The NHL Playoff Recap gives you our take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there’s the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn’t get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: When the Flyers re-evaluate their goaltending situation this summer, Game 4 will provide more evidence to support drastic change. Once again, Philadelphia was let down by whomever it had in net when games most mattered; this time, it was Brian Boucher who was stung for two goals by the 1:03 mark of the opening frame and four before he was pulled in the second period. And with an actual Vezina candidate (Tim Thomas) on the other side of the arena, the Bruins were able to squeeze down on the Flyers net with solid defense and an aggressive forecheck. Of course, the Bruins were in this enviable series situation against the Flyers in the last post-season – and we all know how that turned out. But last time, Philly had a clear No. 1 in net in Michael Leighton. This year, they have three number twos.
1. Tim Thomas – He faced 38 shots and stopped all but one. Bailed Boston out of a few tense predicaments and so far is the MVP of the series.
2. Zdeno Chara – Boston’s captain scored the first goal of the game, added another in the third along with an assist and finished with a plus-4 in 28:12 of ice time.
3. David Krejci – Young center had a goal and three points, giving him four goals and eight points in his past three games.
The Black Hole
Brian Boucher – Are you surprised? Yes, Boucher cannot solely be blamed for the Flyers finding themselves on the brink of elimination. Chris Pronger wasn’t there to help him and the rest of Philly’s defense wasn’t much help, either. Unfortunately, Boucher was soft on at least two of the four he allowed. When the stakes are this high, that’s simply not acceptable. If he starts Game 4, the Flyers are more desperate than they’ve looked thus far.
THN’s Take: I guess this means we’ll be seeing the suffocating 1-3-1 defense in NHL copycat arenas everywhere next season. The vaunted Washington Capitals offense has been neutralized in stunning fashion with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Plenty of credit has to go to rookie coach Guy Boucher, who got his troops to buy-in to a frustrating defensive system that stymied Alex Ovechkin and the NHL’s most talented team of producers. For Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, this surely spells the end of his run in Washington. GM George McPhee will make some personnel changes to inject a power forward or two on the first couple of lines, but there’s no way he’ll be able to sell the same coach and the same system to the fans of Washington.
1. Sean Bergenheim – This year’s John Druce now leads the NHL in playoff scoring with seven goals. Each one of his tallies, including two in Tampa Bay’s sweep Wednesday, are a product of hard work, anticipation and gumption. And this pending UFA makes just $700,000. Who said the Lightning are just a two-line team?
2. Mattias Ohlund – The veteran Swede hasn’t received enough credit for transforming his game into a defensive stalwart – he hasn’t scored a goal in two regular seasons with the Lightning. Against the high-test Capitals, Ohlund, along with blueline mate Eric Brewer, did a remarkable job limiting the chances of Ovechkin and Co., keeping their shots mostly to the perimeter.
3. Dwayne Roloson – Would it be silly to offer the ageless Roloson a multi-year contract to stay in Tampa Bay? Maybe, but the 41-year-old has been nothing short of fabulous all series. For the first time in 10 playoff games, the Lightning weren’t outshot, meaning Roloson didn’t have to be as special. But he was sharp early when the Caps had 12 first-period shots and he never relinquished the lead.
The Black Hole
Nicklas Backstrom – Washington’s crafty Swede looked lost and confused all series. When the Capitals needed him to step it up – like a week or so ago – Backstrom just didn’t have that extra gear. It’s not so much that Backstrom didn’t want it. It’s more a case of the 23-year-old not having the capacity to raise his game to the next level in the playoffs. He had just two assists in nine post-season games. A couple of years ago, Backstrom was a playoff stud with 15 points in 14 games.
THN’s Take: When do we officially declare the San Jose Sharks’ playoff demons as dead? It’s probably too early to do that until they at least get to a Stanley Cup final, but the Sharks are showing incredible resolve and character in this year’s playoffs. Their win to give them a stranglehold in the series was their fifth in overtime of the seven total they have won in the playoffs this spring. The Red Wings, on the other hand, are having all kinds of trouble killing penalties and simply don’t seem to have enough speed and strength to keep up with the Sharks.
1. Devin Setoguchi – This one’s a no-brainer. After a guy scores a hat trick, including the overtime-winner, he’s the first star of the game. Period.
2. Henrik Zetterberg – If he had done nothing else, Zetterberg would have been a game star on the strength of the two passes he made on the Red Wings power play goals. His behind-the-legs pass to Nicklas Lidstrom and his saucer pass to Datsyuk were things of beauty.
3. Joe Thornton – ‘Jumbo Joe’ had an assist on all three of Setoguchi’s goals, but his best one was on the overtime-winner when he used his size and speed to control the puck before making a great pass.
The Black Hole
Jonathan Ericsson – Yeah, we know Kyle Wellwood is enjoying a spectacular playoff season for the Sharks, but getting outmuscled by him down low while protecting a one-goal lead late in the third period is still inexcusable.
The NHL Game Night Recap will get you caught up with all the playoff action. THN will name our Three Stars for each game and tabulate the results after each series. First Star = three points, Second Star = two points, Third Star = one point.