As round 2 of the playoffs continue to surprise us all, let’s look at the highlights and lowlights so far:
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s strategy of 1-3-1 and Guy Boucher’s helpless Hanna routine has swept the Washington Capitals and secured a spot in the third round. Coaches around the league are going to be writing up this formation and they might even consider his brilliant media strategy. While other coaches look stressed and tired at the mike, there’s Guy Boucher singing praises, all humble about his team’s efforts and basically playing patsy. He plays his role beautifully and definitely gets my nomination for best supporting actor in the NHL this season. Under his and Yzerman’s efforts, Vinny Lecavalier looks like the Captain he once was and Martin St. Louis proves that size doesn’t matter when it comes to goal scoring power. What a turnaround for this team. It will be great to see what surprises they bring to the next round and what platitudes Boucher will use.
“Us win the Cup? Surely you jest. We would be lucky to score a goal.”
If he had eyelashes, he would bat them.
San Jose is also kicking it into high gear in the second round, with an impressive Joe Thornton who is silencing critics all around. They’ve shaken off bad past post season performances and are playing like a team. Detroit, for their part, is starting to look tired and they may be over-relying on superstars like Datsyuk to carry them through this round. San Jose is playing a smart, lively game and all of their lines are getting involved. The series have brought out the best in Ryan Clowe, who’s just a monster on the ice every night and Devon Setoguchi had a breakout hat trick night that effectively crushed Detroit underfoot in a 3 game hole. The image of Thornton blowing kisses to an elated San Jose fan in LA is becoming a highlight reel classic; it may be time for fans to return the love.
The Caps continue to underwhelm in the post-season despite stellar regular season performances and a good cast of characters. So what’s wrong? It’s more of the same old for the Caps: poor defense, poor communication and Ovie who wants to do it all. He looked broken after their last game and with good reason. He never gave up during this series once and his team just didn’t come through for him. The defense has tightened up over the past few seasons and players like Semin somehow emerged in this series. Unfortunately, Backstrom disappeared from sight and the defense just collapsed. They were chasing the opposition down and the Caps got caught puck staring too often in this series. Their inability to exploit Tampa Bay’s giveaways was also their downfall. A more organized team would have been able to capitalize, but Washington just couldn’t find a way to make them pay. This was a highly disorganized team which lost its fight. Character players like Ovie, Laich and Knuble just couldn’t push it through. They needed more buy in from the rest of the team.
Cue the circus music for the Flyers as they play musical goalies. From Bobs to Boucher, from Boucher to Bobs- it has all the finesse of watching 2 people play musical chairs and doesn’t inspire confidence in anyone. Why Laviolette doesn’t just put in Leighton is beyond me. Leighton’s been in this situation before and he knows the Bruins. True, they’re not the Bruins of old, but at least he’s familiar with their game style and the pressure of playing on such a big stage. The mental toughness is gone for Boucher. Bobs may not have been properly introduced to it. Put in Leighton. You have nothing else to lose- except for the series, of course.
Boston is playing better than last season, but they shouldn’t be a dominant team over Philadelphia, which is still the stronger team on paper, even without Pronger in their lineup. Briere just chewed them up and spit them out last season- he should have been able to do the same with proper goaltending support. But for those in Philly hoping for a repeat miracle performance, don’t hold your breath if the Bobs-Boucher saga continues. At some point, the music’s going to stop and you’re going to end up with a loser.
Bisonnette on the TSN Panel or BisNasty as he will henceforth be known. He is the most hilarious addition to the panel to date. While it has been fun to have other guests on the show like Colby Armstrong, nobody has been as entertaining and cutting as Bisonnette. It’s true that they may need another seat on the panel for his ego, but he adds some serious kick to it, so I say pull up the extra chair. While the boys have never been boring, they’ve always been relatively light with each other and Bisonnette adds that slight acidic taste that this group needs. He even gives Duthie a run for his money, commenting on the boring TradeCentre and Duthie gives it right back with his comments on Phoenix. He may not be a superstar on the ice, but he’s great on this panel and they should keep him.
He’ll keep everyone on their toes, something that we’ll need as the playoffs continue and the overtimes continue to pile up.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.