Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the two teams cycle back and forth, furiously, changing places, scurrying around, the crowd is tense, but no shots are getting through- it’s the nightmare which is the Eastern Conference playoffs. That’s the way this one started, but thankfully, not the way it ended.
The first period was more of the same old between the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, but in this game two, it was take two for the Devils, who finally managed to come out on top with a 3-2 win. By all accounts, the Devils should have taken game one with two periods of stellar play, but the Rangers made a comeback in the third off little mistakes from a tired squad who threw everything in the general direction of the net. New Jersey learned from its mistakes and while it seemed that frustration was beginning to set in, Kovalchuk’s corner pocket rocket helped bring the team back to life.
It was far from a perfect game for both teams. Penalties, some of which were soft calls, and ensuing power play opportunities accounted for 3 of the 5 goals in this game. There was some nastiness and some fluky shots on goal which probably should have gone in. Both goaltenders are world class, but have their shortcomings as well. Brodeur may want to consider spending less time playing the puck and concentrating on being in his net if a bad bounce occurs; Lundqvist definitely has space issues, getting visibly upset when players come too close to the paint. It’s not difficult to get in his head or trip up his glove side.
The best players for both teams were not their big ticket names, but their nose-to-the-ground guys who take a lot of ice time and do a lot of little things right. New York’s most valuable player overall on the night is Marc Staal without a doubt; he hits, takes hits, scores and dominates minutes. New Jersey’s workhorse is David Clarkson, taking draws, battling hard for position in front of the net, hitting hard and scoring a big, important goal.
While reffing was an issue for this game, the most blatant fail on the night was the missed goaltender interference call on Ponikarovsky, as he bowled over Lundqvist late in the third. No doubt that Torts won’t be mute on the subject, nor King Henrik himself. Both will be indignant, one with more choice words than the other, and they will have a solid case for it.
The series is now tied at one and thankfully, the pace has improved. It’s hoped that two days rest won’t induce a long nap followed by a relapse. Game one was painfully dull to watch, and while this game was better, it was far from being a true post-season thriller. The dominant emotion of the Western Conference Final is one of pure will, brought on by the surprising rise of the LA Kings and their utter determination to play every shift and win. The dominant emotion of the Eastern Conference Final has been frustration, and it’s probably been the same for most of the players too.
They’re two very different stories from East to West. But there’s still time for New York and New Jersey to rewrite this one.
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.