What Else to Look For in Conference Championships
Goaltending - Shot Blocking - PP-PK & Referees!
We have witnessed the most discussed and viewed NHL playoffs in the history of the game. It has simply been entertaining and has the audience sitting on the edge of their respective seats. The unexpected has made it to the forefront, good-bye Washington... Pittsburgh... Ottawa... Buffalo and Detroit onward the four teams go. Montreal 8th seed vs. Philadelphia 7th seed, then the one and two seeds in the west San Jose and Chicago.
A European goaltender has a good chance of winning a cup. Halak vs. Michael Leighton and Evgeni Nabakov vs. Antti Niemi are the match-ups for this year's semi-finals. The favorite for the Conn Smythe has been Jaroslav Halak, who has literally "manned up" on Ovechkin and Crosby. The Canadiens have been outshot in 11 games so far, where they are a remarkable 8-3. Sometimes the shot differential is a 2-1 ratio.
Shot blocking is a skill that stands tall in the playoffs. Montreal with 320 leads the way while Philly has 194, Chicago 190 and San Jose 155. With goaltending and shot blocking, it is easy to tell who is on the defensive. Can the Canadiens still hold on to their cinderella run? Do not bet against them.
The PP and PK have gone hand in hand in the playoffs to date. All of the teams are hovering around the 20% mark on the PP. The PK for all four teams runs at a success rate between 84-88%. When combining the two categories anything over 102% is solid.
Now, what will the role of the official play in the series? They have been busy thus far. They have called everything, and I mean everything including 33 minors for too many men on the ice, the most in the NHL history. The officials must know the there is no difference than what is called during the season. They have not been afraid to call penalties early and have distinguished they know the difference between “emotion and abuse,” says the director of officials Terry Gregson. Communication from the drop of the puck to the final whistle is necessary as well, he states.
Stay tuned as the Conference Finals come your way!
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.