We humans are very easily conditioned creatures. We learn what to expect, program that in, and then operate under those assumptions. For example, the Sharks are a bunch of chokers, the success of the Avalanche was always going to be unsustainable, and the Ducks are a bunch of whiny cheating [waterfowl]. All well and good, the boundaries have been established, and the universe falls into a recognizable order.
But what to do when life deviates from the script? What to do if, for example, Marc-Andre Fleury has two shutouts in the playoffs? Consecutively?! That means a whole lot of chances to give up soft fluky goals... without doing it! Could Fleury really be shedding a reputation?
Perhaps. Especially as, unlike in Game 2, Fleury really had to work for this one. In fact, following the Penguins second goal, New York out-Fenwicked Pittsburgh by 20 to 1! Yes that's a result of score effects, but still. That's some genuinely impressive turtling right there.
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Curiously, the other game last night followed a similar fancy stats trajectory. Even-ish through the first half of the game, and then one team got a lead and just stacked all their players in the crease and let the other team hammer away at them, to no avail. The LA Kings took the lead in the first period, and then sat on it, nursing that 2-1 lead all the way 'til the game's final minute, when they made it 3-1. I would feel bad and possibly rail about the injustice, but, the losing team was the Ducks, so, sweet! [NHL.com]
The Champions League of Hockey! Definitely going for quantity over quality. [IIHF]
Down Goes Brown muses on what happens next with the Sharks, and who to blame, and what can be done... [Grantland]
In defense of Ilya Bryzgalov, following Minnesota's losses in the opening two games against Chicago. [Hockey Wilderness]
And lastly, a reminder of who Hockey Wilderness were defending in that last article: