There’s an old saying that goes, Â“If you don’t learn from the NHL playoffs, you’re doomed to miss the post-season next year.Â”
Or something like that.
So, with, self-improvement in mind, here are a few things we’ve learned from the first few weeks of the 2006-07 NHL playoffs:
Â…that Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo is the best goaltender in the world. (And, that backup Dany Sabourin is pretty good when he gets a chance, too.)
Â…that even Martin Brodeur, the Past President of the-best-goaltender-in-the world club, surrenders a bad goal now and then. Especially, it seems, if it’s a shot from the right corner down along the goal line.
Â…that Lou Lamoriello isn’t merely the Devils’ head coach and GM. He’s also the team president. And the CEO. And, if Brodeur goes down with an injury, it won’t be backup goalie Scott Clemmensen going into the game. No way. It’ll be Lou.
Â…that 42-year-old Dominik Hasek and 45-year-old Chris Chelios should stay on the job until they’re 65, like the rest of us working stiffs.
Â…that Daniel Alfredsson can flatten Gary Roberts with a bodycheck.
Â…that it’s OK to push the opposing goalie into his net, because the refs probably won’t call it and the goal will stand. So far, this is the signature play of the ’07 playoffs.
Â…that Brian Gionta is the best goal-scorer you never hear about it. Unless it’s Zach Parise. The Devils teammates are leading the post-season’s Cy Young race, too: Gionta is 8-1, Parise is 7-2. The Rangers’ Brendan Shanahan, with five goals in eight games, is in the running at 5-1.
Â…that Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza and Jaromir Jagr are spectacular talents. Did we always know this? Yes. Did we always see proof of it in the playoffs? No.
Â…that the Ducks have nine players averaging 20-plus minutes of ice time per playoff game. Meantime, seven other Ducks are seeing less than 10 minutes per game, including a few down around two or three minutes a night. Defenseman Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin all are up at 30 minutes (remember, ice times are inflated in the playoffs due to overtime).
Â…that netminder Marty Turco isn’t the problem in Dallas. He can’t be, not with three shutouts and a 1.30 GAA in the first round loss to Vancouver.
Â…that Buffalo defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Tony Lydman are the best shutdown guys that rarely get any credit. And Brian Campbell deserves a couple more kudos, too.
Â…that 20-year-old San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic still is surprising people with his skill level and maturity. He’s handled everything that has been thrown at him in his NHL rookie season and always with a cool air of confidence. No pickle jokes here.
Â…that the Predators are sticking with the coaching staff that has taken them this far. Barry Trotz and Nashville’s assistants were re-signed through the 2007-08 season. But if the bench men want to come back in 2008-09, the Preds need to win a round or three in the ’08 post-season.
Â…that Ryane Clowe, San Jose’s late-blooming power forward, has that soft hands/hard fists combination that’s rarer than a Blackhawks playoff game.
Â…that we’ve already seen the best of Todd Bertuzzi. And Markus Naslund. (And maybe Tomas Vokoun, too, although he has nothing to do with old Canuck linemates.)
Â…that New Jersey and Detroit can just plug in players and the culture of winning that has been bred in both teams’ dressing rooms will prevail. At least for a round or two.
Â…Forget marching. This spring, we learned that Penguins can fly. (It was just too bad for Pittsburgh that Senators can, too.)