2013 NHL PLAYOFF FRENZY

April, 2010…The Philadelphia Flyers were playing the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in Round 2. Boston had the edge at the start of the series. In fact, Boston had home ice advantage and was looking for it’s first Stanley Cup in over 20 years. The Flyers were also trying to erase the demons of years past and winning their first Cup since back to back Cups in 1974-1975.

The stage was set on January 1st, 2010 as the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 at the Outdoor Winter Classic. It was an exciting game and the first of its kind. Fast Forward to April 2010. The Bruins, like the Flyers made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, winning in overtime. The Bruins dispatched of the Buffalo Sabers with relative ease, taking the series 4-2. This set up a second round matchup in which the Bruins were better suited to win.

The stage was set. May, 2010. The Boston Bruins went ahead 3-0 in the series and the series was thought to be all but over. However, then an incredible rarity occurred. The Bruins went to the locker room for overtime, with a chance to sweep the Flyers. However, Simon Gagne destroyed their champagne party by scoring his first goal of the playoffs in his first game since coming back from an injury. The Flyers took the next two games easily which forced a Game 7 and the chance to make history. The Flyers were trying to become only the 3rd Team in Professional Sports to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0.

Well, Boston had everything going for them. They had Home Ice. They had the better goalie, the Flyers were starting Backup Michael Leighton, who was relatively unknown at this point. And then it happened. The Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 First Period Lead and everyone in the Sports world had thought they had dodged a bullet. Not so. The Flyers chipped away and were able to tie the Game at 3 with less than 9 minutes to play. At the six minute mark, Simon Gagne once again capitalized on a neutral zone turnover and buried the game winning goal. The Bruins had collapsed. It was a colossal
Collapse. The Flyers went on to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Well, 2011 brought redemption as the Bruins swept the Flyers in the Divisional Round and went on to Win the Stanley Cup Championship behind the stellar goaltending of Tim Thomas. Fast Forward to 2013. The Bruins made the playoffs after playing horrible the first month of the season. The Bruins were the Fourth Seed and would face the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs, who were playing in the playoffs for the first time in awhile. Well, Boston jumped out to a 1-0 and 3-1 lead in the series. Don’t look now, the Maple Leafs won the next two games to miraculously tie the series at 3. Even more astounding, was the fact that in game 7, Toronto went up 4-1 with less than 9 minutes to play. BANG! The Bruins scored 3 goals to tie and then scored the overtime winner to stave off another tremendous collapse.

Elsewhere, the 2013 Playoffs have been fun filled and not without drama. We had the huge brawl in Ottawa between the Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Game 3 saw 210 Penalty Minutes in the Third Period alone and 14 Fighting Majors. Wow…insane. Ottawa ultimately won the series knocking out yet another Canadian Heavyweight. In the other two Eastern Series, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the surprise New York Islanders 4-2 and the New York Rangers beat a feisty Washington Capitals team 4-3 en route to a date with Boston in the second round.

Over in the Western Conference, there has been more consistent play and more domination by one team across the board. The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3, the San Jose Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Saint Louis Blues 4-2.

This playoff year has been extremely exciting to watch, especially with all of the rivalries. Not to mention…Four of the Original Six Teams have made the Semi-Finals…Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Boston. Boston went up 1-0 in the series with the Rangers with a game one win. Pittsburgh is up 2-0 in their series with the Senators going to Ottawa. The LA Kings are up 2-0 against the upstart Sharks and the Red Wings and Blackhawks are tied at one game a piece.

It has been an absolute frenzy thus far. So many analysts had picked the Flyers to win it all in the beginning if the year. Instead, it’s the Bruins who are playing like the unsung hero once again. They say KARMA can be a bitch. Well, Boston has shared it’s set of tragedies this past season and also sports collapses, but it looks like they may just be the Whitehorse in these 2013 NHL Playoffs. If you are not watching, you are definitely missing out. Tune in tonight…it’s getting interesting!

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NHL: NO HOCKEY LOYALTY

Well, this strike is similar to how the 1994-1995 Strike went down. I can remember it like it was yesterday. The New York Rangers were coming off a Stanley Cup Championship Title in 1994, as Mark Messier carried the Rangers to their first title in over 40 years. Then it happened, a long term work stoppage. This seasons strike actually mirrors that one in that it lasted over a half season. When the league finally came to an agreement with the players, they settled on a 48 game season. This season will be the same type of schedule. Well the 94 strike saw Eric Lindros get voted as the MVP in a 48 game season where the Philadelphia Flyers made it to the Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, the Devils went on to beat the Flyers and win their first Stanley Cup. Well, who knows at this point what team will be the favorite. However, One thing is for sure. The fans will return, but I would suggest that they refrain from spending top rate to go to these games. Let us face it, the League owes the Fans. This has been one of the most frustrating sports strikes in history as there was not a huge gap between what the league wanted as far as the players. Nonetheless, here we are already into January, and now there will be a two week period and then a 48 game season. We will talk later how this short season could benefit a team like the Flyers. Stay Tuned.

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