Some first-round highlights, from the NHL:
WILD COMEBACKS, OVERTIMES, GAME 7 DRAMA HIGHLIGHT
EXCITING AND UNPREDICTABLE OPENING ROUND
NEW YORK (April 28, 2011) – Fifteen days, 14 overtimes and several dramatic comebacks and nail-biting finishes later, the 16 teams that began the post-season quest for the Stanley Cup have been narrowed to eight. Here are some highlights from an exciting and unpredictable Conference Quarter-Final round:
EXCITING AND UNPREDICTABLE
* The four Game 7s were the most in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1995.
* Each of the final nine days of the first round featured an overtime game, an unprecedented streak. There were 12 OTs in that span.
* The 14 total overtimes were the most since the record 15 in 2001.
* The 49 total games matched the most ever in the first round.
* There were two Game 7 overtimes, tying the pair in 1997 as the most ever in the first round.
* Seven of the eight series had a game decided in overtime.
* Three of the eight series ended with an overtime goal.
* Road teams posted a winning record (26-23), one victory short of the most ever in the first round.
* Following a 2010 first round in which each of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference were toppled, the top three seeds in both the East and West survived the first round for the first time since 1996.
HISTORY WAS MADE
* The Boston Bruins came back from an 0-2 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history. The Bruins also became the first team in playoff history to win a seven-game series without tallying a power-play goal (0/21).
* The Chicago Blackhawks forced a Game 7 after trailing the series 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.
* The Detroit Red Wings reached the final eight for the 13th time in the past 16 seasons.
* The Nashville Predators won the first playoff series in franchise history.
* The Philadelphia Flyers became the first team since 1988 to win a playoff series with three starting goaltenders.
* The San Jose Sharks became the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff game they trailed by four goals (Apr. 19 at Los Angeles).
* The Tampa Bay Lightning came back from a 1-3 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history.
* The Vancouver Canucks became the fourth team in NHL history and the first since 1975 to win a playoff series after winning the first three games and losing the next three.
* The Washington Capitals became the first team in nine years to win a playoff game after trailing by three goals in the third period (Apr. 20 at NY Rangers).
Not Too Small
The top three scorers in the first round were Michael Cammalleri of the Montreal Canadiens (3-7-10 in seven games), Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning (1-8-9 in seven games) and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers (4-4-8 in seven games). The average height and weight of this trio is 5-9, 177 lbs.
Michael Cammalleri (Montreal): 5-9, 182
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): 5-8, 176
Claude Giroux (Philadelphia): 5-11, 172
Not Too Old
41-year-old Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson backstopped the Lightning to their series win over Pittsburgh by posting a 1.77 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.
43-year-old Boston right wing Mark Recchi tallied four points, including a crucial goal in Game 7, and a +4 rating in the Bruins’ seven-game series win over Montreal.
Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who is celebrating his 41st birthday today, tallied a pair of assists and a +3 rating in the Red Wings’ four-game sweep over Phoenix. Lidstrom has appeared in 251 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, second on the all-time list behind Chris Chelios (266).
Anaheim right wing Teemu Selanne, 40, shared the League goal-scoring lead in the first round, tallying six in the Ducks’ six-game series loss to Nashville.
Not Too Inexperienced
Boston right wing Nathan Horton entered the Bruins’ showdown against Montreal with 502 career regular-season appearances, the most among all players making their playoff debut. Horton became only the third player in the past decade to score two overtime goals in the same series, winning Games 5 and 7.
Rookie Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who excelled in a pair of deep playoff runs in the American Hockey League but had no previous NHL playoff experience, led all goaltenders in goals-against average (1.38) and ranked second in save percentage (.946) as the Capitals eliminated the New York Rangers in five games.
Chicago rookie goaltender Corey Crawford, whose previous Stanley Cup Playoff experience was in a brief mop-up role two years ago, sparkled for the Blackhawks in their seven-game series loss to Vancouver, posting a 2.21 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, a late-season call-up from the AHL, entered the playoffs with just 15 career NHL regular-season appearances but led all defensemen in scoring during the first round with seven points (one goal, six assists).
NEW STANLEY CUP ODDS:
Courtesy of Bodog, www.Bodog.com.
Odds to win the 2011 Stanley Cup
Vancouver Canucks 11/4
Washington Capitals 4/1
San Jose Sharks 5/1
Detroit Red Wings 11/2
Boston Bruins 8/1
Philadelphia Flyers 8/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 12/1
Nashville Predators 14/1
Odds to win the 2011 Eastern Conference
Washington Capitals 7/5
Philadelphia Flyers 7/2
Boston Bruins 11/4
Tampa Bay Lightning 9/2
Odds to win the 2011 Western Conference
Vancouver Canucks 7/5
San Jose Sharks 5/2
Detroit Red Wings 5/2
Nashville Predators 7/1
What will be the Matchup in the Stanley Cup Final?
Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks 9/2
Washington Capitals vs. San Jose Sharks 6/1
Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings 13/2
Washington Capitals vs. Nashville Predators 17/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vancouver Canucks 10/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. San Jose Sharks 13/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings 14/1
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Nashville Predators 35/1
Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks 9/1
Boston Bruins vs. San Jose Sharks 12/1
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings 13/1
Boston Bruins vs. Nashville Predators 30/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vancouver Canucks 12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. San Jose Sharks 16/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings 18/1
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators 42/1