Boston and Chicago …. it is an interesting match up for sure. More so because the east and west didn’t meet at all this season. It is, for all intents and purposes, new territory for both teams.
So far, it has been as entertaining as one might expect. I have enjoyed the games and the coverage NBC is providing. I expect this thing to go the distance, and I would not be surprised if there are more overtime games ahead of us.
Both Tuuka Rask and Corey Crawford have been amazing in net, and the play has seemed to ebb and flow for both teams as the periods passed. Also, the hitting level and “hate level” is growing, as can be expected.
It always amazes me how the playoffs often bring the “unsung” heroes to the forefront. Frequently, it is not the “big name” guys who get the job done and who rise to the occasion. No, like Collin McDonald did for the Isles, you have guys like, Daniel Paille for Boston, and Brian Bickell for Chicago, are the ones stepping up when the big goals or plays are needed. I think we can look back on every playoff run and pick out those certain guys who seem to raise their game to that extra level and take over to outshine the guys who normally put the fannies in the seats.It is no surprise that the television rating for this series have been among the highest. As I said, this has been a great match up so far, and I am looking forward to game 4 tonight.
Do I have a prediction? No. Honestly, I don’t. I am tempted to say after their miracle comeback against the Maple Leafs in round 1 when they were down 4-1 with under 5 minutes left in game 7 that the Bruins are “destined” to win at all. However, the Black Hawks won the President’s trophy and were plainly a dominant force all season.
As for some Islander news and thoughts, well, at the moment, it is fairly quiet. Still, I will toss out some “blind observations” that come to mind from the most recent week or two.
• Let me first say that my colleague, Paul, is doing a fantastic job with the draft preview. I am personally learning a lot from his profiles, and I am finding myself now paying more and more attention to the upcoming draft and the buzz surrounding it. I will be extremely curious who the Islanders end up selecting or if they trade up or down in the process. Please keep up the great work, Paul!
• Mark Streit got his four year deal. At the age of 35, well, more power to him. The Flyers need some offense on their blue line, so it isn’t surprising. However, I am always a bit doubtful when long term contracts are offered to guys reaching the twilight of their careers and there is a serious risk or gamble involved. Honestly, I wish Mark the best of luck and am grateful to him for his service to the Isles.
• I have always been a Kirill Petrov fan and am hoping he will end up wearing the orange and blue of the New York Islanders in the end (or will that be the orange and blue with a little black? ….). I think he will eventually surprise a lot of people when he finally does get to the NHL. Here is hoping that he will be here next year.
• It is sad to see David Ullstrom go to the KHL, but not unexpected. I think he still has a very bright hockey future ahead of him. The problem was he was not making the kind of consistent impact needed to assure a roster spot. With the guys who might be NHL ready around the corner, it definitely made his playing potential on the big club questionable for next season.
• Jonathan Bernier a potential Islander? This intrigues me. I think Toby first mentioned this in a post a short time ago and it seems to be a rumor that is picking up steam. Since I catch so many games during the season via the NHL GameCenter package, I caught several games Bernier started. Yes, as the boys at IPB say, we are dealing with “small sample sizes”, but at the age of 24, he may very well be ready to become a starting goaltender in the NHL.
The draft is coming and so is free agency. It could be a very interesting start to the summer for the Islanders. Then again, it could be just as quiet as well. Who knows at this point beyond Mr. Snow?
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