Late night for Momma Gouche

San Jose Sharks took a 3-0 lead in the first period of Wednesday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Joe Pavelski scored at 9:05, Dan Heatley added one at 10:01 and Devin Setoquichi gets another at 10:24. It looked like it would be a real runaway for the Sharks. However, by the end of the second, the Red Wings got into the game, with goals by Dan Cleary at 11:40 and Johan Franzen at 4:45, cutting San Jose’s the lead to one. Detroit downfall was probably the two penalties they took at the end of the second. They started the third with two men in the box and facing a 5 on 3. San Jose’s Joe Pavelski wrists one in 50 seconds into the third, making it 4-2. Red Wings Brian Rafalski snaps a shot in at 2:57 and shortens the lead to one. Detroit put up a gutsy fight in the dying minutes in the game, and when they pulled Jimmy Howard they almost scored. It was a rough game with 15 penalties. Actually quite exciting to see Detroit try to struggle back.

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What is Wrong in Washington?

Following a deeply disappointing first round exit there are now plenty of issues for the Washington Capitals to address during what will be a very painful off- season. Even though the Capitals enjoyed plenty of regular season success  by winning the Presidents’ Trophy with 121 points the fact remains that they fell drastically short in achieving the overall team goal of winning the Stanley Cup. When Capitals management congregate and discuss what went wrong in their first round loss against the Montreal Canadiens they will discover quite a few disturbing trends which led to their eventual downfall. In a series that went an entire seven games the Capitals who led the league this year with 318 regular season goals were outscored by a combined 9-3 in all seven first periods. Washington who processed one of the best power plays this season suddenly dried up by executing only once in 33 opportunities. “I think us guys who are on the power play, we have to take blame on it,” Capitals scoring forward Nick Backstrom said. “(Coach) Bruce (Boudreau) told us what to do and sometimes we didn’t do that and we didn’t work hard enough. That’s us players who weren’t good enough there.” Besides for looking at the slumping power play another reason why Washington got eliminated was that certain star players didn’t step up against the Canadiens. Forward Alex Semin who was a 40 goal scorer was shut out during the opening round despite unleashing 44 shots throughout the series. Other underachievers included forward Tomas Fleischmann who scored 23 goals in the regular season but was also shut out in the post season. Washington’s number one defenceman Mike Green drastically underachieved in not scoring throughout the series. Fair or not this Norris Trophy candidate is already getting plenty of criticism for his costly penalties and inconsistent play. Even Alex Ovechkin who had 5 goals and 10 points in the series will get some criticism since he is the captain. Not surprisingly Boudreau was quick to defend his stars moments after this devastating loss. “Nobody tried as much as Alex and Nicky, and sometimes you just don’t score goals,” Boudreau said. “They didn’t have success in the last three games scoring—but they tried as hard as they could.”  Management must also ponder about the killier instinct their players have. After taking a 3-1 strangle hold on the series they couldn’t finish off Montreal and that will haunt this franchise all summer long. In the final three games Washington never had the lead. The Canadiens scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of Games 5- 6. During Game 7 Marc-Andre Bergeron scored a late first period goal for Montreal and they never looked back. What tweaks if any need to be made by Caps management?

San Jose Fines Detroit

Despite the extra ordinary circumstances the city of San Jose was not going to give the Detroit Red Wings a break. On Tuesday, after the Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in a seventh game, they flew directly to San Jose and ended up landing 49 minutes past the alleged 11:30 p.m. curfew. As a result of landing late at Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport the Red Wings are now facing the strong possibility of being fined $2,500 for violating curfew. “Our practice is to send a notice to the operator that gives them 10 days to respond with information that we need to make a determination whether there’s been a violation,” David Vossbrink, whose with the airport, told the Mercury News. “We sent that letter today.” Meanwhile, the Wings will take to the ice tonight to battle the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi Finals.

THE RED WINGS MOVE ON AND NOW THE SHARKS

The game between the Detroit Red Wings/Phoenix Coyotes opened up fast and exciting. At first both teams are looking at their best. Both determined to take the series. There was jostling around the net, but no rough body checks. Both playing their own game. The first period had no goals, 2 penalties and 17-6 shots in favor of the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk scores a power play goal at 2:01 and another at 3:42 of the second. With the number of shots on goal Bryzgalov has done well to only have let in two. Finally the Coyotes get an unassisted goal from Vernon Fiddler at8 23. Detroit speeds up the play midway through the second and is threatening to score again. Eric Lidstrom makes it 3-1 at 13:52. The game is starting to get rough as the Red Wings get poised to win. Brad Stuart scores with 5 second left in the period to make it 4-1. The Detroit Red Wings are leaving no doubt that this is their game. Todd Bertuzzi   puts one in at 6:38 of the third and the game is virtually over. Niklas Lidstrom scores his second power play goal at 12.14 and that is the end of the scoring. That gives the Red Wings 6-1 and a trip to the next series. This was a game totally dominated by the Detroit Red Wings – with 4 power play goals. It was not a boring game, as the score might indicate. Phoenix gave all they had to the very end of the game. Now the Wings must hope that the BIG three do not wake up from their dead sleep. One goal between Thornton, Heatley and Marleau in the last series against the Avalanche will not propel the Sharks past the Wings!

MONTREAL VANQUISHES WASHINGTON..by Momma Gouche

                                Wednesday night’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Washingtin Capitals opened in a short brawl. Tempers seemed to be on edge. After 7 minutes the Capitals have had 4 shots  and Montreal none. (you don’t shoot — you don’t score) Alexi Ovechkin is using his body and has a very visable presence. Washington almost scored at the 8 minute mark, but Jaroslav was ready. Halak has had lots of action, but has stood his ground. Montreal’s Marc-Andre Bergeron slaps one in with seconds left in the period and the Canadians are ahead 1-0. Montreal is doing a good job of intercepting the puck and holding Washington off in their power plays. It was a scoreless second period, but the Capitals outshot the Canadiens 11-2. So far Montreal has done well in holding down Ovechkin. He has had several shots, but Halak was ready for them. Montreal has excelled offensively and has managed to quickly clear their end. Halak has done a superb job! Washington has had 31 shots to Montreal 12. It is breath holding time for all Canadians – can we pull it off with seven minutes left? The Canadiens are doing a marvelous job and almost made it 2-0. Ovechkin just missed the net. Then Montreal’s Moore scores with three minutes left. Three minutes is a long time to hold your breath. Washington’s Brooks Laich scores at 17.44 and Ryan OBryne get a penalty for Montreal at 18.66. The Canadiens miss a couple of shots on an empty net, but the clock winds down and Montreal has won the series. Well done Montreal Canadiens. Washington has blown a 3-1 lead in the series.

Upset, Upset, Upset…Halak, Brilliant

To put into perspective what the Montreal Canadians accomplished on Wednesday night — keep in mind — that prior to this year’s playoffs, only eight times out of 30 opportunities has an 8th seed ever upset a number 1 seed during the playoffs opening round. After Montreal grabbed that eighth seed with 88 points, no one was giving them a chance against the powerhouse Washington Capitals, who won the Presidents’ Trophy.  Led by some spectacular goaltending from the emerging Jaroslav Halak, along with some courageous shot blocking from Hal Gill and scoring from Mike Cammalleri, the Canadiens shocked the hockey world on Wednesday when they officially eliminated Washington on the strength of a 2-1, game 7 win. While Montreal becomes the ninth team to knock off a number 1 seed, they become the first to pull the trick on a top seed after trailing 3-1 in the best out of seven series. In the past, winning the Presidents’ Trophy has been looked upon as a playoff curse. Last year the San Jose Sharks had the best overall record and ended up bowing out in the opening round to the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks — in six games. Historically, the eight seed team has had problems in the second round and not faired very well. With the eight teams who have knocked off a first seeded team, before the playoffs this year, only the 2006 Edmonton Oilers made it past the second round. In fact,   they had a magical spring in going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. It’s important to note that Montreal becomes the ninth 8th seeded team to pull the trick since 1994, when the playoff format was switched, where the number 1 in the conferences plays number 8, 2 plays number 7 etc. The following are other 8th seeded teams who pulled the trick.

1994 — San Jose (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over Detroit (1)
1995 — N.Y. Rangers (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Quebec (1)
1998 — Ottawa (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over New Jersey (1)
1999 — Pittsburgh (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over New Jersey (1)
2000 — San Jose (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over St. Louis (1)
2002 — Montreal (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Boston (1)
2006 — Edmonton (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over Detroit (1)
2009 — Anaheim (8) won best-of-seven series 4-2 over San Jose (1)
2010 — Montreal (8) won best-of-seven series 4-3 over Washington (1

Marc Savard is Ready!

On Tuesday the Boston Bruins got that much more dangerous when it was made official that their best all around scoring forward Marc Savard received medical clearance for Round 2 of the playoffs. This playmaking veteran who suffered a devastating concussion on March 7 has been shelved ever since but on Monday passed the necessary tests given to him by neurologist Jeremy Schmahamann at Massachusetts General Hospital. “He examined Marc, he (Schmahamann) had some further discussion with our doctors and he has been cleared to play,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. “I’ll leave it up to Claude (Jullien, coach) as far as putting the lines together and who plays and who doesn’t play. Marc is ready to go. I know from talking to him he’s very anxious to play.” Savard who scored 33 points in only 41 games has been practicing hard with the team since April 24 and according to reports is showing no ill effects from the injury. “He’s an elite player,” said Chiarelli. “He’s been chomping at the bit to play. The fact that we were able to clinch and give him some time to get acclimated and get some full practices in is beneficial to (Savard) and the team. It’s like a trade deadline acquisition. We’re adding a very good player to our mix for the next series.”  No word yet on who Savard will have on his line.