If you are a hockey fan and did not like what you saw Wednesday night, then I don’t think watching hockey is for you. Three game sevens lined up for the evening already set the stage for drama, intrigue, and maybe some shedding of tears. We had teams in the west and east who were trying to keep their playoff alive and players who were fighting for their legacy. This may sound cliché, but all three games were interesting in their own special way and provided the hockey public with not only entertainment but questions going into the offseason.
The night started off with a storied rivalry game seven between the Philadelphia Flyers versus the New York Rangers. The Flyers were a train wreck to start the season but in sports sometimes a change is all you need. The Flyers fired long tenured coach Peter Laviolette and threw Craig Berube to the wolves but who knew that Berube would rise to the occasion and lead his team to this moment. However, the New York Rangers led by motivated veteran players and a veteran coach Alain Vigneault (who was unceremoniously let go by Vancouver) found their heart and were able to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. This game was interesting to me not because Rick Nash looks lazier than ever but because the Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren has a decision to make. Does Holmgren keep Rookie coach Craig Berube or does he go get the big name coach for next season? I think Berube has earned it obviously but I also think this was a bit of a fluke what happened and I’m expecting an okay season from the Flyers next year then to be bad the season after.
The night then went to the young guns of the Colorado Avalanche vs the Minnesota Wild. This series has not gotten the credit it deserves. Although there are not many “big storylines” in this series, the on ice product has been fantastic and this game did not disappoint, Wild winning on the road in a 5-4 shootout. I have to say I did not expect the Wild to score as much as they did in this series but with that being said, their probably getting smacked in the next round. Also, honorable mention to Patrick Roy because I did not expect him to be as good as he was in his inaugural season a head coach.
Finally the night ended with the Los Angeles Kings versus San Jose Sharks squared off in a Battle for California. The San Jose Sharks trying to shake off their reputation as chokers and got off to a 3-0 series lead but have blew that lead, why the series is hit game 7. I was not surprised considering The Los Angeles Kings are a couple years removed from being Stanley cup champions, and let’s not forget that they have a history of coming back from 3-0 in a series and winning. So when the San Jose Sharks got beatdown on home ice by a score of 5-1 to lose the series 4-3 after having a 3-0 series lead, I was not surprised at all. The San Jose Sharks choked again and that is not new. What might be new is how the front office deals with it this time. I think San Jose’s ownership has had it with players who cannot produce in the playoffs and although I don’t expect a complete overhaul of talent, I wouldn’t be surprised if key pieces of the San Jose sharks core are dealt.
All in all the playoffs in the NHL and NBA for that matter has been great television and have set the stage for the offseason.
By: Michael Asiffo