It’s a good thing I already have reasons to be up until all hours on a regular basis, otherwise I might be regretting having decided to follow a Western Conference matchup. By the time these games are over not only is it late, but I’m freakin’ hockey brain-dead from 8 consecutive hours of playoff melodrama. I’m rather hoping that some of the series I care less about get swept in the quickest possible way, just so I can turn off the TV. What’s that you say? I don’t have to watch hockey just because I can? That’s crazy talk.
1. Hypothesis: it’s very difficult for any given pair of hockey teams to sustain a truly violent animosity for more than two consecutive games. Probably not impossible, but difficult. After the previous two games in this series, everyone and their grandmother was predicting that tonight’s match would be sheer liquid hatred for 60 minutes, and it wasn’t even close. Oh, there was a little bit of casual nastiness and a good number of penalties, but mostly both teams just looked tired, as though it was almost too difficult to pick up the energy to play the freakin’ game, much less the energy to dish out some gratuitous beatings.
2. As I understand it, the Preds were not really predicted to do well in this game, given their overall poor history in playoffs-on-the-road and the reputation of the ‘Shark Tank’ (no, I don’t know what it’s really called) for being a difficult road building. By the standards of the Pacific/Central Divisions, anyway. But man, they sucked. Partly, I think, it shows the downside of trying to win a series by out-thugging the opposition, which is apparently the preferred way to try to beat San Jose. But there’s a point at which a willingness to take penalties to be scary just turns into a willingness to take penalties instead of, well, playing hockey.
3. That said, given how badly
4. Problems with picking up a new team for the playoffs:
a. Insufficient knowledge of the full roster. When it comes to the Sharks, I know they’re big names, obviously, and a fair amount about their D just from all the trade talk, but I’m totally clueless about their 3rd/4th line types- who they are, how they play, what their reputations are, nothing. Which is sort of sad, really, because sometimes I think you can learn more about a team from it’s depth than from its premiere pieces.
b. Goalie-shock. Maybe goaltending is a universal language, but every goalie seems to have his own syntax and accent. It takes time to learn to read them. Over the course of the season I learned to read the Habs goalies and a good number of those in the Northeast Division, to understand something of their variant styles, what was ‘normal’ vs. ‘off’ for them, but I don’t have that with Lolita, so he always looks a little off to me. He must, obviously, be good enough to have gotten them this far, but I just cringe at the way he jumps out into the play, can’t get used to it.
It’s very interesting to see the way the different series are shaping up. Having seen games now from all of them, it’s sort of astounding the way they’re not only different from the regular season but different from each other, and I wonder very much how those differences will affect the later rounds. My instinct is that, unless Calgary and Minnesota start showing considerably more life than they have thus far, Detroit and Anaheim are going to come out of their series having expended comparatively little energy and taken comparatively little damage, whereas whoever wins of Dallas/Vancouver and San Jose/Nashville is going to be going to the semifinals at significantly depleted strength. Similarly, whoever in the East gets to play whatever tattered leftovers remain of the Sens/Pens might find themselves very fortunate indeed.