I haven't posted much about the playoffs because quite frankly, it's been difficult for me to get too hyped up about them yet. There are several interesting matchups though, and the action is heating up, (as well as winding down), in some of the series.
First of all, the Carolina affiliate Albany River Rats won last night in their series opener against the Philadelphia Phantoms. AHL goalie of the year, Mike Leighton had 39 saves and earned the 4-0 shutout. Many Caniacs will be following this series, like parents living life precariously through their children. Hey, since the Hurricanes couldn't make the playoffs, this might be the next best thing. There will certainly be some familiar faces in the Rats lineup.
The Ottawa Senators were eliminated last night by the Pittsburgh Penguins. How embarrassing! Somewhere, John Paddock must be smiling. Paddock was the Ottawa coach for a good part of the year before being replaced by General Manager, Bryan Murray because of a mid-season losing streak. Murray put himself behind the bench and didn't do any better. He should be the next one to lose his job.
What are the odds that either Murray or Paddock will end up coaching the Panthers? I think there is some kind of rule that ex-Sens coaches need to
coach, retire in Florida.
Where are all of those so-called experts out there who were saying that Ottawa got the best of Carolina in the Corvo/Eaves for Stillman/Commodore deal? As it stands right now, the Canes have 2 solid players, one under contract for 2 more years, the other a restricted free agent who needs to be signed. But the rights to Eaves alone are worth considerable more than what the Sens have in hand right now.
Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore are both free agents, and have the right to sign with anyone in the NHL. Ottawa could end up losing two valuable players, for nothing. I look for them to re-sign Stillman, but let Commodore walk.
Hey Caniacs, if you are looking for an exciting, small market team to get behind this playoff season, check out the Nashville Predators. The fans, the city, and the team get very little respect, but they are giving the best team in the NHL, all kinds of fits right now. The series with Detroit is tied 2-2 and it's a real barn-burner. The Preds kind of remind me of the Canes in year's past, so it's easy to cheer for them.
One funny thing about the Nashville Predators is that they were seriously considering moving that franchise earlier this season. Remember the season tickets being sold in Hamilton, Ontario? Because of expense cutting, they had to trim payroll, trade away, or allow their most expensive players to walk.
Superstars like Vokoun, Kariya, Forsberg, Timonen, and Hartnell all left, yet that team is playing with more heart and conviction right now than at any time in last year's playoffs. They are selling out their home rink at this point too, and fans are going nuts. What a remarkable turn around from what could have been. Way to go Pred Nation!