I Can’t Quit You, Vancouver
It was a close call — I was really starting to think my fanhood was the kiss of death for NHL hockey teams — but my love affair with the Vancouver Canucks continues after their game seven victory versus Chicago. Vancouver’s 3-0 series lead quickly evaporated over the past week as the Hawks roared back with three straight wins of their own. Not only that, but Chicago had been dominant in those victories, outscoring Vancouver 16-5. Just when we thought the West’s top team might fold against the underdog Blackhawks, Vancouver flexed its muscles and won a thriller that was a worthy conclusion to an incredible seven-game series.
The Canucks’ Alex Burrows was the man of the match in the final game — he scored both goals in the 2-1 overtime victory — but it was Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford who nearly stole the show. After surrendering the first goal early, Crawford was absolutely brilliant for the remainder of regulation time. Crawford stood tall (and stood on his head) amidst a constant Vancouver barrage, and stonewalled one golden scoring chance after another….including a penalty shot attempt by Burrows. In the overtime period, however, Burrows who took advantage of a poor turnover by Chris Campoli, and sent a wrist shot over Crawford’s right shoulder to seal the victory.
My Stanley Cup favorite Canucks will face CBJ nemesis Nashville in round two. The Predators took their first round series against Anaheim, 4-2.
Central Division Success
As much as I hate to see them have any sort of success, I wasn’t at all surprised to see Detroit cruise past Phoenix in the first round. (I actually predicted the first-round Wings sweep.) With Nashville also advancing, that means the Blue Jackets’ Central Division foes make up exactly half of the Western Conference semi-final teams. It was nearly three of four, with eight-seed Chicago taking top seeded Vancouver all the way to overtime of game seven. Does it make it easier to accept Columbus’ perpetual playoff-free seasons knowing they’re consistently playing some of the top competition in the NHL? No. No it does not.
I have to give a special shout-out to two of my hockey-loving friends from opposite ends of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whose teams I am wishing success this post-season. First, to Bob from Pittsburgh, whom I knew for about a decade before I knew he had been a huge hockey fan / player his whole life. (Did we ever talk about anything besides boobs and Jagermeister?) I get that everyone is supposed to hate the Pens and talk about Sidney Crosby’s lady parts (okay, I still do the latter from time to time…); but Bob’s a great friend, and I like to see my friends enjoying the thrill of their teams’ successes. (Unless they root for Michigan, in which case there is not enough of their loss or misery in the world to make me happy.) To that end, I’m sorry to see the boys from Pittsburgh end their season after round one of the playoffs. Better luck next year, Bob.
Meanwhile, in the eastern part of the state, my friend Anthony from Philadelphia is basking in the glow of his team’s game seven victory over Buffalo. Playoff beard in tow and decked-out for the affair, he was fortunate to be in attendance. I can only imagine the fun of celebrating a series-deciding playoff win first hand, but enjoyed the game vicariously through Anthony from my TV in Columbus. Hope you had a blast, Anthony, and best of luck in the Eastern Conference semis!
Sinister Ideas Wanted
Followers of Fire That Cannon know that head writer Mary O’Malley and I were cheering for opposing teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With my darling Canucks defeating her fling the Blackhawks, this also means that Mary is in my debt for a hilarious, degrading act of my choosing. So I ask you, FTC Reader, to help me conceive something which appropriately reflects the embarrassment a Jackets fan should feel for incorrectly siding with Chicago. Submit your ideas in the comment section beneath this post, or e-mail me at [email protected]
Second Round Predictions
And finally, with the matchups set for round two, here’s what I see happening to set the table for the conference finals…
(1) Vancouver vs. (5) Nashville: Vancouver in six
(2) San Jose vs. (3) Detroit: San Jose in seven
(1) Washington vs. (5) Tampa Bay: Washington in five
(2) Philadelphia vs. (3) Boston: Philadelphia in seven