1) Is That All You Get For Your Money (BUF-NYI)
Result: Sabres in Five
Bizzometer: Never in doubt
Comments: Guys, you know I love you. But please never do that again. There was a whole period of Game 2 I didn’t recognize you. That game was so bad I ended up in a karaoke bar. Never, EVER give the impression you’re taking this for granted. Miller has a Ouiji board and is channeling ’98 Hasek. Two cheers to Ted and Miroslav for making it a fight.
2) Swamp Monsters (NJ-TB)
Result: Devils in Six
Bizzometer: On point
Comments: Jersey’s a beast. You could track the flow of this series by when their offense decided to show up, and when they took a breather. Tampa was only ever going to get as many points as they did. May Ottawa take many bruises against this wall.
3) William Tecumseh (NYR-ATL)
Result: Rangers Sweep
Comments: 7-0 doesn’t happen in an NHL playoff game. It just. Does. Not. Atlanta this series will play for years as the textbook in fuckuppery. No defensive coordination, no heart at all, no confidence in goal … had these guys ever played together before? Can we please fold up the Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix and Raleigh franchises now? Well probably not that last … but a guy can dream.
4) Ed Norton’s Hiring (OTT-PIT)
Result: Senators in Five
Bizzometer: A palpable hit
Comments: What is there to say? In Round 2 they’ll have a game on their hands.
1) Deep Burning (A Bunch of Identical Uniforms)
Result: Detroit in six.
Bizzometer: Dead on target.
Comments: What the hell is wrong with the West? Each one of these series has a highlight reel of pointless elimination-suspension hits. This one featured the most ridiclous. Did someone on each team kill someone else’s father? I’m amazed no one called a “Switchblade on the Ice” Major. Detroit’s got enough age and injuries already — they can’t afford this drama. Disney might make them pay for it in the third round.
2) It Wasn’t Me! (ANH-MIN)
Result: Ducks in five
Bizzometer: No, it’s reading right man! Look!
Comments: This was maybe the most lopsided match in the round. It’s heroic they took one. Another series marked by POINTLESS, ugly cheap shots. It’s possible any team should be fined just for allowing Brad May on the ice. When was the last time he pretended to be a hockey player? His contract stipulates you keep him in a pit of fresh earth, chain him to the ground, and toss in at least three live weasels a day. Man missed his true calling.
3) And So It Is Written (DAL-VAN)
Result: Canucks in Seven
Comments: Nice series, actually. Gorgeous goaltending on both sides, and a lot of cinematic momentum shifts. Last game was ugly, but in a good way. I hope that plane ride is REAL long.
4) It Jumped Up A Notch (SJ-NVP)
Result: Sharks in Five
Bizzometer: Close enough for horseshoes.
Comments: Well … half of what we saw was the fast, athletic series we were promised by this lot. The other half was right out of West Side Story. First series … and by the second game we have FOUR PLAYERS suspended or eliminated with injuries? And both of these teams were pegged as Cup contenders. What a waste of talent.
Look, I’m not a purist. Back to Dallas-Vancouver … all those penalties in Game 7 came from battling for inches. Fast-paced, passionate, close play produces hooks, trips, broken sticks and exhausted players. It’s also beautiful hockey. And hell, with this sport’s WWE-levels of backstory, fights, line-brawls and score-settling all have their place.
But what happened in the West this round was different. This was assassination play. Vicious hits by no-name thugs and backup players targeting star forwards. And then fights which are little more than excuses to tire out and intimidate the skill play on the other side. There’s almost nothing worse for the sport in the long run. It ruins careers, it turns games into slow, bloody tangles, and it sabotages the quality of series to follow.
Hell, I can’t even claim schadenfreude. If we actually make the Final, and whatever team limps out of the West has a good chunk of its first line in traction … it’s a no-win. Victory means the “East is weak” meme gains traction, and the Sabres look like vultures blessed with easy opposition. A loss would be even worse. The whole quality of a game is undermined. Assassination is an own goal against the entire sport.
In the second round, there will be much more physical play in the East. The matchups are even, and everyone will be looking for an edge. Here’s hoping it stays on the quality side of the line.