The Sentinel Recaps the Stanley Cup Playoffs

[In this series, the Sentinel’s sports journalist and resident Canadian, Robert Powis ’14, recaps the triumphs, tragedies, and somewhat Byzantine progress of the Stanley Cup playoffs – Ed.]

The first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs ended Monday night with a blowout 5-0 victory by the New York Rangers over the Washington Capitals and a exhilarating 5-4 overtime come from behind victory for the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The first round gave us many memorable moments like surprise players rising to the occasion and leading their team to victory, upsets by lower seeds over higher ranked seeds, and dominant performances by some of the worlds best players.
 
Surprise Heroes from the Conference Quarter Final:
 
Derick Brassard (New York Rangers): At the beginning of the 4th series in the last 5 years between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers, nobody could have predicted that third line center Derick Brassard would be the leading scorer. The trade deadline acquisition from Columbus led the Rangers with 9 points in 7 games. By the end of the series, coach John Tortorella was putting Brassard out for the most important moments in the game whether it was protecting a lead or trying to tie the game. The Rangers power play was abysmal in the first round only scoring on 2 of their 28 tries. Brassard scored one of the power play goals and made a beautiful pass to set up the other one. After a very impressive first round, the Rangers will certainly look to Brassard to lead them in their next matchup against the Boston Bruins.
 
David Krejci (Boston Bruins): While this might not have come as a surprise for die hard Bruins fans who had seen him become an all star center over the course of his career, the rest of the league was shocked when he scored 13 points in 7 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. In game 4 of the series, Krejci stunned the Maple Leaf faithful in Toronto with an hat trick capped off with the overtime game winning goal. Without the strong play of Krejci and his linemates throughout the opening round series, Boston would have been without 11 of their 22 goals they needed to defeat the Leafs. The Leafs could not find a way to shut down Krejci, which led to their defeat in 7 games. Krejci will face a tougher defensive group next round in the Rangers and it will be interesting to see how he handles tougher competition.
 
Upsets in the Conference Quarter Final:
 
Ottawa (7th Seed) over Montreal (2nd seed): If you can say you saw the Ottawa Senators defeating the Montreal Canadiens in such a lopsided series you are probably lying. After completing an impressive bounce back season from finishing last in the eastern conference to 2nd, the Montreal Canadians looked to win their first playoff series since their miracle run in the 2010 playoffs. The Ottawa Senators had other plans. After splitting the opening two games in Montreal, Ottawa came home and won a pair of games outscoring the Canadians 9-3 in the process. The combination of getting scoring from depth players and fantastic play by their goalie Craig Anderson, Ottawa was able to topple their Canadian rivals in only 5 games.

San Jose (6th Seed) over Vancouver (3rd Seed): After an embarrassing loss in the opening round to the 8th seed Los Angeles Kings last season, the Vancouver Canucks thought they had learned their lesson about taking lower seeds seriously; they hadn’t. San Jose won, and will go on to face their California rivals and current Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. San Jose swept the Canucks in 4 games forcing the Vancouver fan base to go from supporting their team with all their heart to wanting to start another riot like they did after the 2011 Stanley Cup loss. San Jose controlled play for most of the series and was never in any serious danger of losing control. It will be interesting next season to see how the Canucks respond to another disappointing early playoff exit, and how the Sharks do against a streaking Kings team.
 
New York Rangers (6th Seed) over Washington (3rd Seed): The Rangers entered the shortened 2013 season as Stanley Cup favorites, but that changed soon after the season started. The Rangers quickly dropped in the standings and spent the entire season hovering around the bottom playoff spot before a late season push to secure the 7 seed. The Capitals also had a terrible start to the season, as they were last place in the league halfway through the season. Ovechkin started to score again, and Washington took advantage of playing in the worst division in hockey and they were able to climb back into 3rd place. The Rangers winning might not have been considered an upset in most peoples book because the capitals only had 1 more point than the rangers, but nevertheless it was an awesome series.
 
Three Stars of the Conference Quarter Final:
 
Henrik Lundqvist: Single handedly stole the series for the rangers with back-to-back shutouts in games 6 and 7 when the Rangers faced elimination.
David Krejci: Was an unstoppable force in his series against Toronto and helped to get his line mates out of their scoring slumps to eliminate the leafs. His line provided half of the teams goals. 
Joe Pavelski (or maybe Logan Couture): These two young guns teamed up to sweep deep and experience Vancouver Canucks team. In only 4 games they managed to rack up 8 points each.
  
Predictions for the Conference Semi-Finals:
 
Chicago (1st Seed) over Detroit (7th Seed) in 6 games: I like Detroit a lot, but I just don’t see any way they can match the depth of the Blackhawks and win a best of 7 series.
Los Angeles (5th Seed) over San Jose(6th Seed) in 6 games: After dropping their first two games of the playoffs, Los Angeles re-found their form that won them the cup last season and I just don’t see San Jose being able to hold off the relentless forecheck of the Kings.

Ottawa (7th Seed) over Pittsburg (1st Seed) in 7 games: Pittsburg has traded for enough superstars that they could probably play and beat an all-star team assembled from the remaining players in the league, but after a rude awakening against the Islanders in the first round there is doubt in the penguins locker room. The Senators are a tougher, more experienced, and better defensive team than the Islanders were and I think that the Penguins will have their hands full in this series.
New York Rangers (6th Seed) over Boston (4th Seed) in 6 games: After shutting down arguably the hottest team entering the playoffs in 7 games, the Rangers must feel pretty good about what they can do. The Bruins almost blew a 3-1 series lead against the Leafs who hadn’t been in the playoffs since 2004. If Henrik Lundqvist continues to steal games for the Rangers like he did against the Capitals, I don’t see any way that the Bruins can win this series.
 
That was just what I took away from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and what I think will happen next. Disagree with me? To bad! I’m the one writing the article. If you raise a good point I will include you in my recap of the Conference Semi Finals along with other hockey fans opinions of the Second Round action.

Posted by on May 14, 2013. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry