One week into the postseason there certainly are a lot of different story lines. Here are what we believe are the five best stories we have seen so far.
Five: A rookie’s fifth game in the NHL is a 1-0 playoff loss.
When Simeon Varlamov suited up for Hershey at the beginning of the year I can bet you he didn’t expect to be starting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by year’s end. He has replaced Jose Theodore as the Capitals number one goalie in the playoffs and has clearly emerged as next year’s starter. The shy Russian “Iron Curtain” has given three performances that rival those of Martin Brodeur and Chris Osgood. It’s a shame that the guy at the other end of the ice has not let anything through; Varlamov has allowed only three goals in three games. With the Capitals normal offense, that should translate to three wins.
Four: National Controversy
Two simple songs, which have been sung before games in the National Hockey League for pretty much its entire existence, have created an international incident. The Montreal Canadian fans decided that booing the Star Spangled Banner before Game 3 was a good way to show dislike for the Boston Bruins. Instead their poor taste disrespected an entire country. We in DC have had to deal with the shouting of “O!” and “Red!” all year, but it was never as blatantly disrespectful as booing the National Anthem is. Puck Daddy over at Yahoo! Sports gave an interesting challenge to every American, during the Canadian National Anthem everyone should sing along and cheer as loud as they can to show their opposition to Montreal in the most respectful way possible.
A Tip of the Hat to Boston
Three: Head for the High Seas
Where was this Vancouver Canucks team the rest of the season? Their four game sweep of the poor St. Louis Blues has frightened almost every team in the West. Here the Blues were, thinking they won the lottery because they didn’t have to face Detroit or San Jose and now they wish they had lost so they could be in the Ducks position. Roberto Luongo has shown us that he earned that C, he wishes was on his jersey, for a reason. Not only has Vancouver swept the Blues in a series many thought would go to seven games, but they also managed to score three goals in their last three games against rookie phenom Steve Mason.
Two: The Presidential Curse
The curse of the best record in the league has struck again. The San Jose Sharks find their backs up against the wall as they face elimination against the surprising Anaheim Ducks. The two teams are just beating the crap out of each other. They are both extremely physical, both have extra activity after every whistle and both are playing with nothing to lose. The only problem is that the Ducks have more gas in their tanks now. It has always been tough for the Presidents Trophy winner to win in the playoffs simply because they are too tired and that seems to be the case with the Sharks. Everyone was down on Detroit because they lost down the stretch, but who looks foolish now, as the Wings were well rested and steamrolled Columbus.
One: The Not So Immortal One
Martin Brodeur has finally come down to the same level as us common folk, the level of no calls and controversial goals. As the Carolina Hurricanes scored with 0.2 seconds left in Game 4 to win, Brodeur threw what can be described only as a temper tantrum. Remember that goalie that threw milk crates on the ice after, what he thought, was a bad call? Yeah, Marty looked like him. Brodeur believed Jussi Jokinen interfered with him just before the goal and he made sure the officials new it. Whether Jokinen did or not, Brodeur knows better than that. He looked like every other goalie that hasn’t broken the all time wins record Tuesday night. He looked… human. Welcome to what everyone has to deal with, Marty — enjoy your stay.
Here is the whole thing. Brodeur’s interview starts at about 1:30 and the replay of his tantrum is at about 2:30.
An interesting note is that Brodeur bounced back just one game later with an impressive shutout victory.