At some point in the series, Ovechkin will run Crosby hard, not to hurt him but to try to get him to react and start looking for ways to pay back rather than win the game. I don't know if Crosby will take that bait. He has in the past and still has some growing up to do, but whatever comes of it will be must-watch TV on and off the ice.
But this isn't mano-a-mano. The best part of the rivalry is there are so many ancillary offshoots:
From an individual perspective, I think we'll see Crosby emerge with the higher marks. Ovechkin struggled while trying to do too much against the Rangers, and I can see his competitive fire burning a little too brightly. Crosby seems more focused, more grounded. And you can't rule out the experience factor. He's been here before. Ovechkin hasn't.
That said, I don't think this series comes down to their battle, or to Malkin or Semin. I think the difference-maker has to be
The Hurricanes are sitting on their bench, the clock is ticking down and they are losing to a team that can protect a lead like few others, and with the winningest goaltender of all time tending the net. In little more than the blink of
Boston is the better team and I believe they will, over the course of the series, right themselves and win it. But they're going to have to move quickly to match Carolina's emotional level and work harder than they did against Montreal to solve
In 2007, they survived a seven-game goalie's duel between
But the Blackhawks were not as badly mangled by Calgary in their six-game series as I suspected they would be. In fact, Chicago seemed to do the majority of the initiating against the once-fierce Flames. With a shorter (although not insignificant) rest than Vancouver, the Blackhawks could steal Game 1 unless Luongo is razor sharp.
The Canucks, however, take on a team that used winning on the road as a mantra before doing just that to eliminate the Flames in six. The Blackhawks were a good road team all season and to them, at least conceptually, this is just the second game of a trip. That preparation should have them ready from the outset while the Canucks will need time to reestablish the level of superior play they exhibited down the stretch and in the first round. That particularly applies to Luongo, who had his impressive run of top-notch netminding interrupted.
It's a different scene in Calgary where the faithful were chomping at the bit to get past the first gate and are surely going to hold coach
There should be a contract number that will satisfy captain
Still, losing in such heartbreaking fashion should give management pause to reflect and retool -- this time without the retro feel. Then again, maybe if the Devils had prospects ready to step in, it already would have happened. Regardless, they could have as many as six new faces for next season -- a sizeable number for any team, especially so for the conservative Devils.
Injuries gave Keenan some cover, but it's hard to excuse his mishandling of the troops left on hand.
So instead of joining the chorus, put me down for Carolina defenseman