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Pittsburgh, PA • United States • 48 Years Old • Male

Who Will Raise Their Game?

Posted 10:05 AM ET | Comments 5
Three of the four remaining playoff series are currently sitting at 2 games to none.

Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington all find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having the NONE part of the expression.

Judging by the way the playoffs have gone so far, none of these teams should be counted out simply because they are down by a couple of games. We have already seen the Blackhawks come back from 3-0 to force a game seven overtime (loss) and the Lightning come back from 3 games to 1 to defeat the Penguins (yeah...that's still sinking in I think).

Even so, all of these teams will have to find a way to step up their games if the don't want to face elimination games in the next few days.

Each of these teams has very interesting "recent" playoff histories that make me think at least one of them, if not all three, will win game 3 of their series.

In Detroit, we have the storied Red Wings franchise that has won more Stanley Cups than any other American team (3rd most of ALL teams). They are only a couple of years removed from being the cup champion and they have a history of being tough to beat in the playoffs.

The Wings return home for 2 games against the Sharks and you get the feeling they are due for one of those, "these are the Red Wings" moments. They had one of those in game 4 last year winning 7-1 (trailing 3 games to 0) ...but it was just too late to turn things around.

You get the impression if the Wings can find a way to win game 3, like they did game 4 last year, this series can take on a whole new look.

The questions:
Can the Wings keep up with the younger and arguably deeper Sharks team?
Can Jimmy Howard continue to play stellar goal long enough for his team to figure out a way to get back into this series?

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In Philadelphia the Flyers find themselves in a similar position as last year. The Bruins are up 2-0 (last year they went up 3-0) with the series heading back to Boston (last year the Flyers were coming home for games 3 and 4). The Flyers definitely raised their game last night (game 2), but Tim Thomas was superb making 52 saves, including 42 (without a goal) from the second period on and the Bruins won in OT.

Still, the Flyers managed to overcome a similar deficit last year and advance to the Cup Finals.

The questions:
Can Philly do it again?
Will their goaltending be good enough to allow them a chance? ...OR...Are the Bruins simply destined to erase the nightmare of last year's playoff series?

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Perhaps the most interesting storyline is that of the Washington/Tampa Bay series.

Tampa Bay has taken on the persona of the 2010 Montreal Canadiens in their series against the Caps.

Watching game two, I could have sworn the Habs had simply put on Bolts uniforms and snuck into the Verizon Centre. With Dwayne Rolosson doing his best Jaroslav Halak and the rest of the Bolts getting the most out of their few scoring chances, the Capitals have to be feeling a sense of Deja Vu right about now.

It may be too early to call this a "defining moment" in Alex Ovechkin's career...but then again maybe not.

With all the focus the Caps put on becoming a better defensive team (which clearly they are) and the same focus that Ovechkin put on that aspect of his game, all under the assumption that it was needed to be a playoff winner, the Caps and Ovie are now under a ton of pressure to turn this series around.

The questions:
Can the Bolts continue to stifle the Caps offense? It was one thing to stop the offensively challenged Penguins, but keeping the Caps under wraps is going to be a lot tougher.
Can Rolli the Goalie, at 41, keep up this incredible pace?
Will the Caps deviate from the defensive plan and try to outrun and outgun the Lightning (have they already tried it?)?

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I don't have a crystal ball...but I sure wish I did.


My thoughts are that the Wings just can't beat the Sharks. Sure, they may win a game or two, but the Sharks are just too much for the Wings. They are too young and too deep.


I think the Flyers MUST win game 3 of their series. I don't think there's any way they repeat the 0-3 turnaround again. They played well enough to win game 2. A repeat performance is necessary in game 3, with hopes that Tim Thomas is not up to the task again. If they get a win in game 3, I think the series goes 7 and the Flyers win again.


With TB and Washington I am on the fence. I thought Ovie played a good game the other night and obviously scored a clutch goal to send it to OT. The problem I see is that with each passing rope a dope shift, the Lightning gain more confidence in their system and their ability to win with it.

The Capitals must break through in game 3 and get a win somehow. They have enough skilled players...enough grinders...enough goaltending...they just need to put it all together and put a dent in the Tampa Bay 1-3-1 armor.



What say you?





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III
Filed Under:   caps   bolts   flyers   habs   bruins   sharks   wings   detroit   philly  
May 4, 2011 8:49 AM ET | Delete
Well, the Caps looked to be cooked. This is really the biggest surprise to me. I really thought they would push through to at least the conference finals this year. Although I don't necessarily agree with Garth that often, he's hit the nail on the head when he said Semin and Backstrom don't work hard enough. I think Backstrom might be hurt...Semin on the other hand, I just don't think he gets it.
May 4, 2011 9:16 AM ET | Delete
I'm shocked with the outcome of this series so far...and i really beleive Backstrom and Semin are soft. There better suited for the European game.
May 4, 2011 10:10 AM ET | Delete
Semin is soft, but Backstrom has shown the ability to go into the corners and get a little dirty in the past few seasons. He's either injured or disinterested -- hopefully he is injured.
May 4, 2011 3:46 PM ET | Delete
Do you think boudreau will lose his job if the caps lose tonight
May 5, 2011 9:05 AM ET | Delete
yes...
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