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Drama Abounds in NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Patrick Kane and the 'Hawks gun for the Cup Patrick Kane and the 'Hawks gun for the Cup

The NHL 2010 playoffs have been one of the most memorable of the modern era. With the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins both bowing out early, the Eastern Conference now features the two bottom seeds – the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers - in the finals. Out west it’s a showdown between a burgeoning dynasty and a would-be dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the San Jose Sharks.

 

The NHL’s Eastern Conference is the source of the most compelling storylines in the playoffs. In the east, the #8 seed Montreal Canadiens knocked off superstar Alexander Ovechkin and the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, by pushing the series to seven games and winning the deciding contest on the road.

Next up Montreal had to face hockey’s best player, Sidney Crosby, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canadiens, led by goaltender Jaroslav Halak, again found a way to win Game 7 on the road for a spot in the semi-finals.

Two huge upsets in a row is impressive, but Montreal’s Round 3 opponent is the equally amazing #7 seed Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers also had to pull out two upsets to get to the conference finals. The Flyers did something nearly unheard of when they overcame a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins. That’s something only two other teams have done in over 500 tries.

Driving the dagger home hard was the fact that Boston was out to a 3-0 lead in Game 7 at home as well. But just like the series, the game changed when the Flyers scored four unanswered goals to eliminate the Bruins and head to the conference finals.

Now Philadelphia finds itself in the unlikely position of being a #7 seed with home-ice advantage in Round 3.

Another part of the story is that Philly’s third string goalie, Michael Leighton, has had to step into the starting role following injuries to Ray Emery and Brian Boucher. Leighton stepped up to help the Flyers through the Boston series and earned two shutouts to start the series versus Montreal.

Over in the Western Conference, things have gone more predictably as the #1 seed San Jose Sharks take on the #2 seed Chicago Blackhawks for a trip to the finals.

The Sharks have been a great regular season team for years but have struggled to get over the playoff hump. This year may not be their year as they have run into a young and talented Chicago Blackhawks team that sits on the threshold of a dynasty.

Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith are among hockey’s best players, and all have several NHL seasons ahead of them.
The Stanley Cup picture isn’t clear just yet, but whether it’s the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, or Chicago Blackhawks sipping champaigne, the fans are the winners this year.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 06:01

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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