San Jose: 1 - Detroit: 7 (Sharks Lead Series 3-1)
Last season, the Stars finally came to realize that their long-time goaltender was not what he used to be. His mental lapses became more numerous. His bad stretches outnumbered his great stretches. Turco had gone from being the reliable, consistent presence in net to being the ticking time bomb that you never knew when it would go off.
All season long, I've felt this way about Evgeni Nabokov.
Sure, his stats aren't horrific. In fact, many goaltenders would be glad to have those stats. But Nabokov is not the same goalie Stars fans remember being stifled by during the '08 playoff series. You can't quite count on him to make EVERY big save, and you can't trust him to clinch a playoff series when he has every right to.
Tonight, he got fleeced (and I mean FLEECED) for five goals in the first period, three to the same player (Johan Franzen). I'm not going to sit here and put all the blame on him for those goals, because I realize that the play in front of the net (which was awful) influences the way the goaltender plays often. But the worrisome thing for Sharks fans is that they've seen this before this season. Nabokov will have an outstanding stretch of games, and then have an absolute failure of a night. The Stars did it twice to him this season, both times late in the schedule. He hasn't quite gotten to the Marty Turco level of frustration yet (where he is absolutely awful for a week at a time), but it's not like the Sharks fans shouldn't be concerned with him in net. I'd almost rather know he's going to suck all week than not have any clue when he's going to implode randomly for a game.
(And for those of you wondering why I was so harsh towards Roberto Luongo and more reserved towards Nabokov, it's all about respect. When it comes to sports, I save my respect only based on a players character. So, Nabokov has earned that respect. Luongo hasn't.)
Pittsburgh: 2 - Montreal: 3 (Series Tied 2-2)
I'm almost afraid to say this, but isn't this starting to feel like a great sports moment waiting to happen? Like (dare I say it) destiny?
Seriously, it's gotten to the point where I looked up, saw Montreal had scored, and shrugged. Then, I looked up, saw they had taken the lead, and I didn't even bat an eye. It's almost expected now. Halak continues to be amazing. They're getting scoring from the usual suspect (Mike Cammelleri) and his fabulous supporting cast. They're getting some great coaching.
Raise your hand if you've ever heard of this kid before the playoffs. Me neither. And yet he's jumped onto the ice with a vigor and a tenacity that usually only veterans possess. He's poised, doesn't make many mistakes, and clearly has the respect from his teammates in the locker room.
Didn't think I'd say it, but Halak isn't what's keeping Montreal afloat in this series. It's P.K. Subban.