Hockey (Last) Night In Canada: Let The Games Begin

The first night of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs had a recurring theme. If you weren’t the favourite in the series, you had a very good night. In what will go down as a prime example of parity in the new NHL, all four of the consensus underdogs in each series picked up the Game One win.

Ottawa 5 @ Pittsburgh 4 – Goaltending? What goaltending? What was supposed to be one of the areas that Pittsburgh was superior was their downfall in Game One. Several bad rebounds given up by Marc-Andre Fleury gave the Sens all the chances they needed to upset the defending Champs. Both goalies had nights that they’d like to have back. Fleury gave up five goals on 26 shots while Brian Elliott gave up four goals on 21 shots. Yes, the Pens were outshot thanks in large part to a strong physical effort by the Sens who kept Pittsburgh out of the shooting lanes.
Ottawa leads the series 1-0

Philadelphia 2 @ New Jersey 1 – A battle of a team with goaltending and defense against a team with grit that barely snuck into the playoffs. Like the rest of the night, it didn’t quite work out that way. Despite only putting 14 shots on Marty Brodeur, the Flyers were able to pull out the road win to take an early lead in their series. Pronger and Richards scored for Philly while Ilya Kovalchuk was held pointless as the big guns for both teams had polar opposite nights. The Devils did make it close late when Ian Laperriere tipped a Travis Zajac shot past his own goalie but it was too little too late.
Philadelphia leads the series 1-0

Detroit 2 @ Phoenix 3 – Granted, the Coyotes were the higher seed but very few thought that the NHL-owned team could beat the twice-defending Western Conference champs. However, as is so often the case with the Wings, Detroit ran into a hot goalie who denied what could have been a sure win. Ilya Bryzgalov, who is a legitimate contender for MVP, stopped 38 shots for the win. Most worrying for the Wings should be their special teams performances. They went 1 for 7 with the man advantage and 2 for 5 on the penalty kill. If the formerly defensively sound Wings can’t stop the Phoenix power play, that’ll mean even more pressure to beat the lights out Bryzgalov. That won’t be an easy task.
Phoenix leads the series 1-0

Colorado 2 @ San Jose 1 – The Sharks are believed to be fairly cursed once the playoffs start. I don’t think anyone could have believed that they would literally be the cause of their own demise. The playoff inexperience of the Avalanche wasn’t a factor as they outshot the Sharks and were able to keep pace with them for most of the game. They still needed a bit of luck to pick up the win. In the final minute of the game, Chris Stewart’s centring pass went off the skate of ex-Av Rob Blake and past Evgeni Nabakov for the win. The problem for San Jose was Craig Anderson pitching a shutout against the big three of Thornton, Marleau, and Heatley. If they can’t get going, this won’t go well for the Sharks.
Colorado leads the series 1-0

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Chris Kelly (Ottawa) – 1 goal, 2 assists
2. Derek Morris (Phoenix) – 1 goal, 2 assists
3. Paul Statsny (Colorado) – 2 assists

Thursday’s Schedule:
Montreal at Washington (TV: TSN, Versus)
Boston at Buffalo (TV: CBC)
Los Angeles at Vancouver (TV: CBC, Versus)

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