Canada won gold, Finland won silver, and last year's champions, team Sweden went home blue after losing the bronze medal game to Russia. Congratulations goes to Team Canada! With the help of Hurricane's Justin Williams, Cam Ward, Mike Commodore, and Eric Staal they won the World Championships and finished off the Finnish with a 4-2 victory yesterday. Rick Nash won tournament MVP. Cam Ward was solid between the pipes for the two crucial medal round games. Great job Wardo! Now it's time for the guys to get some much needed rest.
What a game at the HSBC on Saturday night! After Buffalo jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Ottawa kept their cool and eventually took the lead 3-2. The Sabres pulled some more magic out of their collective "hats" and tied the game with 6 seconds left, but the Sens were able to keep their focus and won the game in the 2nd overtime giving them a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. What a dominating performance by the Senators so far this playoffs! They have a 10-2 record and have thoroughly outplayed each of the teams they have faced so far. Now, not only has Buffalo lost their home ice advantage, they have really put themselves behind the eight ball by losing their 2 opening games at home. The odds are overwhelmingly against them to be able to somehow turn the series around and win it now.
I know what some of you are thinking. I've read the same thing from some sportswriters and some Buffalo fans. The Hurricanes lost their first 2 home games last year against the Habs then went on to win 4 straight, so why can't the Sabres do the same thing? Anything is possible of course, but there are a couple of major differences between the Carolina/Montreal series last year and the Ottawa/Buffalo series this one. The first major difference is the goaltending. Last year, Martin Gerber started the series "ill" and allowed several soft goals. By soft, I mean that he was letting in shots from the blue line. After an admittedly weak first game by the Hurricanes team, the 2nd game started off with 3 more goals allowed by Gerber in the 1st period after which Laviolette pulled him and started Cam Ward beginning the 2nd period of the game. Even though Carolina went on to lose that game, they outplayed the Habs for the remaining 2 periods and clawed back to really make a game of it. From the moment that Ward entered the series, the tone of the series changed. In this series, the goaltending for Buffalo has been good for the most part although even if it was a problem, there is no savior to call upon from the bench to turn things around. There's no magic bullet to save Buffalo because they are sticking with Miller, win or lose.
After the first 2 games last year, Carolina went to Montreal still thinking they had the better team and had carried the play for much of those 2 losses. Mentally, they could blame those losses on Gerber's weak goaltending, for the most part. This year, the Sabres have been outplayed for the majority of the two games. Quite frankly, the Senators look like the better team. Last year, Carolina beat Montreal because they had the better team. The better team will probably win this series as well and right now that looks like Ottawa. I still think Buffalo might win a couple of games to make this somewhat interesting, but I really doubt they can turn this thing around. Right now my original prediction of Ottawa winning this series in 6 games looks pretty good!
Finally, thanks goes to Steve Halko and the rest of the volunteers who helped out at the annual Mother's Day skate yesterday. All the mothers and daughters who participated really enjoyed themselves. The News and Observer ran a nice story about it it here. Happy Monday!