First of all, I was just imagining what our beards might look like by now, had the Rangers, you know, won the skills competition in Philly, gotten the No. 8 seed and done to Washington what Montreal just did.
But the Festivus/Paul Mara Memorial Playoff Beard Extravaganza and Picnic had to be scrapped in favor of the Olli Jokinen Five-Hole/Beat the Blogfather Extravaganza and Picnic. Well, Yours Truly went 6-2, missing out on the Capitals and the Devils.
So, who won?
I am counting on you Boneheads to tally up your own scores for the first round and tell me (I will go back and check the winning claim or claims, so don’t pull any carcillo). Did anybody go 8 f0r 8 (yeah, right). OK, did anybody go 7 for 8? Let me know today, asap.
Winner gets a copy of the book “100 Ranger Greats” as promised.
As you know by now, the Habs became the first No.8 seed to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series … ever. Don’t know if you also know this: 22 times teams have come back from 3-1 to win playoff series, and the Capitals have been involved in six of those now, winning two (including last spring’s Mara Beard Extravaganza ender) and being eliminated four times by blowing leads of 3-1.
So, who’s happiest today? Montreal fans? The Penguins? The Orioles? Who’s saddest? NHL HQ, Versus, NBC?
Another point that crossed my peabrain last night was the “elite goalie” theory. So far, Brian Boucher (who beat Henrik Lundqvist in Game 82 and the skills competition) has defeated Martin Brodeur; the Rask kid in Boston beat Ryan Miller; and Jaroslav Halak, who wasn’t even the No. 1 goalie on his team, shut down the Presidents’ Trophy winning, highest-scoring team in the NHL.
The West semifinals begin — already! — tonight. Those ought to be wars.
Some interesting first-round notes courtesy of the NHL:
* Road teams won 27 games (27-22), the most ever in the first round. Three series tied the NHL playoff record for most road wins (five, Montreal vs. Washington; Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa and Detroit vs. Phoenix). The Boston Bruins were the only of the eight advancing clubs to clinch the series on home ice.
* There were comebacks galore: the winning team in 24 of the 49 games trailed at some point in the contest. Five teams won after trailing by two or more goals. A club trailing in the third period came back to win nine times.
* Teams combined to score an average of 5.90 goals per game, the highest for an opening round since 1996 and a 36% increase over 2004 (4.34), the last playoff year before the adoption of several rule changes designed to limit obstruction. The first-round scoring average also topped that of the 2009-10 regular season (5.53), marking the first time that’s happened since 1994-95.
* Twelve of the 49 games were decided in overtime, the most in opening-round play since 2001 (14). Seven of the eight series had at least one game extend to overtime.
* Scoring the game’s first goal wasn’t as much an advantage as advertised. The teams scoring first lost five of the six games in the Vancouver Canucks-Los Angeles Kings series (VAN 1-2, LA 0-3). The Buffalo Sabres opened the scoring five times against the Boston Bruins, but went 2-3 in those games.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 12:26 P.M.: Hart Trophy (MVP) finalists also happen to be the top three scorers in the NHL this season: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin. See the NHL.com story here.