Five games were played last night.
One series is already over, two might as well be, and two others are officially 'On'.
G4: Canucks 3, Blues 2 (VAN wins 4-0)
This is why I'm not a gambling man. I pegged this series as a sure 7 gamer. Instead, the Blues' first foray into the playoffs since 2004 ends in a sweep.
I still don't think it takes the varnish off what they accomplished this season. But I didn't see the same St. Louis team in this series that I saw down the stretch. The good news is, they know what it takes to make the playoffs.
And now they know just how far they have to go to taste playoff success next year. That having been said, they should have been up, 3-2, in the second period on this goal that Greg Wyshynski blogged about today.
The controversial wave off occurs 3:15 in:
Now I realize that as long as the whistle is situated on the referee's hand, there's always going to be a delay between the ref deciding to blow the whistle, and actually blowing it. I remember a Brenden Morrow goal against San Jose a few years ago during the regular season waved off in a similar fashion.
You can't fall back on that if you're Marc Joanette or the NHL war room because the whistle blew a good 2 or 3 seconds AFTER the goal had been scored. It crossed the line then was knocked out.
As such, the NHL needs to establish a 'window' of sorts where goals scored on plays such as these are allowed to stand.
Nevermind that there's no evidence to support Joanette blowing the play dead. At no point was Luongo even close to freezing the puck.
Nonetheless, St. Louis still had plenty of chances to win this game in the third and in the ensuing OT period and they didn't cash in.
As for the Canucks, this team is simply rolling. Roberto Luongo was strong in goal in helping his team kill off two power plays in OT and turning away 18 shots from the Blues. They squandered their own power play chance later in the period. But Alex Burrows made it a moot point on a what started out as an innocent play but ended up as a bad angle goal through Chris Mason's five hole.
One I'm sure he'd love to have back.
So now Vancouver gets to rest for at least a week and maybe more. Something tells me one of the other series is going to go the full seven.
No, I haven't forgotten the first line of this game recap.
G3: Sharks 4, Ducks 3 (ANA leads 2-1)
But allow me to segue into this series. Because out of the seven other series that are still going on, this one is the most likely to go the distance now that San Jose's power play woke up last night.
Last night, San Jose played with four separate leads. Two of those were delivered by their previously moribund power play. And the last marker with the man advantage was the only lead they were able to hold onto as Anaheim knotted the score the previous three times San Jose grabbed a one goal lead.
Let me focus on San Jose's power play for a moment. Because if there's one area of their game that I felt was severely lacking in the first two games of this series and their series last year against Dallas, it was their power play.
Last year, Dallas did a lot of allowing Joe Thornton to carry the puck in the corner before smothering his passing lanes down low. They left the points wide open because Brian Campbell was about the only defenseman that posed a threat on the blueline for the Sharks.
So San Jose went out and picked up Dan Boyle from Tampa Bay and Rob Blake from free agency. The first two games, those two were invisible.
Last night, they both picked up assists on Patrick Marleau's game winner with 9:27 left in the third. Oh, and Boyle also figured into San Jose's other power play goal of the night in the second period.
Suffice to say, I think this series will hinge on how San Jose's power play performs the rest of the series.
G3: Red Wings 4, Blue Jackets 1 (DET leads 3-0)
Didn't get to see any of this one. But based on the first time that fans in Nashville, Raleigh, Phoenix, Denver, Anaheim, and Minnesota (with the Wild of course) tasted playoff hockey for the first time with their teams, I can imagine that Nationwide Arena was rocking the moment the puck dropped at center ice to start Game 3.
And then Tomas Holmstrom scored 67 seconds in to give the Red Wings a lead they would never relinquish.
Let me tell you, that's the worst thing to happen to playoff virgins. Come up with your own analogies for first times if you wish. I'm not going to do it because this is a family blog.
Anyway, Columbus fans now know what it's like to see the Red Wings march into their building and just suck the life out of them come playoff time with a methodical road win.
It's what makes us simulataneously respect them and hate their guts.
G4: Penguins 3, Flyers 1 (PIT leads 3-1)
Sure, Gary's Baby Boy scored a goal in this one to get the Pens going in the second.
But it was the goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury that gave Pittsburgh a Game 3 win and a 3-1 series lead. He made 45 stops including 18 in the third when the Flyers threw everything but the kitchen sink in a futile attempt to tie the game.
Daniel Carcillo was the only Flyer to put one past the Penguins netminder in the third at the 11:44 mark. But for the second time in a little under 11 months, the Flyers find themselves in the uneviable position of being down to the Penguins, 3-1, in a playoff series.
And I don't expect this one to end any differently than the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals ended.
G4: Hurricanes 4, Devils 3 (Series tied 2-2)
Finally, we get to the game of the night in Raleigh.
Didn't look like it would turn out that way as the Canes jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 26:30 of this game. But slowly, the Devils chipped away starting with a Brian Gionta goal with 28 seconds left in the second, followed by third period goals from Brendan Shanahan and David Clarkson.
And it looked like we'd have our second consecutive overtime game in this series until the puck was fed out to the point to David Seidenberg, who fired a shot that was deflected by the skate of former Star, Jussi Jokinen, past Martin Brodeur and into the net at the horn.
Video review showed that the puck clearly entered the net at 0.2 seconds, but the controversy here is that Brodeur felt Jokinen interefered with him moments before the goal was scored. When he didn't get the answer he was looking for, he became unhinged in a very Perez Hilton sort of way, by banging his stick against the boards until it broke into several pieces before leaving the ice.
John Fischer of ILWT argues that the goal should not have stood.
The bolded sentences are the pertinent ones in this situation. It doesn’t matter if Brodeur is 6-9 inches out or 4 feet out. Jokinen made no move to avoid the contact and if anything, from the multiple replays I saw on TV in wonderful HD, it appeared that Jokinen not-so-accidentally bumped him. There was a reason why he stayed up so strong and in front, while Brodeur stumbled for a moment.
As evidence, he trots out the following from the NHL Rulebook:
This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words,goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
Yes, I realize the rulebook states an attacking player has to avoid intentional contact with the goaltender outside of the crease. The problem is, it's really hard to argue, as Fischer does, that the contact between Jokinen and Brodeur was intentional. Jokine, who was in the corner to the right of Brodeur, drifted out towards the goal, took a peak to see where Brodeur was, and then glided out to the front of the net while transfixing his eyes on the point where Seidenberg was. While he was gliding, Brodeur moved to outside of the crease.
Now would this goal have been waved off if the contact had occurred in the crease?
Absolutely, because the referee would have ruled that Jokinen should have been aware where the crease was, and where Marty was.
At the end of the play, it's ultimately a judgment call by the refs. And they're prone to give more leeway to an offensive player in a situation like this when the contact occurs outside of the crease.
And as Wyshynski points out:
Brodeur was out of his crease when the contact was made; the referee's non-call was affirmed by the NHL's situation room. Besides, Brodeur had some time to get back in position -- which was the referee's explanation -- and the game-winner was a ricochet off a skate anyway.
If the Devs had played the first 39 mins, it wouldn't matter.
The series returns to The Rock Thursday night.