We take you for a moment from your regularly scheduled face wash and ridiculous after-the-whistle scrum for the first installment of What We’ve Learned So Far In The Playoffs:
• Forget about the likes of Nietzsche, Aristotle, Bacon or Plato; hockey players are top-notch philosophers at this time of year. Consider Josh Gorges of the Montreal Canadiens, who said: “We feel as long as there’s an opportunity, there’s a chance.” Very, very difficult to argue with that logic. Or Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals: “To win a series, you have to win four games.”
• Apparently, 5-foot-9, 170-pound undrafted 26-year-old graduates of the Motor City Mechanics who are also natives of Alabama can play in the playoffs.
• However, there’s something about the post-season that doesn’t exactly bring out the best in 6-foot-4, 235-pound superstars who are No. 1 overall draft picks from St. Thomas, Ont., and 6-foot-2, 220-pound captains who are second overall picks from Aneroid, Sask.
• Unless the San Jose Sharks start moving their feet and taking advantage of their superior speed and skill, they’re going to be cooling their heels in the next couple of days.
• Scott Niedermayer isn’t anywhere close to being done at 35. He’s playing so well, it was almost worth enduring how he jerked the Anaheim Ducks around while still under contract two years ago.
• On the flip side, it’s clear Mats Sundin is done. His tragic hip is bothering him in a big way and if it wasn’t clear by the fact he missed Game 3, it was when you watched him labor around the ice in Game 1. So ends a great career. Not a Hall of Fame career, but a great career nonetheless.
• Never, ever, ever doubt Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland. Prior to the playoffs, Holland could have sacrificed one of his young prospects to get proven goaltending help in the playoffs. If you remember, that was right around the time Chris Osgood was doing a spectacular job of avoiding getting hit by pucks. Holland argued at the time that Osgood had the best playoff pedigree of any goalie out there and insisted he would tie his team’s playoff fortunes to Osgood’s ability to rebound once the post-season began. It has only been two games, but it’s hard to fathom that Osgood will fall completely apart at this stage.
• Speaking of the Red Wings, they continue to prove you don’t have to be the Broad Street Bullies reincarnated to have a team that is capable of playing tough, physical hockey and doing it within the confines of the NHL rulebook.
• Mike Keenan is one of the game’s all-time greatest coaches, but he really should have his team practise its power play once in a while.
• There appears to be a reason why Olli Jokinen played 799 career NHL games before appearing in his first playoff game.
• If the NHL decided to wait until after the playoffs to conduct its voting for the post-season awards, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks would have received a lot more votes and Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets would have received a lot fewer for the Calder Trophy.
• Sean Avery makes you want to slap him upside the head, but he really is a difference-maker in big games.
• When I close my eyes and listen to Andy Murray speak, I feel as though I’m listening to Elmer Fudd.
• Somewhere, Ron Wilson is chuckling to himself.
• Alex Ovechkin could break the record for shots on goal in a playoff series, but unless his shot selection gets a little more discriminating, he’s going to continue to be frustrated against the New York Rangers. Instead of dishing off the puck, he’s taking way too many shots from places where it’s almost impossible to score on Henrik Lundqvist. He has 19 shots in the series, but another 17 have been blocked before they’ve hit the net.
• Perhaps the fighting apologists have it right. The players must police the game because the league is unable to do so itself. How Mike Komisarek could gouge Matt Hunwick’s eye at the end of Game 1 and not receive any supplementary discipline boggles the mind.
• The Montreal Canadiens, bastions of class and dignity for 100 years of their existence, can drag their knuckles with the best of them.
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Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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