May 6, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT
We’re a bit overdue for this today, but we hope you’ll indulge us at lunchtime with our Five Thoughts.
1. The arrival of Ryan Kesler to the party during the Canucks’ series with Nashville has been just what they needed to help turn what could’ve been another dogfight of a series into one where Vancouver is one win away from the Western final. With two goals in Game 3 and a big goal in Game 4, Kesler has been a difference maker now in two straight games in Nashville. Kesler is the leading scorer for Vancouver in this series with three goals and four assists. Pretty solid work against a team that prides itself of defending.
Sure, you might want to complain about some of his exaggerations on penalties, but right now he’s playing like the guy who scored 40 goals during the year and was one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL. With Kesler stepping up his game while the Sedin twins remain mostly non-factors shows how dangerous the Canucks could be if they were playing at full capacity.
2. We know we’ve been marveling at Pekka Rinne‘s play in this series, but imagine where the Predators would be without him? All of a sudden Rinne’s work in Game 2 to stand on his head and steal one for Nashville is the only thing keeping this series from being another sweep. Rinne’s had to be outstanding because Roberto Luongo‘s been even stronger at the other end of the ice.
We know that defense is what makes the Predators go but without a virtually flawless goalie like Rinne, they’d be dead in the water. Sure he didn’t look too hot against Anaheim and the Preds offense was able to support him in that series, but that might just speak more to how flawed the Ducks were. Against a beast of a team like Vancouver, Rinne has to be outstanding and the offense has to find a way to make it better. The latter is not happening. Unless the Canucks get complacent and the Predators get back to playing “Predator hockey” they’re toast.
3. While Alex Ovechkin is headed to Slovakia for the World Championships, his teammate Alexander Semin is not and it’s because Russian national coach Vyacheslav Bykov had strong reasons why. Dmitry Chesnokov from Puck Daddy updated via Twitter that Bykov told Sov Sport, “We won’t invite Semin under any circumstances. His play in the last Washington game was very weak.”
Now we don’t want to say that the Russian national coach noticed something that perhaps the Caps staff hasn’t, but that’s a damning statement when your own country doesn’t want to take you in for a tournament where the added help would go a long way to helping a Russian team that’s struggled. The Caps go year-to-year with contracts for Semin but he looked awfully poor against Tampa Bay after looking decent against the Rangers. Perhaps he’ll be part of a roster shake-up in Washington this summer.
4. If anyone is thinking that this year’s version of the Flyers has it in them to do what last year’s Flyers did to Boston I think you’re fooling yourself. Last year’s Flyers team showed a lot of guts throughout their first few losses against the Bruins in that series. This Flyers team hasn’t shown any of that and on top of things, they’re playing sloppy.
If nothing else though, the Flyers can be proud of how these playoffs have become James van Riemsdyk‘s coming out party as an offensive force. The former second overall pick in the draft has been outstanding in the playoffs and he along with Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere have been their steady offensive guys. With Jeff Carter hurt and Mike Richards doing more to earn a poor reputation than leading the team to wins, they’ve needed it… It just hasn’t been enough.
5. Crazy to think that if all the teams that are leading win their next game, the second round will be over with. It’s a decided letdown after the excitement of the first round and while we don’t expect that every round will be bonkers, one sweep along with two potential other sweeps and a fourth series that could end in five leaves us feeling a little flat. Perhaps we’re just spoiled.
That said, the series that are setting up for the next round have us tickled, especially for what could be coming from out west with a possible San Jose-Vancouver Western Conference final.
- Brown, Toews, Alfredsson up for Messier Leadership Award 8
- Playoffs Tonight: Blackhawks look to ‘ramp up our intensity’ vs Red Wings 10
- Report: Patrick Roy a candidate for Avalanche head coaching job 8
- Senators’ OT hero Greening had fiberglass pieces removed from face 4
- Discuss: Senators win Game 3 in double overtime 36
- Report: Kings’ Stoll may have head, shoulder injuries 15
- Rangers’ goaltending a concern? ‘We know what Henrik is,’ says Tortorella 25
- Discuss: Bruins find scoring touch in Game 2 win over Rangers 45
- Playoffs tonight: Spezza’s Game 3 return, Bruins-Rangers highlight your Sunday 5
- Penner blasts refs for having ‘gall to guess’ on goalie interference call 64
- Alex ‘they wanted Game 7′ Ovechkin to address media today before heading to Worlds (110)
- Question for commenters: What’s the hardest team to support? (94)
- Video: Crosby scores hat trick, hits playoff milestone against Senators (91)
- Bryzgalov thinks Stalin did a good job, wishes Philadelphia wasn’t so old, and believes poor people don’t want to work (80)
- McPhee says lack of power plays ‘didn’t feel right’; Torts says Washington is ‘whining’ (70)
- Once the best, Pujols now irrelevant
- Dickey goes 8, beats Rays for 2nd straight win
- PST: Mourinho officially leaving Real Madrid
- PHT: Stalberg returns to Hawks' lineup for Game 3
- PHT: Hawks look to boost intensity vs. Wings
- PFT: Brady says he's 'never felt better' throwing the ball
- PFT: Chad Johnson arrested for probation violation
- Play Video: Bruins rookies have been the x-factor
- Play Video: Finalists for Mark Messier Leadership Award
- Play Video: Bruins turn weakness into strength
- Play Video: Highlights: Senators win double overtime thriller
- Play Video: Craig Adams lays out Spezza in OT
- Play Video: Vokoun makes a big time save on Neil