From Apr. 1-10, ProHockeyTalk will be counting down the Top 10 moments from the 2011 postseason.
Here’s No. 5 — San Jose avoiding an epic collapse to beat Detroit in Game 7, advancing to its second-straight Western Conference final.
After the Vancouver Canucks nearly blew a 3-0 series lead in their opening round matchup with Chicago, most figured it would be a cautionary tale — that the next team to build a seemingly insurmountable lead would learn from Vancouver, and not let the opponent hang around.
The San Jose Sharks didn’t get the memo.
After racing out to a three games to none lead on Detroit in Round 2, the Sharks proceeded to drop three in a row — 4-3, 4-3 and 3-1 — setting up a dramatic Game 7 at HP Pavilion.
“For him to end up with the winning goal was pretty special for our team and for him,” coach Todd McLellan said. “I think the monkey may be off his back for the next series. … He was a difference maker tonight.”
All right so there’s probably not going to be any Sidney Crosby and there definitely won’t be Evgeni Malkin, but the Penguins have Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury still and they did nearly win the Atlantic Division. They’ll be matched up against the phenomenal Steve Stamkos, diminutive star Martin St. Louis, and the venerable Vincent Lecavalier in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With Fleury matching up against Dwayne Roloson for Tampa Bay and the Lightning bringing the bulk of the star power in this series, we’re left wondering just who you’ve got in this series. Here’s how we’re looking at things.
The Penguins have been impressive and resilient this season, but I just don’t know if they can grind out four wins against the Lightning. Only the Vancouver Canucks scored more power play goals than the Lightning in 2010-11 while Pittsburgh is all the way in 19th place. My guess is that the Bolts will get some crucial “easy” goals on the man advantage and will use their superior scoring depth against the star-starved Penguins.
Is Marc-Andre Fleury so superior to Dwayne Roloson that Pittsburgh can overcome those disparities? I’ll guess that the answer is “No.”
It’s the Lightning in 6, while Martin St. Louis stands up and asks, “So why exactly don’t I get Hart Trophy attention? Are voters Heightists or something?”
In one corner we have a team that has been through the battles—on the other, we have a team that has two players who have won a cup and a line-up full of youngsters. I’m a big believer in the idea that a team has to learn how to play in the playoffs and this looks like it could be a learning experience for a lot of the guys in Tampa Bay. The Penguins went to the Cup Finals two seasons in a row until last season—when a weak defensive corps couldn’t hang when the games got tougher in the playoffs. Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek should fix that; the Pens will be able to sneak by on the strength of their defensive game this time.
The Lightning will learn lessons for next year, but Penguins in 5.
Tampa has the dangerous offense and the streaky goalie. Pittsburgh has the stingy, rugged defense and the playoff-tested lights out goalie. I like a lot of what Tampa Bay has but I don’t know that they can hang with the Penguins in what should be a knockdown, drag-out series. Penguins in 7.
What say you faithful PHT readers? Think we’re playing favorites with the Pens or downplaying the Lightning? Vote in our poll and let us know.
Sideshow Bobrovsky: Flyers goalie shows off new Simpsons-inspired mask for playoffs
While most players are busy growing out the playoff beard for the postseason (unless you’re Patrick Kane, then it’s time for the mullet) Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is new to the whole NHL playoffs thing. While the rookie goalie had a huge year in leading Philadelphia to the Atlantic Division title and the two seed in the Eastern Conference, finding a new way to show off for the playoffs can be difficult.
For a goalie, changing up the mask can be a sign of trying to change your luck or mixing up your superstitions, but Bobrovsky is going in another direction for inspiration. He’s going with Sideshow Bob. The tormentor of Bart Simpson adorns one side of Bobrovsky’s new lid just in time for the playoffs and as CSN Philly’s Sarah Baicker showed us on Twitter, it’s truly a glorious sight to behold.
Bobrovsky’s new mask also shows off Philadelphia folk hero Rocky Balboa on the other side adorned in the US flag, arms raised like the champion he was (belt or no belt) in six five movies. (Rocky V never happened, you hear me?!)
Going with Rocky on the helmet is obviously a nod to Philadelphia in itself but we’re just a little disappointed that the Russian netminder didn’t sneak in some love for Ivan Drago in Rocky IV just for fun. After all, this is the guy who had a fighter jet on his mask during the regular season, so why not just go all out with the sweaty, menacing mug of Dolph Lungdren as well?
As it stands, the only thing getting in the way of Bobrovsky now is either Apollo Creed or many carefully placed rakes. We’re thinking he doesn’t have to worry about any of those finding their way on the ice. Fortunately for Bobrovsky, there’s no one named Bartholomew on the Sabres to pester him in the first round of the playoffs.