NHL: No Series Sweeps in the Quarterfinals
Added by Jackie Daly on April 19, 2012.
In last nights NHL playoff action there were two potential series’ that could have been four and out. If the Flyers had won last night (instead of losing 10‐3), they could have moved on to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Instead, they took a beating (in the goal scoring department for a change), taking out starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and putting in their backup Sergei Bobrovsky. Clearly Bobrovsky, coming into the game after Bryz let in five goals, didn’t stop the roll of the Jordan Staal hat trick, the two goals from Evgeni Malkin, or any of the desperate offensive “all‐in” mentality that possessed the Penguins in Game 4. They each let in five goals, on 18 shots apiece.
The second series that could have ended is the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks. The Presidents’ Trophy winning Canucks faced the eighth place Kings, and found themselves in a deep three games to zero hole. With game four last night in LA, Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider knew what was at stake here. He faced 44 shots, allowing only one slip though in their 3‐1 victory at the Staples Center, earning him a star recognition with the NHL personnel. His opponent, Jonathan Quick, who has been amazing in the pipes for LA, allowed three goals through, which is the most he has let in during a single game this whole series.
A series I have really not yet touched upon is the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. Any Caps fan was most likely shaking in their boots with nervousness just judging their goaltending situation. Michal Neuvirth is out with a knee injury, and Tomas Vokoun is still suffering a groin injury. Now, that left them with Braden Holtby, 22 year old getting called up from the AHL for their starting goaltending position to face the defending champs, the Boston Bruins.
Although the Caps are down 2 games to 1, Holtby’s performance has been comparably close to Boston’s net minder Tim Thomas’s 1.47 GAA and .943 save percentage. He has a 1.77 GAA with a .942 save percentage. Game 4 is tonight, with the Caps having a chance to even up the series. They will be without all‐important Nicklas Backstrom, who is suspended for one game for his high‐cross check to Boston’s Rich Peverley in Game 3. He leads the Caps forwards in average ice time, with 23 minutes 6 seconds per game in this series.
Seeing how Pittsburgh played with their suspensions, if that is any indication of how responsive a desperate team can be, Washington should have the right mindset to come out on top and even the series.
No series was swept in this first round, showing us all that there is a deep level of competitiveness thriving through the quarterfinals.
Stay tuned to see who moves on to the semis!