By:-Gary Norris Gray and Michael Louis Ingram -BASN Staff Reporters
OAKLAND, CA.-The National Hockey League changed the playoff format three years ago and it is working. The league wanted geographical rivals to play each other in the first round of the playoffs; it got its wishes with most of the matchups but it also got chirpy play on the ice that led to multiple skirmishes.
The NHL tried to clean up its image of a fighting league. If the league wants to become mainstream it has to do a better job to end fighting. It still might have to go back to the drawing board with the recent events. Maybe if the league suspended players for a longer period of time or ejected players from the game indefinitely. The attitude would change on the ice.
Meanwhile on to the playoffs
This year it was a record nine teams using two goalies in a series. The coaches changed goalies like water every game and sometimes each period to change team momentum. Sometimes that worked sometimes it did not. The Chicago Blackhawks got away with it while the St. Louis Blues bomb out.
The Anaheim Ducks were the first team to quietly win their series with a 4-0 sweep over the Winnipeg Jets. It was too much firepower for Winnipeg. The left coast Anderson, Goalie Fredrik Anderson shut down the Jets gunners and breezed to victory. The Ducks bottled up Goal Brother defensemen/forward Dustin Byfuglein. Those Nasty Ducks ended the 19 year drought of the Winnipeg crowd with solid Duck defense, good goal tending and timely scoring. The Jets gave Anaheim too much room-space on the ice and the Ducks capitalized.
The President’s Trophy New York Rangers did not waste time being the second team to win their series. The struggling Pittsburgh Penguins were escorted out the playoff door by the New York Rangers. It seemed like the Black and Gold were skating in quicksand with their stars Sid “The Kid” Crosby and Evgani Malkin getting shutout. Injuries hampered the Penguins who could not overcome the fire power and speed of the Rangers, who whizzed by them every game. The Rangers also had the advantage in net with number 30 “The King”, Henrik Lundqvist. Every game ended 2-1 with the Rangers winning four of them.
Goalie Marc Andre Fleury went through his usual playoff funk and hurt the Penguins game. Pittsburgh administration might now be willing to blowup this team up.
There was a knock down dragged out donny-brook (fight) on the ice between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. This matchup made Canada proud and the winner of this matchup could be the Stanley Cup Champion. These two teams just don’t like each other and it showed as they are 110 miles apart and that is what the league wanted. There is a downside to fighting not a single player was fined or suspended.
Goalies Carey Price-Montreal and Mr. Anderson-Ottawa put on a show in net. The Senators slowed down Goal Brother defensemen P.K. Suppan by double-teaming number 76 or shadowing him which left other players open on the ice. The Canadiens ended the dream second half surge by the Sens. Carey Price shutout Ottawa the last game something no team had done all year.
A (fight) hockey game broke out between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals, again not a single player will pay for swinging their fist or sticks. The Islanders played game six at Nassau Coliseum Sunday night which will be the last game on the island to tie the series at 3 games each. The Islanders will be moving to Brooklyn next fall. This series had everything but the kitchen sink and Goalie Holtby holding out for the Caps and a series victory. A Washington payback for the 4 overtime victory in 1987 by the Islanders.
The Washington Capitals got by one New York hockey team can they escape New York team number two in one playoffs season?
The Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks will not be sending Christmas cards to each other this year as the league turns a blind eye to the nastiness on the ice. Scott Darling and Cory Crawford have been playing musical chairs in net. Darling did not have a great start in game six letting in three quick Nashville goals. Crawford came in net and shut the door.
Defensemen Duncan Keith made sure the Chicago Blackhawks would be moving on to the second round.
Don’t get me started on the Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames and the circus they had in game two in Vancouver. The Flames also played musical chairs with their goalie pulling Jonas Hiller for Karri Ramo in game six. The Comeback Kids do it again letting Vancouver get a 3-0 lead in the first period before stepping on the gas and winning 4-3.
The League will have to address the brawl issue before the start of the 2015-2016 season:-
The fiercest fighting was between the Flames’ Matt Stajan and the Canucks’ Brad Richardson who looked like they were both gunning for a heavyweight title. Richardson had Stajan pinned to the ice and pummeled him with punches. Deryk Engelland found a dancing partner in Derek Dorsett for several rounds, while other teammates just took turns struggling with each other as the refs tried to break them apart.
In total, the fight lasted over two minutes and 132 penalty minutes were awarded out to both sides, including multiple game misconducts for Flames defenseman Engelland.
The Calgary Flames ended the series with 7-3 victory and a date with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Minnesota Wild will slowly erase the mid-west memories of the Minnesota North Stars who went to Dallas and won the Stanley Cup. Something they did not archive in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Wild pulled the biggest upset of the 2015 playoff season beating the St. Louis Blues.
The Wild won this series because of the last man of defense goalie Devan Dubnyk was the star of this series. The two leaders, left winger Zach Parise and center Mikko Koivu carried the evergreen uniformed Wild to victory. The Parise line is on fire with a 17 point combination with Jason Pominville and Mikael Grandlund.
Minnesota is an outstanding road team and that’s what carried them in this series winning game one and five.
This could be the end of head coach Ken Hitchcock. He just can’t get the St. Louis Blues passed the second round. This year they stumbled in the first round. The Two Headed Monster (Goalies-Jake Allen and Brian Elliott) did not work.
The last series with the Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning ended Wednesday night. This was a matchup of completely different hockey styles. The Wings are old school slow down grind them out defensive hockey. The red and white wear you down with stretch passing down the ice and cycling behind the opponent’s goalie.
Tampa Bay still executes the run and gun style without the departed forward Martin St. Louis-New York Rangers. Teams have to be careful or they could be blown out in the first period. One of the highest scoring teams that lives up to their reputation.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod


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