Montreal: 5 - Pittsburgh: 2 (Canadiens Win Series 4-3)
Do you like the Habs? If you do, then of course you're happy with tonight's result. That's a no brainer.
Do you like the Stars? Of course if you're reading this that's probably a bigger yes and thus you should be almost as happy as Habs fans are with tonight's win because Montreal winning in game seven and moving on to the Eastern Conference final means no P.K. Subban or any other Habs reinforcements heading to Hamilton for their AHL West conference final series against the Texas Stars.
Consider it a win-win for everyone. Well except for hockey fans in Hamilton... And I suppose fans in Pittsburgh aren't happy with it either.
The Penguins - like Detroit - have had an amazing three season stretch of hockey but in the end it caught up with them. I had kinda figured it would have in the first series and they showed signs of a worn out team, in this second round though it was even more apparant. It felt like there was a bit of hunger and desperation missing from the Pens game in these playoffs. Like the hearts and minds were willing but the bodies just couldn't respond.
And even if Penguin fans don't want to admit that, how else can one explain how Hal Gill shuts down Sidney Crosby like he did? I mean yes Gill is a fine defenseman, but Sidney is supposed to be the best in the world right? If you had taken a poll of 100 people before this series asking if Hal Gill - and the Canadiens defense minus Andrei Markov for that matter - could shut down the Pittsburgh centers of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal (who granted himself was playing hurt) ... I'm willing to bet out of those 100 people, 5 maybe would have thought it was possible.
And yes Jaroslav Halak was absolutely brilliant again as he has been all playoffs and he'll get the lions share of credit for yet another stunning series win, but I can't help but be in awe of how great players like Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez have been and they too deserve a lot of credit for being clutch goal scorers when the Habs have needed them.
So is the result of this series an indication that the Canadiens are this good, or was it a case of the Penguins running out of gas? For what it's worth, I think all talk of this being a fluke playoff run for the Habs needs to stop now. Is it an amazing run? Yes. An unforeseen run? Of course. But the Montreal Canadiens are for real from the net on out and who ever they match up against in the east final and possibly in a Stanley Cup final are going to find that the Habs (to borrow a baseball term for a moment) are the farthest thing from an "easy out."
Boston: 1 - Philadelphia: 2 (Series Tied 3-3)
Now if you want to talk about improbable playoff runs, look no further than the Philadelphia Flyers.
In the last month the Flyers have:
Barely squeaked into the playoffs needing a shootout win to do so.
Match up against the Atlantic division winners in New Jersey. (Granted the Flyers had a great regular season record against them, but still it's Martin Brodeur in the playoffs right?)
Beat the Devils rather convincingly.
Fall into a 3-0 hole against the Boston Bruins and were actually an overtime goal away from being swept out of the playoffs.
Lose their starting goalie Bryan Boucher who was in reality the 4th starting goalie the Flyers have had this season and be forced to play some guy named Michael Leighton, who lo-n-behold is actually a solid goaltender much to the surprise of... well... everyone on planet earth who are not Michael Leighton's parents.
They manage to ride Leighton's goaltending and some timely scoring from Mike Richards, Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne while having Chris Pronger lead a Flyers defense which is much more improved over the last three games - mainly because they have to be improved because who knows when or if this bubble that is Michael Leighton will burst.
Talk about a crazy month for Flyers players, coaches and fans alike. How crazy has this stretch been for Philly? If you listen to Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette right now, his voice is as worn out and tired as Chris Chelios. (Horray for an uncalled for but still worthwhile "Chris Chelios is old" blast! We'll miss you Cheli!)
Before this series if you had told me that it would go the full seven, I would have figured that's perfectly fine to expect, but not the way that it's actually played out. The Bruins look lost on the ice. For every bit as good they were in games one, two and three and for some of game four, they've been equally bad the rest of the way.
Which Bruins team will show up for game seven? Will it even matter because right now the Flyers are playing some great hockey! Thank goodness we finally get a day off from playoff action tomorrow, we fans may need it for what will be another intense game seven on Friday!