The Czech Republic lose to Norway in the IIHF World Championship ice hockey tournament. Canada loses to Switzerland; and now the NHL team that scraped into the playoffs at the last post (Montreal) defeats the reigning champions. Something is seriously amiss in the hockey universe.
Credit must go to Montreal – in both playoff series they were up against vastly superior teams if talent and the season’s performances were taken into account. In both series, they defeated their foe in game 7 in the other teams building by coming back from 3-1 series deificts.
They will face either the Boston Bruins or the battling Philadelphia Flyers in the conference finals. That series teeters on a 3-3 knife edge with Philadelphia verging on a hockey miracle of their own – coming back from a 0-3 series deficit.
Whatever weird stuff happens in the east, the west is shaping up to be a battle for the ages. The two top teams square off in what will be a crucial series for both Chicago and San Jose. Both have been building for sometime – Chicago made it this far last year. San Jose have looked promising for the past 10 years but have repeatedly failed to deliver. This will be a big series. Both sides are stacked with stars including a number of Olympic finalists.
The difference could well be the strength of the goaltending. Can Evgeni Nabokov finally achieve glory with the team he has failed with for several years? It’s hard to tell. I do know, without the benefit of a crystal ball is that the young guns on Chicago will be firing. The question for them is will they get support from the veterans like Marian Hossa? One thing is for sure – we wait knowing anything can happen, as this playoff year has shown emphatically.