Hogging time at last

by Michael Bérubé on April 11, 2007

“Hogging” is a very special kind of blogging, in which I blather on about hockey at great length. How great? Well, let’s find out—but let’s keep it below the fold, out of consideration for the feelings of people who couldn’t care less:


Eastern Conference Playoffs


(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (8) New York Islanders. It was nice that the Islanders made the playoffs, even if they had to squeeze out the Canadiens and Maple Leafs to do it. I was kind of rooting for my ancestral Habitants, actually, partly because I have so few opportunities to practice identity politics, but I have very limited sympathies with teams, even French-Canadian teams, that blow late two-goal leads by taking a succession of stupid penalties in decisive games. And even though the Leafs are no longer coached by the thuggish Pat Quinn, whose playoff strategy consisted chiefly of telling his forwards to administer career-ending injuries to other teams’ stars, I think it will take another few years for the Quinnical stench to wear off in Toronto. So two cheers for the Isles, whose route to the playoffs was even stranger than the final weekend’s histrionics indicate: they picked up Ryan Smyth from Edmonton at the trading deadline (for those of you who don’t follow the sport, Ryan Smyth is one of those throwback “franchise” players who truly wanted to spend his entire career with the Oilers franchise, and the good people of Edmonton mourned his Islanderification in a collective threnody that recalled the departures of Gretzky and Messier), and just as they were poised to move up in the standings, they started to tank. Then their Chris Simon tried to decapitate the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg, and drew a penalty that cost his team the game, along with a suspension for the rest of the year; almost apologetically, the Islanders proceeded to lose eight of their next eleven. Then, when their terrific young goaltender Rick DiPietro got injured, it was clear that the Islanders were done: by that point, they were reduced to playing an obscure backup goalie named Wade Dubielewicz—which, I realize, sounds only slightly less likely than “the Rolling Stones then decided to replace Mick Taylor with Wade Dubielewicz.” And guess what? They proceeded to win their final four games.


Dubielewicz, for his part, has played extremely well, and has made something of a name for himself by creatively poke-checking opposing forwards in shootouts. Nonetheless, the Islanders will not hang around for long. I would explain why, by saying something or other about the Sabres’ windburn-inducing speed, relentless eight-scoring-forwards attack, solid goaltending and underrated defense, but I have already grown weary of the misguided complaints of the Sabre-Rattling Left in these comment sections. Sabres in five.


(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin Brodeur is one of the greatest netminders ever to play the game, a truly formidable figure—so formidable that last year, he made me forget that I’d picked the Carolina Hurricanes to go to the conference finals, and persuaded me to take the Devils over the Canes in the second round. (That was a mistake: the Devils barely lasted five games.) And this year, Brodeur won 48 games all by himself—an NHL record, and more wins than twenty other teams managed to compile.


Because goaltending is so critical in the playoffs, it’s tempting to think that Marty can hoist the Devils into the second round by sheer force of will. I am doing my best to avoid that temptation. The Lightning have an untested goaltender in Johan Holmqvist, and an offense that consists basically of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, two insanely talented players who somehow manage to combine amazing upper-body strength with great speed and miraculous hand-eye coordination. Yes, I know they have two or three other noteworthy forwards (Richards, Prospal, Fedetenko) as well as a remarkable defenseman in Dan Boyle, but seriously—you could put me on a line with St. Louis and Lecavalier and I’d score thirty goals. (OK, maybe not. But I did wind up with 39 goals in 24 games in my local leagues—9 goals in 10 games in the A league, 30 in 14 in B. Not that you asked.) The Devils counter with a disciplined defense and an offense made up of five tiny guys who are fast and pesky. 22-year-old Zach Parise is especially dangerous. Still, I think it’s downright weird that only three Devils forwards are in plus numbers for the year, and two of those are at +1. And I think that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello needs to be punished by the Fates for trying to repeat his mind-bending stunt of 2000 by firing a successful coach just before the start of the playoffs. The Devils are a wonderful franchise, and I hope they like their new digs in Newark next year. But the Cult of Lamoriello has to end. Now. Unless Holmqvist melts down—and that’s entirely possible—I say Lightning in six.


(3) Atlanta Thrashers vs. (6) New York Rangers. Now we get to one of my two rooting interests. I have nothing against Atlanta or their fierce hockey-stick-wielding state bird, but I grew up with the Rangers. I went to every Rangers home game from 1970 to 1973, when I was not yet in my teens and the green mezzanine seats were still five bucks a pop. I went to Rangers summer hockey camp on Long Island from 1970 to 1972, spoke halting French to Rod Gilbert, got teased and poke-checked by Brad Park, and was personally told to stop scoring and pass the damn puck by Gilles Villemure. You don’t forget loyalties like that just because you don’t have any specific animus against the Other Guys.


As for the Other Guys: their offense goes like this. There’s Marian Hossa, scary good (43 goals, 57 assists). Slava Kozlov, fearsome good (28 goals, 52 assists), and hot young thing Ilya Kovalchuk (42 goals, 34 assists). The next guy in the Thrashers’ scoring table has half Kovalchuk’s point total and is almost as old as I am. Yes, they picked up Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik late in the year, but (and I know these words will come back to haunt me) I followed Tkachuk during his days in St. Louis, and I’m not that impressed. (I was afraid, actually, that the Rangers would bid for him, and pay dearly, and proceed to finish eleventh.) I think the Rangers match up quite well against these Other Guys offensively, and now that sparkplug and borderline-sociopath Sean Avery has brought some intensity to the forecheck and Brendan Shanahan has recovered from his skull-cracking mid-February collision with the Flyers’ Mike Knuble, the Rangers finally have two serious scoring lines.


The problem with the Rangers, as every schoolboy knows, is that they have these weird collective lapses in which they cough up two- and three-goal leads. I still don’t why that is, and as I used to say on my old blog, I am loath to psychoanalyze people at great distances because I believe that only Charles Krauthammer possesses that power. They’re not as defensively shaky as the Rangers teams of recent years, and their run of gritty 2-1 wins down the stretch suggests that they know how to close ranks and play a tight game (they went 10-2-3 in March, and six of those wins were 2-1; they also added two shutouts). Henrik Lundqvist has been sharp in goal, Michael Nylander is having a career year, and second-stringers like Ryan Callahan and Matt Cullen are playing with intensity and smarts. The Rangers aren’t in the Sabres’ class, of course. I don’t think they’re in the Senators’ or Penguins’ class, either. But it would be nice to see them try to play against one of those teams in round two, all the same. Rangers in six.


(4) Ottawa Senators vs. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins. This one is going to hurt, because both these teams deserve to advance. The Sens are looking to avenge a long series of playoff disappointments, including last year’s, when they were stunned by the upstart “hey, there’s still fifteen seconds left, we can tie this thing” Sabres. The Pens are feeling a bit giddy that they are suddenly among the Eastern elite after some very dry years (like last year, when they went 22-46-14 and finished dead last in the East)—especially since their rise to elite status took place entirely in the second half of the season, as the kids began to mature, the second-stringers began to gain some confidence, and the team began to take shape.


I took Jamie to two Penguins games this year. The first one, on October 14, turned out to be one of their worst performances all season, a 5-1 loss to Carolina. They were listless and directionless and Evgeni Malkinless. Sidney Crosby couldn’t carry the team by himself, and the role players hadn’t discovered their roles yet. The second one, on March 4, was vintage Late Penguins: down at home to the Flyers, 2-0 (Fleury had let in a fluke goal from 50 feet, sucking most of the air from the building), they came back to win in a thrilling 4-3 shootout. The turning point of the Pens’ year, of course, was the 14-0-2 run they put together from January 13 to February 18; but they finished the year on a 11-3-1 run as well, and most encouragingly, they seem to have weaned themselves from the desire to win in shootouts, because just as there isn’t any crying in baseball, there aren’t any shootouts in the playoffs.


Things to like about the Pens: they’re always exciting. It doesn’t matter whether they’re up three goals in the third or down three; they’ll find a way to make it close. Indeed, one of their more impressive wins involved pwning Ottawa on March 6—by scoring three goals in three minutes to erase a 4-1 deficit. In the third period. In Ottawa. And then, what else, winning in the shootout. They have one of the Best Players Evah in 19-year-old Crosby, who this year became the youngest player to lead the league in scoring (beating the record set by that Gretzky fellow); together with Evgeni Malkin (20) and Jordan Staal (18), Crosby is one of the Penguins who can single-handedly outfox some of the best teams in professional hockey but who cannot buy himself a beer afterwards. The Revolutionary Youth Brigade is supported by grandpa Mark Recchi, who at 39 has found that drinking the blood of virgins really does do wonders for the body and mind, and great-grandpa Gary Roberts (40), a brilliant trade-deadline acquisition who has been flying all over the ice like a young thing and doing for the Penguins’ forecheck what Sean Avery does for the Rangers’, minus the borderline-sociopathy part. And those role players now look like a junior version of the Sabres’ eight-scoring-forwards attack: Michel Ouellet, Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Ryan Malone, and Maxime Talbot—any one of these guys can step up suddenly and decide a game, as the Sens will probably discover while they’re worrying about Crosby and Malkin.


The Pens’ defense is merely average and their goaltending is questionable; Marc-Andre Fleury can be brilliant, and then again he can be . . . well, sort of absent-minded. And sometimes he gives people huge, delicious rebounds, the kind that sharpshooters like the Sens’ triumvirate of Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza will gladly bury if given half a chance. But the Sens’ goaltender, Ray Emery, is just as questionable as Fleury, as he demonstrated against the Sabres last year; and once you get past that triumvirate, the Senators aren’t quite the team they used to be. Why, they’re not even the team they were last year, when they had the helpful Brian Smolinski and the imposing Zdeno Chara (where “imposing” means “seven feet tall with his skates on”). Peppy young Penguins in six.


Let the playoffs begin and let the playoff beards be shaggy! I’ll link to Scott Lemieux’s picks for the Western Conference as soon as he puts ‘em up.


Update: Scott is in the Intertubes! And since he stuck a bunch of Eastern picks at the end of his post, here are my unsolicited opinions about the Campbell Conference: Red Wings in 6, Ducks in 6, Canucks in 6, Predators in 7. And yes, I know my Lightning – Rangers – Penguins picks are controversial. That’s why it’s called “rooting,” folks—because these predictions are truly radical.

{ 34 comments }

1

Ted 04.11.07 at 1:08 am

Sadly, I must agree with you about the Canadiens’ lack of deservingness. When your team is fighting for the last playoff spot in the last game of the season and gets outshot 20-2 or whatever it was in the first period, they deserve to lose. If they can’t re-sign Souray and Markov, or if they do re-sign Aebischer, Samsonov, or Niinima, it’s going to be a lot worse next year.

2

Vovan 04.11.07 at 1:29 am

Michael

Great analysis, but you manage to underrate the Devils and the Lighting in the same paragraph. Richards, is not just another forward – he is the Con Smythe winner from 2004 – and he certainly did more in those playoffs than Lecavalier. In fact, Richards has 39 points in 39 playoff games, but the “next Jordan” has only 24 in 39. Playoffs are a different season altogether, and if Lighting are to advance past the Devils, which I think they won’t, it will most likely be because of Richards and not Lecavalier.

As to the Devils – I personally hate them ever since the 1995 finals, but I would never bet against them, especially when their opponent has no goaltending to speak off.

3

Michael Bérubé 04.11.07 at 1:34 am

That’s right, Ted, the first-period shots were 23-9. But the weird thing is that the Leafs only got four shots on net in the third — and scored on two of ‘em. And les Habs, fighting for their lives? They got three shots that period.

A pox take ye both, said the Isles’ Gorton’s fisherman.

4

mrjauk 04.11.07 at 1:57 am

I just can’t see the Devil Rays (that is the team nickname, innit?) getting the goaltending necessary to get past the dreaded Devils. The diablos (i.e., Brodeur) will win one or two series at the most, but there will be no Stanley Cup celebration in a parking lot this season.

I see the Canucks and the Sabres in a classic final, with the Canucks overturning the curse of Clarence Campbell (Dale Tallon versus Gilbert Perrault) and winning in six!

5

Ken Houghton 04.11.07 at 2:51 am

My loyalties are no secret, but if you want to attack the +/- of the Devils forwards, you’re going to have to explain the same stat for the Tampa Bay defense.

I’m tired of hearing that Boyle (-5) is a Great Defenceman. Judging by the data, he’s a great scorer who plays indifferent defence at best. Try doing that against an opportunistic, healthy-for-the-first-time-all-year Devils team.

You’re probably right about Lopin’ Lou, but let’s not get too Easterbrookian here—if the Devils get dumped in the second round, it would still be considered have been a huge mistake to have fired Julien and the Hockey G-ds will Smile just as much.

6

max berkowitz 04.11.07 at 2:54 am

What about the Sharks their hot?

7

MikeAdamson 04.11.07 at 4:25 am

Rangers over the Thrashers…sadly no.

8

JP Stormcrow 04.11.07 at 5:08 am

I like your scenario, leading as it does to a Rangers/Pens 2nd round matchup, but I will stay overinvested in the “Martin Brodeur is invincible” narrative and go with the Devils. Elsewise I am with you.

Reading this long post today does sharpen my guilt for how much time you must spend doing things like fixing nroken links. All for our entertainment!

And don’t they play Quoits on Ice or something for the first 2 rounds in the Western Conference so that they still have a chance to match up physically in the Stanley Cup Final? No evidence to the contrary at LGM.

9

The Constructivist 04.11.07 at 8:46 am

Well, I let my mom and my bro follow teh hockey for me, but seeing how Lemieux poached on your territory and made eastern as well as western picks, I’d appreciate it if you poached back, so I could have a meta-interest in the playoffs, at least. Oh yeah, GO SABRES!

10

Michael Bérubé 04.11.07 at 11:33 am

Looks like my thread got taken over by Scott Burnside fans again. And “Easterbrookian”? Good lord, I’ve been called a laptop bombadier, an imperialist stooge, and a bloodthirsty baby-killer, but “Easterbrookian”? That really hurts a fellow.

Reading this long post today does sharpen my guilt for how much time you must spend doing things like fixing nroken links. All for our entertainment!

Well, it’s mostly for your entertainment. It’s partly for the money. And it’s also for the chance to remind Scott Lemieux that while he went 2-2 in the first round last year, I went 4-0. A most unEasterbrookian performance, I might add.

11

spencer 04.11.07 at 12:08 pm

I just can’t see the Devil Rays (that is the team nickname, innit?)

No no no no no – we have one decent sports team around these parts, and it ain’t the Devil Rays. However, there is rumored to be a baseball team (or something intended to approximate one) with that name that “plays” around here somewhere. But nobody I know has ever actually seen them, so it seems likely that they’re probably just a story that parents make up to scare their kids, like the bogey man or Michael Jackson.

12

glenn 04.11.07 at 2:21 pm

I’ll say it once and say it again:

Ice hockey is just like curling, only without the excitement and suspense.

I honestly believe and fervently hope that within the next 10 years, hockey will cease to be a televised sport in the US. The airtime could be better used for things like competitive knitting, donkey races, and pole sitting.

13

Michael Bérubé 04.11.07 at 2:28 pm

I honestly believe and fervently hope that within the next 10 years, hockey will cease to be a televised sport in the US.

All right, who let Gary Bettman in here?

14

Scott Lemieux 04.11.07 at 2:45 pm

Red Wings in 6

Jeez, and after I picked the Rangers, too! Everyone is against me!

15

Walt 04.11.07 at 3:00 pm

Hockey _is_ the one sport that is indisputably better live.

16

Scott Lemieux 04.11.07 at 3:13 pm

15–only if you’re used to watching American productions. Properly covered, hockey (while better live) loses much less than baseball.

17

Scott Lemieux 04.11.07 at 3:29 pm

I’m also puzzled about why John and Henry haven’t paid more attention to Seymour Martin Lipset’s compelling cultural explanation for why American producers feel compelled to show power plays from cameras stationed on Venus.

18

ed_finnerty 04.11.07 at 3:45 pm

Excellent Hogging

Would second a few of the comments. Tampa’s defence has been awful – and Dan Boyle has been the awfulest – but it is fun watching the John Tortella melt down. It will be a fun series to watch the two best tiny forwards in the league, Gionta and St. Louis, dazzle. Would like Tampa to destroy the cult of Lou as well but don’t think it will happen. The bad ice strategy doesn’t work against the devils. Maybe Tampa could cross them up by having good ice for a change.

Would like the Islanders to win just as a big FU to the league. Charles Wang fires the ‘inside hockey’ GM and replaces him with a back-up goalie, finds a blacklisted coach in a garbage can and signs a 15 year contract with a goalie. Everybody laughs. There not laughing in TO now. How is that more stupit than the previous (except for the neil smith weekend) GM giving a 10 year contract to perhaps the worst possible player in NHL history to get a 10 year contract. Maybe Ryan Smith can pull a messier on Yashin. Speaking of Neil Smith, isn’t he the one that signed Bobby Holik for 5 years at 10 per. Pure Genius that. Having said that, I watched a lot of the Isles this year and they were pretty much DiPietro and nothing else for most of the year. They are better now, and better without Simon. Buffalo will destroy them.

I think the rangers will beat Atlanta and extinguish the aura of bobby Holik.

Pittsburg/Ottawa is indeed a tradegy as one of the two most entertaining teams will be eliminated. I think Ottawa will beat them at every facet of the game and barring an Emery meltdown will win a long series. Of course, ottawas nemesis wears number 10 and there is almost a racial memory in ottawa of the game six disaster he caused in toronto. Roberts will be in Emery’s face from the opening whistle. And one thing you are wrong about. I was at the Pens worst home game of the season and it was the week before your candidate. Opening night against Detroit. I was anticipating the Crosby/Malkin powerplay fireworks. A week before, the waste of a sweater LeClair knocked Malkin out. The Pens had four PP’s – no shots. Gonchar was at his disinterested best. The turning point for Pitt was sending LeClair home. Pitt will win.

19

spencer 04.11.07 at 5:01 pm

Oh, Dan Boyle hasn’t been that awful, at least if you don’t count his defense. He did set a team record for goals in a season by a defenseman, though, so he does have some value. It just has very little to do with his actual position.

As for Holmqvist, he’s had some really, really good nights this season . . . alongside some really shitty ones. Personally, I think he’s got the stuff to rise to the occasion, but I’ve been wrong about that sort of thing in the past. So while I’d love to enthusiastically second Berube’s prediction, I’m not sure I’m ready to do that just yet.

20

Siva Vaidhyanathan 04.12.07 at 2:49 am

SABRES SABRES SABRES!

As Stephen Colbert would say, I ACCEPT YOUR APOLOGY!

Seriously, I love Ted Nolan. He deserves better than this Islanders squad. He has done a magnificent job with that team and should be named coach of the year once again.

21

Josh 04.12.07 at 3:30 am

Okay, if that’s what “Hogging” means, what’s “Dhalgrening”?

22

rev.paperboy 04.12.07 at 10:13 am

“I honestly believe and fervently hope that within the next 10 years, hockey will cease to be a televised sport in the US.

All right, who let Gary Bettman in here?

Posted by Michael Bérubé · April 11th, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Oh god, Michael I’m so glad you’re back on the intertubes

23

The Constructivist 04.12.07 at 11:34 am

I must admit I got excited when I saw all the -5s and +1s in this post, but then I realized there were no -5s to be had in the Masters. I’ll take goggin over hogging any day.

24

The Barefoot Bum 04.12.07 at 12:51 pm

[L]et’s keep it below the fold, out of consideration for the feelings of people who couldn’t care less…

Thank you!

25

JP Stormcrow 04.12.07 at 1:13 pm

Thanks for the posting this Michael. You’re getting me psyched for when the Pens start playing in their series this Saturday. I can hardly wait.

26

nick s 04.12.07 at 1:58 pm

This is Other Conference Material, but the Canucks deserve two wins for last night. I was exhausted just watching that game, so I can’t imagine how knackered both sides’ players feel today.

Have to lean towards the top seeds in the East (even the Astonishingly Dull Brown Birds Of The Georgia Metropolitan Spreawl), but the Sens-Pens really does grieve me, because Crosby is a true phenomenon, a player who re-introduces people to the game. But Canadian Teams Must Win. Sorry. Even against Mario and Sidney.

Ice hockey is just like curling, only without the excitement and suspense.

You are a very silly person and thus ideally qualified to lead the NHL.

27

glenn 04.12.07 at 2:59 pm

I’ve been to half a dozen hockey matches, grew up in Blues and Blackhawk regions, but am thoroughly, utterly bored by the end of the first period.

I grew up playing soccer, but realize it’s awful to watch – but not nearly like hockey – as well.

America is crying for that fourth national, professional sport, but Hockey is jsut so friggin’ unappealing.

28

Michael Bérubé 04.12.07 at 4:52 pm

Glenn, do yourself a favor and watch an overtime period played by two highly skilled teams. Here, Nick S will be happy to tell you about that Vancouver-Dallas quadruple-OT sweatathon, and I can vouch for last night’s Sharks-Predators double-OT funfest, which had, I believe, one dull moment.

But first you will need to build your own telecommunications satellites and launch them from your backyard, as I did — because, as has been noted upthread, hockey is not televised in the United States.

And yeah, JP, it’ll be so exciting when the Penguins start playing!

29

nick s 04.12.07 at 9:56 pm

Multiple twenty-minute OT is one thing that makes NHL playoffs distinctive from any US sport (or any sport, really). The refereers last night deserve praise, too: they essentially decided to stop calling penalties mid-way through OT3 and allowed the teams to play it out to a winner.

(And I do get Versus, mainly for the cycling, though my cable provider is currently trying to screw more money from Comcast to keep carrying it.)

30

Catherine 04.12.07 at 10:45 pm

Hmmm…the Lightnin’ over Marty Brodeur and those other fellows? As much as I like that idea, I just don’t believe it. I’ll take the Sabres in 5 (I was going to say 4), the Devils in 6, the Rangers in 7, and, sadly, the Sens in 6.

GO SABRES

31

shaun 04.13.07 at 12:34 pm

And even though the Leafs are no longer coached by the thuggish Pat Quinn, whose playoff strategy consisted chiefly of telling his forwards to administer career-ending injuries to other teams’ stars

Slanderous!!! Slanderous, I say. (Possibly libelous – I’m not sure.) Which stars exactly are you refering to here and what illegal tactics did the Leafs use to administer these injuries?
In the age of the neutral zone trap, Quinn’s Leafs dumped the puck into the corner and went in and got it by forechecking hard and finishing every check. By the seventh game of being hit each time they touched the puck, the more delicate opposing players (Yashin, as one example) weren’t too interested in going and getting the puck anymore. And who was leading the charge for the Leafs when they were acting so reprehensibly thuggish?

great-grandpa Gary Roberts (40), a brilliant trade-deadline acquisition who has been flying all over the ice like a young thing and doing for the Penguins’ forecheck what Sean Avery does for the Rangers’, minus the borderline-sociopathy part.

Oh, the slanderous irony. (despite this, I’m glad to see you back on the interwebs)

32

Michael Bérubé 04.13.07 at 2:32 pm

Which stars exactly are you refering to here and what illegal tactics did the Leafs use to administer these injuries?

Darcy Tucker, Michael Peca, very late hit below the knee. What, you think we would forget these things? Or Quinn’s dumbass decision in ’94 to try to cover the Rangers’ Messier line with the line of Tim Hunter, Shawn Antoski, and John McIntyre? (“Us crush them,” said Antoski when asked to explain how his line intended to contain the Rangers’ fast-skatin’, crisp-passin’ attack. “Yeh,” added Hunter. “They go squish now.”) Oh, sure, let’s pretend that Quinn’s teams were just a bunch of virtuous Gary Robertses hustling after loose pucks. Let’s pretend that Ogie Oglethorpe, a/k/a Tie Domi, wasn’t the heart and soul of Quinn’s team.

33

David in NY 04.13.07 at 8:48 pm

“who couldn’t care less:”

Well, I just came down here to thank Prof. Berube for saying the above in lieu of the awful “could care less” and was repaid for my trouble by his link to Scott’s Western Conf. match-ups. As an intermittent Red Wings fan since the late days of Howe, Lindsay and Sawchuck, I appreciated the analysis at the link.

34

Nell 04.16.07 at 5:22 am

Back from Atlanta, subdued and saddened. Trying to fire up the optimism for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games in NY.

Hedberg will probably be in net on Tuesday despite having been scored on by a dump-in off the glass (they gave two assists on that one, too; cheeeeze.) Back-to-back games in the Garden mean Lehtonen will play game 4 no matter what the outcome in game 3. Less than ideal if we’re down 3-0 at that point, but if so then we have problems bigger than soul-crushing pressure on young goalie.

Rangers defensive play v. impressive; game 2 was much stronger effort from the Thrashers but extremely close checking made it hard to get the usual flow going. Hossa and Kozlov, my two favorites, among the least effective so far.

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