Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the 2012 playoffs on Wednesday night as he fired a backhand shot over Ilya Bryzgalov’s glove less than four minutes into Game 1. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ captain didn’t even wait that long to make it 1-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2, as he fired home a bombastic one-timer just 15 seconds in.
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Crosby’s lightning-fast goal ties Greg Malone (Ryan’s dad, by the way) as the fastest in team playoff history, by the way.
Naturally, the other half of the story is the natural questions that will come about Bryzgalov’s state of mind – even if it’s kind of tough to fault him for that tally. (And just as this post was about to publish, Chris Kunitz deflected a puck by Bryzgalov, making it 2-0.)
Then again, many of the Detroit Red Wings’ goals were of the variety that not many human netminders could stop, but that didn’t stop from Breezy looking awful at times in the last two playoff series. His Phoenix Coyotes teams had a tendency to fall behind – particularly in last year’s ugly sweep – but the only bit of good news is that the Flyers obviously have more firepower to make comebacks. They’re also flat-out used to coming from behind; Sam Carchidi points out that this is the ninth time the Flyers have been down 2-0 in the last 14 games.
To give you a little perspective on Crosby’s already-impressive body of work in the playoffs, try this on for size: his 32 career postseason goals ties Ron Francis for fourth all-time in Penguins franchise history.
Martin Brodeur owns the all-time shutout records, but for single-season deals, the Phoenix Coyotes are filling up the record books. Brian Boucher became the unlikely record holder for the league’s modern shutout streak at a whopping 332 minutes in 2003 while Mike Smith made the most saves (54) in any regulation shutout on Tuesday. That goose egg was just the historical exclamation point on a great three-game shutout streak that continues into Thursday, so it only makes sense that NHL.com’s Jerry Brown decided to compare the two.
Here are some of the highlights from Brown’s findings:
- Despite needing two more shutouts (and more than 100 minutes worth of scoreless time) to pass Boucher, Smith has amazingly already made more saves (157) during his streak than Boucher (147) did during his.
- To put that run in perspective – and raise Dave Tippett’s blood pressure – Smith has faced 45.3 shots per game in the last three contests, so it’s not exactly like he’s easing into those shutouts.
- That trio gives Smith eight shutouts on the season, tying a Coyotes franchise record.
- Let’s not forget that his great run is coming when Phoenix needs it the most. The Coyotes aren’t yet guaranteed a playoff spot, but if they end up in the postseason for the third straight year, it’ll be because they’re so tough to score on. Credit Tippett all you want but Smith is worthy of praise.
Speaking of praise, Tippett gushed about his goalie, even if he isn’t ecstatic about the defense in front of him.
“Smitty’s been unbelievable. Time after time, he’s made big saves for us and it’s been an incredible run,” Tippett said. “But this is three games in a row now. Right now, thinking about (winning) the division should be an afterthought. If we’re going to have any chance at all, we have to play better as a group. A lot of other guys need to jump in. We have to dig a little deeper. We’re going to have to figure out some things, like lineup changes.”
Perhaps Sean Burke deserves a portion of the credit for the Coyotes not even missing a beat – if not getting stronger – in net after Ilya Bryzgalov’s high-profile departure.
Whenever Smith’s streak ends, it’ll likely be an impressive achievement – and he might just make a little more history in the process.
The funny thing about the Los Angeles Kings overall-disappointing (playoff berth or not) regular season is that they’ve gotten the one thing that’s been missing for a huge chunk of their franchise history.
For those who are uninitiated, the Kings have had their highs and lows, but rarely have they enjoyed stellar goaltending – even in their better moments. One cannot totally separate his accomplishments from the great defense in front of him, yet Jonathan Quick might just be that franchise goalie Kings fans have always dreamed of.
That possibility was made reasonable on Wednesday night as Quick shut out the Calgary Flames to helping Los Angeles win the Sutter Bowl against the Calgary Flames 3-0, breaking the Kings’ single-season shutout record with nine and greatly improving their playoff chances in the process.
It’s simple to say that Quick has done everything for the Kings, but that’s not totally fair. One could see that the team’s tight defensive system bolsters his numbers – and perhaps inhibits the group’s offensive talent to an extent in the process – yet his stats are undeniably impressive.
His win-loss record won’t impress Vezina Trophy voters attached to old standards, but make no mistake about it: Los Angeles wouldn’t even be in the playoff chase if Quick wasn’t standing on his head.