Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NHL Blogging: The Sweetest Words in Sports

NHL Blogging: The Sweetest Words in Sports

Two, count 'em two game sevens tonight. More awesome than adding up A, W, and E.

As a Wings fan the one I care about is the one that takes place later tonight - the Sharks and Flames will determine who the Red Machine rolls over next. Although, make no mistake, as a fan of hockey I'm going to be watching the Caps and Flyers just as avidly as I took in the Habs and Bruins the other night. I'm psyched and it's even better since my team isn't involved.

For all the concern over the past week with how the teams looked against the Predators, I think things have actually worked out alright. Although it's nice to have time off to recover from injuries and recover for the next slog, I think a long layoff can be a bad thing. You want to have a few days off to re-energize but you don't want to be sitting around and gathering dust while other teams have their adrenaline pumping. The Wings will play again after only a few days and that, to me, sounds about right considering no one critical's out with an injury. None of their potential opponents really cruised through to the next round, either. And they've found their goaltender. Shakey Hasek's been replaced - likely for good - by steady Osgood. Take away that 6 on 5 goal in the closing minutes of regulation in game 5 and he's thrown a shutout for the postseason so far, seeing heavy time in three games. Granted, Hasek didn't play all that badly either except for melting down in Game 4 but, hey, I feel much better being backstopped by the Wizard and it seems the team does, too. But, heading into the next round, the team is healthy, the best players have been putting points on the boards, the roleplayers have been contributing, and, best of all, they've still got room to improve.

Because the Wings are the #1 overall seed, they'll match up against the lowest seed next round. If the Sharks win, that means a match against the hated Avalanche who, as #6 seed, polished off the #3 Wild. That means a series with Lidstrom and McCarty and Osgood against Forsberg and Foote and everything else that's going to revive what was a heated rivalry.

If the Sharks fall, on the other hand, that means slightly less hated Calgary. Who've pushed the Wings to the brink in the past, of course, being just like Nashville - an overachieving small market team with nothing to lose backed by an impassioned crowd - in other words, the sort of team that the Wings have had problems with dating back to the days of the white-out in Winnipeg. Playing Calgary means a lot of travel time, too. Not that Colorado is much better but those miles wear at this time of year.

The only teams they can't play next round are the Sharks, of course, and Dallas, who edged the Ducks before they could push their series to a game seven themselves.

So, it'll either be Wings-Lanche and Sharks-Stars or Wings-Flames and Stars-Avs. Either way, a tough but not impossible series. And a prospective match against yet another traditional opponent (At least, you know, from the past twenty odd years.) in the conference finals since it'll be another round with either the Sharks, Stars, or Avalanche, all of whom have shared memorable series with the Wings in the past.

Honestly, I'm not sure just which outcome I prefer. Rooting against the Sharks means a premature exit for a dangerous team. While rooting for them is asking a tough out to stay around for a potential slugfest down the line. But it also means, by transference, pulling for the Avs.

Aw, who am I kidding. There's a potential series against a hated rival on the line. I want the Sharks to win so the Wings can pound on Colorado, just like old times.

Oh, and, yes, we're not talking about the Pistons until they actually start playing. Which, based on visual evidence from recordings of this supposed game one they haven't actually yet.

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