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Five Thoughts: Unsuspecting heroes making themselves known yet again in playoffs

May 8, 2011, 11:03 AM EDT

David Legwand, Joel Ward AP

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers checking in today and if you haven’t gone and thanked your mother for what she’s done for you, it’d be wise to get going on that. As the character Ricky in the movie Better Off Dead said, “It wouldn’t be wise to upset mother.” As for hockey, we know there’s a few very proud hockey moms out there today.

1. If this year’s playoffs have proven anything, it’s that unsuspecting heroes are always all the rage in the playoffs. Think about it. Last year it was Dustin Byfuglien, the year before that it was Maxime Talbot, and in 2008 Johan Franzen arrived on the scene. The playoffs are always about someone coming out of nowhere to do amazing things and this year we’ve got two. Nashville’s Joel Ward and Tampa Bay’s Sean Bergenheim are the active leaders in goals scored in these playoffs with seven goals and their stories are similar. Ward was essentially given up by the Minnesota Wild years ago while Bergenheim ran out of chances with the Islanders. Now their teams wouldn’t be doing as well as they are without them.

2. While Vancouver is still leading their series with Nashville, they’ve shown a tremendous lack of killer instinct in these playoffs. They’re now 1-4 in games where they could eliminate their opponents from the playoffs. They’re fortunate in that they’ve been able to give themselves the cushion needed to have room for error but after nearly giving away their series to Chicago and now giving Nashville life in heading home for Game 6 you have to wonder about them. After all, if they escape this round and make the Western Conference finals it’s doubtful that San Jose or Detroit would give them the kind of room to make mistakes like this. Staying sharp would help the Canucks tremendously.

3. For anyone wondering what, exactly, Predators hockey looks like they got a healthy dose of it last night. Tough, hard-hitting, stifling hockey is just what you saw once the Predators took the lead in the third. Vancouver had a hard time doing anything and only the superhuman efforts of Ryan Kesler even made the game a one goal game late in the third. Just think where the Preds might be in this series if it weren’t for Kesler. He’s practically a Scooby Doo villain at this point for Nashville in that they’d already be in the Western finals if it weren’t for that meddling Kesler. A win like last night’s gives Nashville a lot of confidence to stick to their gameplan and I’d expect things to be even tougher come Game 6.

4. You know things are going rough for the Sedins line with Alex Burrows when they’re getting out-chanced by the line they’re sent out to match up against and try to exploit for offense the other way. David Legwand and Joel Ward didn’t always make it look pretty for their goals (Legwand’s goal flipping it over the net and off of Alex Edler was ingenious) but that sort of thing has happened all series. Alain Vigneault obviously isn’t going to change where he puts his top line on the ice against but he desperately needs the Sedin line to play better in both ends of the ice. If you’re getting beaten by a team’s top line, that’s one thing. Getting beaten by their third line is inexcusable.

5. While the teams in the Western Conference are kind enough to help extend the second round and give us a bit more drama, the Lightning and Bruins must be sitting at home and saying, “Let’s go guys… We’re waiting.” The conference final rounds obviously can’t start until all the pairings are set and while the East is all set and ready to go, we’re still waiting for the West to wrap things up. With that, the Lightning and Bruins will have to stay sharp with practices until then. It’ll be curious to see what that sort of layoff does to both teams and what kind of effect it has going forward into the Stanley Cup finals.

  1. hodag1959 - May 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    What a joke the VS announcers were for this game. They must have been paid by Nashville to bash the Canucks all game. Every time a penalty was not called against the Predators they would gloss over it or say, “clean hit”. But they took extra effort to point out anything the refs didn’t call against the Canucks.

    Kesler scores a goal in the 3rd period and celebrates in front of the fans with his arms in the air and the announcers said he was skating in front of the Predators bench showing them up……..then the replay shows he didn’t even skate by the bench.

    What a couple of bafoons……..can’t NBC or VS do any better than these losers????

  2. shaqattaqer - May 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I agree with hodag’s comment about the announcers. It’s been like that for all of the Canucks games in the playoffs. They’re up 3-2 and could have swept if not for a brilliant save by Rinne in OT, but all the talk is how great the Preds are. They’re a hard working, grind it out team.

    I don’t agree with the poster’s comments about Ryan Kesler keeping Nashville from advancing. Nashville’s played 4 great periods out of 17. Let’s not go overboard here. The point is taken about Kesler carrying the team and the lack of killer instinct by Vancouver. However, Nashville’s been the recipient of fortunate bounces, and while I understand that you definitely make your own luck in the playoffs, it’s not like that you are reasonably expecting them to score four goals again.

    And Ward did the same thing that Kesler did after his scoring second goal. Game 6 should be great theater. At some point the skill of Vancouver should win out, but I thought that in 2003 in the Minnesota series.

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