Best of NHL Playoffs for April 15: Cup contenders on verge of being swept
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks needed to win on Sunday. And neither one did. Also: Pavel Datsyuk provides us with the goal of the night, even in defeat.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks had to be two of the most popular Stanley Cup picks heading into the playoffs.
On Sunday, both teams entered Game 3 of their respective series in two-game holes and in desperate need of a win to realistically have any chance of moving on to the next round. Neither team was able to get one.
One team (the Penguins) moved to the brink of elimination by completely self-destructing and embarrassing itself in an 8-4 loss at Philadelphia. The other hit the panic button before the game even started and made a goalie switch by benching Roberto Luongo and starting Cory Schneider.
Schneider played well, as should have been expected, but the problem for Vancouver remained an inability to score in a 1-0 loss. What buttons coach Alain Vigneault can push now remain to be seen, but he's already played his goalie card, and that didn't solve a problem that didn't even exist.
So here we less than a week into the playoffs and the supposed best team in the NHL (Pittsburgh) and the Presidents' Trophy winner (Vancouver) are not only in danger of going out in the first round, they are in danger of being swept. You might be able to say you expected one, or even both, to lose in round one (I had Vancouver losing), but I don't think anybody had either one being in a position to not even win a game. And it may happen to both of them.
It's not over yet, and a lot can change over the next week, but it's not looking good for either team.
It should also be pointed out that both are on the verge of being eliminated by pretty darn good teams. Jonathan Quick is playing as solid as he did in the regular season and Dustin Brown has been all over the place for Los Angeles. He scored the only goal on Sunday and now has four in the series.
The Flyers offense looks like a juggernaut at this point, but play on the blue line and in the crease still leaves a quite a bit to be desired.
Goal of the night: Pavel Datsyuk. Sure, it came in a losing effort as the Red Wings lost to Nashville, 3-2, but this goal is vintage Datsyuk. Defense, offense ... everything. It's simply a work of art by one of the best and most entertaining players in the world.
Worst play of the night: In what's becoming a nightly development, anything by any of the defensemen and goaltenders in the Penguins-Flyers game. Again. This series is to the point where goals are as rare and exciting as dunks in a basketball game. There is a ton of talent on these two rosters, and they're getting plenty of help by two inept defenses right now. And the goaltending on Sunday was just abysmal at both ends of the ice.
Neither goalie looks like they have any level of confidence right now.
Tweet of the night: From the Royal Half (@theroyalhalf), with a bit of help from the Los Angeles Kings in-game entertainment...
At Staples they just showed the replay of the penalty against Kesler followed by Olympic diving footage. Never change, @LAKingsGameEnt.— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) April 16, 2012
Because people think Ryan Kesler is a diver, of course.
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