Through one game in each second round series, here are a few observations on one individual performance that has to have fans excited and one performance, individual or intangible, that will be a cause for concern.
Good – Matt Cooke
A huge hit on Andrei Markov took the defenseman out of Game 1 and quite possibly the series. Cooke added an assist on a key goal that set the Penguins apart from the Habs and his bone-cruncher will have the rest of Montreal’s defensemen looking over their shoulders the rest of the way.
Bad – Jordan Staal
Not that he played poorly, but if he’s out for an extended period, Pens supporters have to be worried. On a team built around a select few stars, losing one of the top dogs can be devastating. While losing Staal isn’t as big as losing Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, the Selke nominee will leave a gaping hole on the penalty kill.
Good – Mike Cammalleri
A plus player in Game 1 despite his team being outscored by three, Cammalleri’s wicked top shelf shot to make it 3-2 was a clutch goal at a time when the Pens could have started pulling away. Cammalleri has to be scoring left, right and center for the Habs to pull off their second upset. Good start for the winger, now he just needs to get more shots on net.
Bad – Jaroslav Halak
I’ll blame his subpar Game 1 performance on fatigue, but it’s enough to make Habs fans nervous. Will exhaustion be a factor in just the opening frame or will the fact he faced so much Round 1 rubber affect him the rest of the way? The Penguins are much more polished than Washington and you know they won’t be held to just 24 shots each game.
Good – David Krejci
As good as Miroslav Satan was on the scoresheet, I thought Krejci was Boston’s best forward in Game 1. He only scored one goal (a real nice and patient move), but he made a lot of plays on the forecheck and backcheck that makes me believe the Krejci from 2008-09 has returned.
Bad – Matt Hunwick
Received a lot of attention in Round 1 for his offense, but he looked a little lost at times in Game 1 of the second round. While Daniel Briere’s splitting-of-the-defense-goal can’t be blamed on just one guy, the fact Hunwick was the last man back beaten by that breakaway and Dan Carcillo’s in overtime is a little disconcerting.
Good – Daniel Briere
Usually when a team loses two stars like Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne it’s a death knell, but with the Flyers’ tremendous depth up front it just opens the door for someone else to step through. While he wasn’t the best Flyer on the ice, his two timely points may have made him the most valuable.
Bad – Brian Boucher
Coming off a brilliant series in which he let in more than two goals only once, Boucher saw five go past in Game 1 against Boston and made a few questionable moves with the puck. In fact, the overtime marker was a result of an erroneous play on the disc. This was an area of concern coming into the post-season for the Flyers and when it comes to successful playoff goaltending, it’s all about consistency.
Good – Pavel Datsyuk
Datsyuk was the Wings’ best player when it mattered most in Round 1 and kept the train going with two key assists in Game 1 against San Jose when Detroit was clawing at a three-goal deficit. Your best players need to be just that and after starting the playoffs with two points and a minus-1 rating in three games, this star has returned to form.
Bad – Power play
Say what you will about the officiating, but the bottom line is the Red Wings went 0-for-5 with the man advantage with only four shots on net. Sure, the Sharks’ PK ranked fifth in the regular season and allowed only two goals-against in Round 1, but if Detroit is to win this series it has to make these count.
Good – Joe Thornton
Still wasn’t the best Joe on the ice, but he looked better to kick off Round 2 than he did in Round 1. You can’t expect him to produce the same in the playoffs because of his history, but you can expect him to build through a process and (hopefully) get better as the team gets more comfortable playing in the second season.
Bad – Evgeni Nabokov
Time and again he proves he’s not a big-game goalie and was helped deeply in Round 1 as San Jose dominated Colorado in the shots department. The fact Nabokov let the Wings crawl back into a game they trailed 3-0 is troublesome, not to mention how he only faced 23 shots.
Good – Patrick Kane
In a rough night for the whole team, Kane at least showed some jump early and had he put in his empty-net chance in the first period the game may have taken a different course. He won’t miss those chances very often.
Bad – Dustin Byfuglien
OK, so pretty much everything went wrong, but Byfuglien was supposed to distract Roberto Luongo and instead was a non-factor in Game 1. Any traffic that did get in front of Luongo was handled by the goalie with calmness and ease.
Good – Roberto Luongo
Against the team that rocked him last year and in the hostile building his 2009 season ended in, Luongo opened as strong as he could have and has to have Canucks fans feeling confident.
OK, I've got nothing. When you win 5-1 on the road to open a series and do it in such a dominating fashion as Vancouver did, I don’t see how you can take anything negative away.
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
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Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web editor. His blog appears regularly.
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