Stanley Cup Round 2: Heated Rivals, Fuller Beards
Hockey fans are in their element right now.
In a league known for dramatic Games 7, the NHL staged three Games 7 last week and now have four great matchups in the second round. Which also means the battle of the playoff beards has now been trimmed.
There's no series more hotly contested in the NHL than Montréal and Boston, who are tied at one game apiece after two great games in the new Garden. The Canadiens took Game 1 in double overtime and had a 3-1 lead midway through the third period in Game 2 before the Bruins struck for four goals and won the game.
The series now shifts to La Belle Province for the next two clashes.
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh is another paring about which the NHL is happy to see. The Rangers struck first with a 3-2 overtime win on the road. They can now go up 2-0 tonight and plan to continue keeping Sydney Crosby in check. Believe it or not, the Kid has still not scored in the playoffs this year.
The winner of the Rangers-Penguins will play the winner of the Canadiens and Bruins for the Eastern Conference title.
Out West ,the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks dumped St.Louis and now are playing the upstart Minnesota Wild, who upset Patrick Roy's Colorado Avalanche in seven games. Chicago will attempt to hold serve tonight in Game 2 after taking the first game at home.
In the other series, the Anaheim Ducks are finally facing the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs in a series of two heated rivals. The Kings have just completed making history by defeating the San José Sharks after falling behind three games to none, and last night, Marion Gaborik tied the game with just seven seconds to go with a baseball swing on a flying puck that got past Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller and then won it in overtime to give the Kings an early advantage.
This year's playoffs are drawing record viewerships that aren't necessarily being reflected in the ratings. The NHL is at the forefront in digital streaming and is doing boffo business in the desktop-laptop-smartphone arena. What with the usual quality and ferocity of the Stanley Cup playoffs, more fans are getting more access to the action than ever before.
And they're no doubt glad they do.