Now that the Canucks narrowly escaped epic disaster by the narrowest of margins (a Game 7 OT winner off a turnover by one Chris Campoli), do the "chokers" and "no-clutch" obituaries go to the trash, their contender status restored? Or does giving up an equalizing shorthanded goal with two minutes left still feed those doubts? Close or not, the Canucks' play was fantastic last night, as only Corey Crawford's goaltending kept the Hawks in it.
When you think about it, Vancouver over Chicago in seven was no controversial prediction (it was my pick, and I avoid controversy like I avoid light beer). It was just the route they took that shocked one and all.
As alluded to yesterday, in 1975 a favored team choked away a 3-0 series lead to the Islanders, only to win in Game 7. That Philadelphia team went on to win that year's Stanley Cup. In a few weeks, we may look back on this as the worst adversity the Cup-winning Canucks faced. Or...we may look back on it as an omen of what was to come.
Tonight: Another Pair of 7th Games
So last night's Game 7s were hit and miss: The Flyers-Sabres was a dud, where the Flyers dominated an injury-ravaged Buffalo team throughout. The Canucks-Blackhawks game was a classic, though Vancouver controlled play and Chicago needed Crawford's show plus a very late shorthanded goal from Jonathan Toews just to force OT. It's a shame that Alexandre Burrows was the hero, but sticking to form he was the turnover goat on the Toews goal.
Tonight could be more of the same: Both the Bruins-Canadiens and Penguins-Lightning series are liable to give us a tight one and lopsided let-down. Sadly, unlike last night they are not stacked back-to-back for ease of couch-lounging consumption. In the U.S., Versus gives B's-Habs preference and says it will join the other game "in progress." One last use for Center Ice and a very active remote control hand.
Links O' Plenty
Nino Niederreiter plays for Portland with his countryman Sven Bartschi, an intriguing prospect in this summer's draft. Based on his answers, there's a reason the Islanders cannot consider picking him though.
A cool look inside the work of Islanders trainer Garrett Timms.
SNY Point Blank interviews North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol on Islanders prospects The Reverend Brock Nelson and Jason Gregoire.
Active FanPosts around here: On to offer or not to offer sheet Zach Parise | On your latest vote for the 2011 Islanders top pick | And is it time to check back on how your LHH Playoff Pool picks are doing? So far I've lost one (Buffalo) and am at risk of losing another one or two tonight.
Hockey Prospectus for the Rest of Us: Was Patrick Roy "clutch" or just another in a long line of good players who we pretend possess magical clutchitude powers that elude the average bear? | Also: On teams who build around a pricey goalie...and a bit about Dwayne Roloson's hot spring.