Saturday night provided two excellent games for everyone's viewing pleasure. They may have set the stage for an early end to both series.
The Washington-Pittsburgh game was as competitive as any in the series so far. As I had hoped for yesterday, the game did go to overtime to bridge the time gap between games. The game was played fairly evenly for a couple of periods and then the Pens seemed to take control in spite of allowing the Caps to tie at the end of the third period.
It was disappointing that the game ended on a odd play, on a power play, when the puck was redirected by a sliding Cap who was trying to block a pass. Jackson claimed that the winner of each of the game fives would win the series. I'm hopeful that the Caps will rebound on Monday so we cane have a game seven in this fantastic series. We don't want to be shortchanged by having a winner in six.
The late game between Chicago and Vancouver was also competitive to the end. The lead exchanged hands a couple of times before Chicago went ahead for good with five minutes left in the game. Dustin Byfuglien was the surprise offensive star of the game with two goals. Vancouver has already won in Chicago but will definitely have their backs against the wall Monday night to avoid elimination.
Down 3-1, Boston will be fighting for their lives to avoid elimination at home tonight as they try to save face against Carolina. I do expect a better showing than we have seen, but I don't think they can win three straight.
Today, in the early game, it is down to a three game series as Anaheim heads back to Detroit. I think we saw the real Detroit team in game four and expect more of the same today.
In Predator News...
The Milwaukee Admirals avoided elimination by beating Houston 4-3 in game five of the series on Saturday. Brian Smolinski led the scoring with 2 goals and an assist while Andreas Thuresson and Kelsey Wilson each added a goal. They play game six in Milwaukee on Monday night.
The final games of the World Championships are today as Canada plays Russia for gold and the US plays Sweden for the bronze. It has been fun watching so many Predators play on the world stage. The Preds should have a few players in the Olympics next year in Vancouver. Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, and Ryan Suter are near certainties to play for their teams (as is Alexander Radulov if he is still a Pred).
TSN's Scott Cullen has a good look at what the Preds need to do in the offseason.
Interesting story out of Canada on Sebastion Geoffrion brother of Blake Geoffrion who is a Preds prospect who has decided to play his senior year at Wisconsin. If Blake makes the Preds, he will be the first Tennessean in the NHL. His brother is working hard to follow the same path.
Section303 has a new post on new rules going in place by the IIHF in regards to the transfer agreement. I wonder if the old rules were not enforced, will the new ones be any different.
Around the NHL..
Ryan at the RLD has a great analysis of looking back at the trade deadline deals and who made out the best. This is good stuff.
Jim Balsillie is all in favor of tight deadlines in the Phoenix court case per an interview with HNIC. I guess he wants to know quickly whether to stay in the Coyote purchase or move on to vulture activities elsewhere. He needs to stay distracted long enough not to be involved in Boots' 26% of the Predator action.
Mirtle has a good analysis on Southern Ontario's desire for a team and why it makes sense.
As I discussed last night the big issue isn't "Make it Seven" or "Keep it Six". The focus should be "Make it 32". There is enough talent to add two teams, one near Toronto and one elsewhere. This is one of the longer periods, in the recent past, where the league has not expanded. A duel focus on expansion and rehabilitation will grow the NHL brand more than merely moving existing teams around.
For a brief period on Saturday it was thought that @jimbalsillie was the real deal and was "confirmed" by an Eklund contact. The rumor soon fell apart and Puck Daddy writes of the final nail in the coffin for "balsillie".
River City SportsBlog is a prime example of a Canadian writer drinking the kool-aid and that any team in the southern US doesn't deserve to have a team. He hates Bettman too. Imagine that.
Here's one for dani3boyz who has spent the weekend at multiple sporting events for her boys. Tweetups are still in full force including the one between periods at the Bar-B-Q stand inside Verizon Center at the Caps-Pens game. The following picture shows everyone including @Love_the_Game having a good time before the Caps lost in OT. (photo courtesy of @umassdilo)
That's all for now...
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass