Stanley Cup Playoffs: Chalk in the West, Mock Chalk in the East
The Stanley Cup's two favorites in the East will have to continue their comebacks if they're to meet once again in the Conference finals, while the West seems predictably set.
The top-seeded New York Rangers have been firing blanks all spring and found themselves 100 seconds away from elimination on Friday night.
Chris Kreider tied the game against Washington ,and then Ryan Mcdonagh won it in overtime.
The Caps still lead the series 3-2, so it's crunch time again for the Rangers on the road tonight if they're to have a chance to win the series at home on Wednesday.
Washington goalie Braden Holtby has been outstanding in both the first round and this series. At the other end of the rink, Henrik Lundqvist is the Blueshirts' main reason they're still playing. With a 1.51 goals-against average in 11 games, King Henrik needs to be outstanding again tonight for his team to move on.
The Rangers could also use some help from both Rick Nash and Marty St Louis, both of whom have been invisible for much of the playoffs. It's amplified their loss of the league's only Norwegian. Meanwhile, Alex Oveckin's had help -- lotsa help -- in banging the Rangers around, as the squad's unsung heroes have stood up to be counted.
Tampa Bay led Montréal, three games to none, and it seems like
Darth Vader PK Subban has succeeded in being as much of a pest off the ice as on. By whatever means, the Canadiens have now won the last two games and head into Tampa on Tuesday with momentum.
Carey Price has been brilliant in goal for the Habs -- other than a poor performance in Game 2 -- and now he has the Lightning talking to themselves. Once Montréal came back from a tough Game 3 loss to win Game 4, they have been saying that they can do this and now it looks like they have a chance. With players like Subban starting to round into shape, the Canadiens may just pull off this comeback. Then again ...
The Blackhawks are in the conference finals for the fifth time in seven years, and after a hiccup against Nashville, goalie Corey Crawford is back on top of his game. With Patrick Kane healthy and scoring -- five goals in the series -- Chicago can make it back to the Cup finals for the third time in six years after winning it in 2010 and 2013.
Anaheim has been a disappointment in recent seasons, not getting past the second round of the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. The Ducks have won thee Pacific Division titles in a row and now hope to parlay that with a win tonight and a victory over Chicago to advance to the finals.
One reason they have that opportunity is Johnny Hockey's steep learning curve in playoff performances. Just when it looked like he was morphing into a miracle worker, his attempt to do too much ultimately doused the Flames in Game 4:
As seen, though, the Ducks can weather a storm with their depth. While stars like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and goalie Frederik Anderson have led the way, players like Matt Beleskey and Jakob Silfverberg have stepped up and contributed in big ways for coach Bruce Boudreau.
While drama in the West may have to wait another round, the East could feature newcomers if the favorites don't step it up in enemy rinks.