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2010 NHL Playoff Nightcap: Something Familiar In Montreal

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Pittsburgh: 2 - Montreal: 4 (Series Tied 3-3)

I could sit here and congratulate myself for predicting the Canadiens would take the Penguins to a Game Seven. I could. But I won't. For two reasons:

1) It was a gut feeling, and I don't like gloating about gut feelings.

2) I really honestly had no idea what was going to happen.

There's always the temptation to go with the hot hand when analyzing playoff series. A goalie that is in the 'zone', a couple forwards playing out of their minds, and a rookie defenseman filling in admirably for an injured star are all enticing factors. When it comes to the playoffs, momentum is not an easy thing to take for granted.

Yet a matchup like this should negate that a bit, no? Sure, Montreal's stunning defeat of the Capitals was impressive. But how many hockey minds actually FULLY trusted Washington anyways? Whereas the Capitals came with at least some doubts, this Penguins team seemed a more well-rounded squad. Solid offensive weapons, dependable defense, and a solid goaltender. Oh, and a Stanley Cup. That too. So really, I wouldn't have been surprised if Montreal's magic failed when faced with the experience of Pittsburgh.

But there was one factor I think some of us neglected to recognize. Yes, they have momentum. But Montreal also seems to have that 'it' factor. That extra something that wills them to comeback after comeback. They can give up the first one or two goals, because inevitably we know (and they seem to know) that they are destined to come back and regain the lead.

Now, I can't forget that there is still a Game Seven to play. Anything can happen. The Penguins could put that home energy to use and sap the Habs of whatever magic they have left.

But something tells me that's not meant to happen.

Philadelphia : 4 - Boston: 0 (Bruins Lead Series 3-2)

It's never ceased to amaze me during these playoffs how teams with series leads expect their opponents to give up, roll over and die, then act surprised when they don't. That's exactly what the Bruins did tonight.

I saw no extra energy from Boston. They didn't assert themselves along the boards. They didn't fight to protect the front of their net. They didn't hustle to backcheck. They didn't show any drive to get back on D for odd-man rushes.

For Pete's sake, Boston, you knocked out their goaltender and you couldn't be bothered to score on Michael Leighton (who hasn't seen any action in over a month, and got cleared to play a few days ago)?

No, Tuukka Rask didn't have the best night of his life. But nobody who played in front of him really gave him any help, either. And now after putting a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, the Bruins have allowed a much maligned, hobbling Flyers team back into a series without putting much resistance up at all.

This can end only two ways: Boston blows the series, or they put things together and win it. Either way, whoever wins this series is going to be going into the conference finals with some serious momentum. Stay tuned.