Playoffs = good times

I just finished watching Game 5 in the Buffalo/Rangers series, the latest classic in what has turned out to be a fabulous series. The first two goals of the game in the last four minutes? Drury in the clutch again? Game 4 scratch Max Afinogenov getting the OT winner in Game 5? Crazy good, and those Sabres fans are in-freaking-credible.

In fact, the playoffs on a whole this year have been spectacular — in different series for different reasons. Nobody was happy with the Flames’ performance in Round 1, but that didn’t mean the series was a bore. We watched a great Detroit team play top-level playoff hockey, virtuoso Miikka Kiprusoff and Jamie McLennan lose his mind. Even though we haven’t seen any big upsets, we’ve seen brawls (Nashville/San Jose), hits (Pittsburgh’s Colby Armstrong on Ottawa’s Patrick Eaves), controversy (Daniel Briere’s no-goal in Game 4 against the Rangers) and, well, we’ve seen Roberto Luongo.

The guy annoyingly dubbed “Bobby Lu” was everything he should have been in the playoffs — weirdly, until it mattered the very most. What a strange set of events that occurred last night. How can a guy with “equipment problems” not get ready for the most important period of the season in 15 minutes? And since when do goalies call penalties? The guy was exhausted, I’m sure, but that’s the worst possible time for bad judgment.

Now, one can hardly blame Luongo for the Canucks losing the series. They would have been done in four games against Dallas with any other goalie in the league save for Kiprusoff, Brodeur and maybe Lundqvist. But the focus has to be there last night, to get ready for the start of overtime whatever it takes, and to be smarter on the winner.

He knows it, and he won’t do it again.

Also, the Sedins, we’re now told, both played most of the playoffs with stomach viruses. (Do they do everything together? Same virus is bizarre. Why not Daniel and, say, Mattias Ohlund?) And that D was a mess of injuries.

The Canucks will be back, unfortunately.

Couple of other things I’ve been thinking about lately:

The modify-overtime movement. This one makes me angry. For the love of Mud Bruneteau, anyone who thinks playoff OT should be made four-on-four after a period, the current idea-du-jour, should shut the hell up. The arguments for a change seem to be, a) It’s bad for TV; and b) It’s unfair to the teams who play multiple overtimes, because it affects them in future games and series.

Well, firstly it’s not bad for TV. It makes great TV, because it’s the best drama in any sport, anywhere. The stakes get higher with every second. What makes it bad for TV is that West Coast games get into the wee hours of the morning, and wimpy types out here can’t handle 3 a.m.; and apparently, U.S. channels don’t want their other programming affected. Neither are compelling reasons to modify a decades-old tradition, and the only really fair way to resolve a game of playoff magnitude.

As for being “fair” to the teams? If you’re good enough, the game doesn’t go to overtime and you win in regulation. Overtime the price you pay for not winning in 60 minutes, and the rules are the same for everyone.

Really, I think the pundits talking about this are just raising it so there’s something to talk about. I don’t think this is happening, but even the sniff makes me mad because there’s nothing better in sports than a long, playoff hockey overtime.

The Rangers. Where did this come from? I know walkinvisible, who’s a big Henrik fan, has been a fan for a while. And I know that in the last 41 games, the Rangers had 50 points to Buffalo’s 51. But I can’t believe what Tom Renney has been able to do with that lineup, which was Flames-in-Detroit bad last playoffs — completely disinterested in winning. The only significant changes this season were Brendan Shanahan and Sean Avery, though I’ll allow that those two are capable of wide-reaching attitudinal impact.

The Sabres pulled out their only-in-Buffalo magic tonight, but the Rangers were there all the way. That’s a hell of a team, and they’re not through yet.

The Senators, their fans, and radio call-in shows. I love the team the Senators have put together, and they became my team when the Flames went out. But I was in Ottawa for Game 2 of their first-round series, and that team has some strange-ass fans. The whole thing with booing Sidney Crosby whenever he touched the puck was mindless, and a sign of a city that after 12 years still doesn’t have the right amount of respect for the game.

And listening to the post-game show that day (the 4-3 loss in which Pittsburgh scored on pretty much every chance they had, and Ottawa played a fantastic 60 minutes overall), almost every caller to the post-game show declared the apocalypse had come. “Emery’s not good enough, time to get rid of Redden because he sucks and we should have kept Chara, Heatley can’t score, we’re losing the series, oh my god life sucks.”

Worse that Leafs fans on the radio here, by far. And I’m told it’s par for the course on the radio there.

Look, I know there are a pile of smart Senators fans out there. Maybe the Crosby booers and crazy callers just need a Stanley Cup win to loosen them up.

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~ by duncan on May 4, 2007.

4 Responses to “Playoffs = good times”

  1. It really has been a great playoffs so far huh? other than Clagary’s meltdown in Game 5, and Brad MAy Turning into…well Brad May every series has provided drama. Almost every game has been great. Every second round series has been fantastic. It really has been fun, and we still get another month or so of it.

  2. The NY/Buffalo series is looking to be an absolute heartbreaker for Rangers fans. And I’m behind you 100% on OT.

  3. dude. where the hell are you ?

  4. On the patio, of course. Sorry! I’m back now.

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