This second weekend of Stanley Cup playoff hockey was all about handshakes and heartbreaks. Over the course of Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, 2014, there were seven games played, and three teams were eliminated. In order, the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Dallas Stars failed to stay alive, and can now join the Tampa Bay Lightning on the Golf course. 16 teams began the playoffs, there are now 12 remaining.
Here is a look at those teams vanquished over the weekend:
Detroit Red Wings (Lost to Boston 4-2 in Game 5) - This was a case of an overmatched team trying to hang tough against an irresistible force. The proud Red Wings did all they could against the machine that is the Boston Bruins. They managed to steal Game 1 of the series, but were unable to really build any momentum. They managed to keep the games close and somewhat interesting, but in the end the Bruins were just too much. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard's bout with the flu kept him out of the final two games of the series. Boston controlled the tempo in Game 5, and though the final shots on goal were 33 apiece, the outcome of this elimination game never really seemed in doubt. Goalie Tuuka Rask was able to stop the few scoring chances Detroit did have, and the Bruins relentless energetic forwards did the rest. In the end, Boston wound up outscoring Detroit 14-6 over the course of the series. *Boston will now face Montreal in the NHL's oldest of old school rivalries.
St. Louis Blues (Lost to Chicago 5-1 in Game 6) - This was the most cruel case of sports-related deja vu one will ever see. Just like last season, the Blues had home-ice advantage. Just like last season, they won the first two games of the series. Just like last season, they seemed to be firmly in the driver's seat, and then just like last season, it all fell apart. Last season they dropped four straight games to the Los Angeles Kings, this season they dropped four straight to the Chicago Blackhawks. Goaltender Ryan Miller, a trade deadline acquisition by the Blues, was supposed to be the difference maker in situations like this, but alas he was not. The history of Miller indicates that while he is a fine goaltender, he is not necessarily big in big moments. This postseason definitely did nothing positive for his legacy. He was not bad in this series, rather he just was not dominant. Had he been able to steal just one game, there may have been a different outcome. Miller will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Whether he will be brought back, especially with a price tag in the range of $5 mil per season, is anyone's guess. I tend to think he has played his last game in a Blues uniform. Chicago outscored St Louis 20-14 in the series. *Chicago now awaits the winner of the Colorado/Minnesota series.
Dallas Stars (Lost to Anaheim 5-4 OT in Game 6) - This is the very definition of heartbreak. Down 3 games to 2 in this series, the Dallas Stars had a two goal lead with less than 3 mins to play in Game 6. The Ducks pull the goalie, score a goal with 2:10 remaining, and then tie the game with 24 secs left to play. The OT session was short and sweet. Nick Bonino took a feed from Andrew Cogliano and put the puck high into the Dallas net, at 2:47 to end the series. The Stars were that close to forcing a Game 7, and it all went awry. This was a valiant effort by Dallas, and the Stars faithful can now look forward to a team which will be relevant for the foreseeable future, but it is the Ducks who move on. This series was close - Anaheim only outscored Dallas 20-18. *Anaheim will face the winner of the San Jose/Los Angeles series.
In the remaining First Rd playoff series: New York Rangers lead Philadelphia Flyers 3 games to 2. Pittsburgh Penguins lead Columbus Blue Jackets 3 games to 2. San Jose Sharks lead Los Angeles Kings 3 games to 2. Colorado Avalanche lead Minnesota Wild 3 games to 2. All teams except for Rangers/Flyers will play a Game 6 on Monday, April 28. Rangers vs Flyers Game 6 will be played on Tuesday, April 29.
This moment was a microcosm of the series. In Game 2, 6'2" Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith tried to challenge 6'9" Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. Nothing came of the altercation, except for a few laughs from those watching, and a big grin from Chara.
Miller time ?
Ryan Miller was not able to weather the storm created by the Chicago Blackhawks. The pricey netminder gave up five goals in Game 6 which spelled doom for he and his St Louis Blues teammates. Miller's postseason numbers were a rather pedestrian 2.70 goals against avg, and a .897 goals against avg.
Ducks win !
The Anaheim Ducks celebrate after Nick Bonino scored the game/series winning goal in OT of Game 6 vs Dallas. The Ducks were down 4-2 with less than three mins to play. After Devante Smith-Pelly scored the game-tying goal with just 24 secs remaining in regulation time, Bonino ended it 2:47 into OT.