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Double OT: Observations on the first round

Carey Price has been fantastic in the first round, making Bob Gainey's Cristobal Huet trade a distant memory. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

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Carey Price has been fantastic in the first round, making Bob Gainey's Cristobal Huet trade a distant memory. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Does it get any better than this? Five playoff hockey games in one night!

Because of my job as an analyst with Rogers Sportsnet, I have the good fortune of being able to watch all the games that are on TV in a nice lounge inside Rogers’ fancy new studios in downtown Toronto, even when two or three are being played at the same time.

Here are some observations from the first round thus far:

Montreal rookie goaltender Carey Price has more than justified GM Bob Gainey’s decision to trade Cristobal Huet and anoint Price as the Canadiens goalie of the future. Even if the Habs don’t win the Stanley Cup this season, it is abundantly clear they have a reliable stopper for years to come. The way he operates so calmly under pressure, at just 20 years old, is simply remarkable...

What purpose did having George Parros in the Anaheim lineup and Derek Boogaard in the Minnesota lineup serve Tuesday night? Parros played four shifts for the Ducks, accumulating 2:42 in ice time and was credited with one giveaway. Boogaard, meanwhile, also played a grand total of four shifts for 2:03 and was tagged with two minor penalties and two misconducts...

If the Sens are bounced in four, they should not fire GM Bryan Murray. They should, however, consider moving one of their top three forwards – Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley or Jason Spezza. Oh, and get rid of goalie Ray Emery, too. They should have done that long ago, actually. It is clear Ottawa’s Big Three are not a Cup-winning mix, but any of them should fetch a healthy enough return to change the chemistry of this outfit...

I know he scored the winner Tuesday, but I’m still not seeing Joe Thornton take control of things the way he needs to if the San Jose Sharks are to advance beyond the first round. Thornton was held in check for the first two periods and it wasn’t until the final minute, with the outcome on the line, that he finally stepped forward and flexed a little muscle. He needs to do that on every shift of every game...

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There is no question Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars is one of the biggest pests in the NHL. It’s just that I thought with his talent, he would amount to more than that. It’s almost like his trying to be an agitator on every shift is holding him back from other things he might accomplish, like chipping in on offense. He did, after all, manage seasons of 50 and 43 goals playing junior in Windsor. In that regard, he could take a lesson or two from New York’s Sean Avery...

The more I watch Mike Richards, the more I am convinced he’ll be a member of Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He is emerging as one of the best two-way players in the NHL and his leadership qualities have already been well documented...

Last year I wondered if the Devils were mistaken in playing superstar goalie Martin Brodeur so much in the regular season. Have to admit I am wondering the same thing this year. Or could it be a case of the Devils simply not having enough scorers and too many of those cookie-cutter, checking grinders they like to carry?

Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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