The NHL playoff has officially arrived. All the excitement is brewing up to be something special. The action in last night’s games was fantastic. This is sure to be an incredible postseason with very few boring matchups.
After the first night of playoff hockey all of the lower seeded teams with the exception on Nashville won the first game. Two of the four games went into at least a double overtime. Three of the four games were won by only one goal. Goalies were huge. Tomas Vokoun kept his team in the game early on, while his opponent Evgeni Nabokov made key great saves late in the game. No surprise to everyone: the brilliant play of Roberto Luongo in goal and the great touch passing of Joe Thornton.
Will Sidney Crosby be able to get his team back on track?
Alexander Radulov scored two goals in last night’s playoff game. Even if he did not score he still would have been one of the stars of the game. Radulov was everywhere. It was easy to see that this young player will develop into something special.
While some critics praise Nashville coach Barry Trotz for developing him slowly, others question why Radulov was held back. Regardless of what you think, it is clear that Radulov does have talent. It appears in these playoffs that his role will be increased and he will be seeing much more ice time. Playing alongside Peter Forsberg will also help. Forsberg is a veteran who knows the game and knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Forsberg plays very physical yet he displays great touch around the net, as well as high-end offensive skills. Combined with Radulov’s sniper abilities, they could be very deadly.
Nashville could have easily caved in last night after an early San Jose lead, but they did not. They came back and made a game out of it and almost won it. It was a good character builder, but of course they would have preferred to win the first game especially at home. If Nashville, can stay out of the box and use its speed and tenacity they can cause havoc for the Sharks.
Two of the four games went past the first overtime period. It has been a while since anyone has seen a second overtime period, let alone four overtime periods (if you count the Vancouver Dallas game). The length of the game has to tire the players. Does this give other teams an advantage in the long run of the playoffs? Will future opponents be better rested and thus better off for the long playoff haul?
While four overtime periods are exciting and a win makes things well deserved, would the game be better off if decided by a shootout like the regular season? The shootout has been exciting at times. The crowds certainly like it. Some teams and players are better at it than others. The best shootout that comes to mind is the one from last season in which the 22nd shooter defensemen Marek Malik, not known for his offensive skills, scored a trick-shot goal through his legs to win it for the Rangers. It was a memorable moment, but can a playoff series or even the Stanley Cup itself really be determined by a shootout? Do not be surprised if the NHL is starting to think the same thing.