Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 29

Wednesday night was supposed to be the game of the century for the NHL...well, maybe not the century, but come on:

Game Seven between two of the league's biggest young stars - Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals - in a series where five of the previous six games were decided by one goal, three of those needing overtime...

It HAD to be awesome, didn't it? Maybe not.

Here's the recap:

(Penguins 6, Capitals 2)

-It's not that the Washington Capitals came out flat on Wednesday night, it was moreso a case of a team slowly deflating before our very eyes.

The game could have gone either way early on - within the first three minutes Alex Ovechkin had a pair of great chances (including a breakaway) but was stymied by Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury both times.

Shots were pretty much even by the 12:30 minute mark of the first period, but that's when things took a turn for the worse for the home side. Sidney Crosby and Craig Adams scored goals EIGHT seconds apart, blowing this game wide open.

They struck again with the quickness to start the second period and rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov saw his playoff run come to an end after just over 22 minutes of action (four goals on 18 shots).

Varlamov didn't play his best hockey, but neither did the rest of his team, to be fair.

To the star attractions: Sidney Crosby scored twice (one coming on an Ovechkin giveaway) and had three points; Alex Ovechkin scored once, his 11th and final goal of the 2009 playoffs. Sid the Kid and the Great Eight finished the series even on goals with eight and Ovie wound up with a 6-5 edge in assists.

Those are pretty remarkable numbers, but how about this for an interesting stat - the Penguins didn't take a single penalty in their game seven win. The Caps took four and gave up power play goals on two of those occasions.

To break it down: the Capitals relied heavily on a goalie who really had no business being the all-of-a-sudden starter in the playoffs (though he far exceeded expectations), while the Pittsburgh Penguins used the experience they gained last year (and at the deadline) to defeat a team that didn't have the killer instinct.

Throughout the playoffs, it looked to me like the Capitals never played their best hockey until they were forced to step up.

Thankfully for the Penguins, the other Eastern Semi-Final is ALSO heading to a seventh game!


*Anaheim @ Detroit - 5pm (Series: tied 3-3)
*Carolina @ Boston - 6pm (Series: tied 3-3)


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