I can't even begin to describe how fun Friday night's NHL playoff games were. Five series, with staggered starts from coast to coast, a good DVR and Mrs. Lighthouse out of town all equaled guilt-free hockey-watching heaven. There were late goals galore, an OT (in the same game), traded leads, and a game-altering fluke goal by a Milbury draft pick against a Blackhawks goalie (video after the jump).
All five games were close until the final two minutes. Also: A big (legal) Andy Sutton check on Jordan Leopold (video and confrontational reporter reaction after the jump), as well as typically obnoxious transplant/bandwagon Wings fans in Phoenix demanding to be noticed, clamoring to be seen on TV.
Meanwhile, in the minors, defeat for both Islanders affiliates:
The teams have played 124:08. Hershey has led for 13:54. Bridgeport has led for 75:47 (24:34 by two goals).
His game story is here. He also got a typically enlightening quote out of Garth Snow about why Mikko Koskinen was recalled: "I have my reasons." Gee, thanks. Cue Nathan Lawson going to the hospital with cramps (seriously), which fueled an amusing tweet about Snow's psychic powers.
Both series resume tonight, the Grizzlies remaining in Idaho for Game 2 while the Sound Tigers return to Bridgeport for Game 3.
J.P. Dumont's Fluke Goal on Antti Niemi
Sutton's Hit on Leopold
Interesting that fellow former Islander (and ex-teammate) Billy Guerin was one of the first ones there to challenge Sutton, who was actually half-way into the penalty box because the Igloo door busted open from his hit.
Unfortunately, the hit took Leopold out of the game, and you'd have to imagine prudence dictates he misses the next one, too. After a bunch of replays (and unfortunately, the stupid superimposed Versus logo obscuring the point of contact on the best replay angle) It looked clean to me. Ironically, I think Sutton's height meant his tucked-in arm went over Leopold -- and Leopold took a face full of Sutton torso.
Of course, as we see in a lot of these instances, the reason Leopold was such an easy target is because he was already receiving backchecking pressure from Nick Foligno. I could see someday, with the speed of the game today, that second-man-in scenario entering the tent of "predatory" hits.
In a similar play in the San Jose-Colorado game -- though in the offensive zone rather than neutral zone, and further from the boards -- Douglas Murray tried to knock rookie Matt Duchene into next week while Duchene was already being pursued and blocked by another Sharks forward. Difference was, Duchene saw him coming and hopped up at the last second; had he not, Murray would have surely taken his head off with his shoulder. A game of inches, and neurons.
One reporter said Sutton got his elbow up, and challenged him about it after the game. First, the NHL's cleansed snippet of post-game comments:
Sutton's Initial Post-Game Reaction
Next, the reporter's back-and-forth with a pretty irritated but restrained Sutton:
'You Didn't Know Your Elbow Came up and Hit Him in the Head?'
Tonight, Bruins-Sabres, Capitals-Canadiens, and Kings-Canucks all resume. You can still make your picks in WebBard's FanPost -- the prize is awe and respect from the rest of us -- and if you haven't voted on series victories (and length), here are the individual series polls:
- New Jersey-Philadelphia poll
- Buffalo-Boston poll
- Montreal-Washington poll
- Pittsburgh-Ottawa poll
- San Jose-Colorado poll
- Phoenix-Detroit poll
- Blackhawks-Predators poll