesome and worrisome. I understand it’s estimated Umburger will miss the remainder of the playoffs, and that would be a shame, but Flyers Fan, remember this: if that exact hit had been Denis Gauthier on whoever on the Sabres, you’d be championing it as a shift in the series. Philadelphia likes their hockey rough, but sometimes it seems as if that only goes one way.

- I’m sure much will be made about the abundance of penalties, and the old fossils/Tom Benjamins of the world will whine and complain ‘till they’re blue in the face about how it’s not hockey (as if those rugby games on ice we’d been watching for 10 years were), but I had no problem with the officiating. My beef this season has been that the so-called standard can be anything but, and the calls were not consistent, but for the most part, I felt as though they did a good job. If your team was on the losing end, you might feel different and I understand that, and maybe I just feel this way because my team scored two PP goals on route to their game one win, but I liked the officiating.