Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap, Video Highlights and Predictions - Apr 18th

Atlanta Flames head coach Bob Hartley ruined my predictions last night. Despite giving up 3 first period goals and 2 second period goals Hartley stuck with Kari Lehtonen all through the 7-0 pounding that the Rangers put on the Thrashers last night.

Tonights Games:

New Jersey Devils (1) at Tampa Bay Lightning (2) : If anything I would call this a classic playoff series. The two teams split the games on New Jersey's home ice and I expect them to do the same in Tampa tonight. Look for Brodeur to be sharp as the Devil's even the series up 2-2 to head home for game 5.

Atlanta Thrashers (0) at New York Rangers (3) : Here is the first sweep of the 2007 NHL Playoffs. The Thrashers have been absolutely horrible in the playoffs and they still have gotten only 1 point out of there top 3 scorers. Atlanta coach Bob Hartley will be starting Johan Hedberg in net tonight as the Thrashers try to stave off elimination.

Buffalo Sabres (2) at New York Islanders (1) : The Sabres dominated on the ice in game 3 and look to continue there momentum into game 4 tonight. Briere and Vanek will have another good game as Buffalo take a 3-1 series lead with the chance to close out the series on Friday night at home.

Nashville Predators (1) at San Jose Sharks (2) : The Sharks brought there game to a new level in game 3 and completely owned the Predators. I doubt the Preds are going to like that much. Nashville will get rookie Alexander Radulov back tonight after he served a one game suspension for hitting Steve Bernier from behind. I look for his return to spark the veterans in the Nashville dressing room as the Predators win their first playoff road game in 7 tries.

Recaps Day 8:

Atlanta Thrashers 0 (0) at New York Rangers 7 (3) :
(click image to watch)
This series is all but over now. I'm not sure what was more confusing last night? Bob Hartley's refusal to pull Kari Lehtonen even after 5 goals in the first two periods... Or the image of Ilya Kovalchuk dropping the gloves with super pest Sean Avery. I'm not sure what surprised me more, the fact that Kovalchuk was actually in a hockey fight, or that Kovalchuk was actually at the game. The fight was one of the few times I noticed him on the ice last night.

Ottawa Senators 2 (3) at Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (1) :
(click image to watch)

Pittsburgh played a committed game last night in an attempt to even up the series but the Senators squeaked one out partly due to a fluky goal by Jason Spezza 3.5 minutes into the first period. The second surprise of the night was a game winning goal by Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchnekov who scored only once in 78 regular season games this season. Ottawa managed to smother Sidney Crosby and have effectively quieted Evgeni Malkin all series long. So much for my 7 game series prediction, Ottawa will close this one out on Thursday at home.

Vancouver Canucks 2 (3) at Dallas Stars 1 (1) :
(click image to watch)

The Dallas Stars played a committed game last night and pushed the Canucks deep into the third period in a scoreless tie. Unfortunately for the Stars it was Vancouver who came out on top. A game saving goal line save by Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell preserved the win for Vancouver. Dallas is on the verge of being eliminated in the first round after 5 games for the third straight time, a problem that goes back to their inability to win on home ice. They have now lost 6 straight at home in the playoffs.

Anaheim Ducks 1 (3) at Minnesota Wild 4 (1) :
(click image to watch)

The Minnesota Wild were determined not to be swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round this year. A complete team effort resulted in a convincing win on home ice for the Wild to stave off elimination. Jacques Lemaire combined the Wild's top 3 scorers on one line in an effort to produce the offense that had been lacking in the series first three games. It worked, as the trio combined for 2 goals and 5 total points in the do or die win.

Detroit Red Wings 2 (2) at Calgary Flames 3 (1) :
(click image to watch)

The Calgary Flames are a completely different team at home than they are on the road. The seven mile stares that we saw on Calgary's bench in game 1 and 2 were gone in game 3 and replaced with an intensity that was apparent in the outcome. Jarome Iginla scored the game winning goal in the third period as Calgary simply outworked Detroit. It will be interesting to see which Calgary Flames team shows up on Thursday night for game 4 of the series.

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