I heard James Duthie on the TSN 1050 radio the other day discussing some common media wishes during the marathon run that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In short, speaking on the behalf of his brethren, Duthie conveyed the following; media secretly hopes for a stronger Eastern Coast presence, good food will make or break a telecast and he expressed a strong desire for limited West coast overtime contests. Now much of what he said was in jest and let's not confuse working in connection to professional hockey as hard manual labour but you can certainly appreciate the amount of hours and work associated with nightly coverage.
Luckily there have been no shortages of developing stories to help fill the numerous hours of on air coverage. Let's take a quick look at some with a Star Selector spin:
Is this the last game ever to be played in the desert and does anyone in Phoenix care? I took a read through the Arizona Republic this morning and there was one article related to the potential re-location of the franchise. You know who else had one online article? Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's niece, who recently won the individual ACC women's golf title. Fact is there will be little fan cry to save the 'Yotes' and don't expect Phoenix to display the same passion and fire as the defending champion Blackhawks did last night. Look for the Red Wings to complete the sweep and your starting roster tonight should reflect that. Pavel Datsyuk is a must have in your starting five and consider Daniel Cleary as a nice sleeper pick.
Will Chris Kunitz's elbow change the momentum of the series? I often wonder how Mario Lemieux reacts when he watches players like Kunitz and Cooke commit such ridiculous actions when his 'franchise' player's only contribution to the first round series is relaying information to assistant coaches via a head set. Simon Gagne has a history of concussions and Kunitz went out of his way to target his head. For that fact alone I have a strong feeling that Tampa Bay wins tonight and my roster is going to be influenced by that inclination. Martin St. Louis has been a dominant force and Steven Stamkos is starting to show some jump. Look for these two stars to help Tampa even this series.
The Chara Factor. I am fully aware that I have highlighted Boston never overcoming a 2-0 series deficit. However, considering that they had never blown a 3-0 series lead before and the majority of their roster remained intact from last years debacle there is every reason to believe the Bruins organization is optimistic about revising history again this year. The Bruins are one strong performance away for making this a best of 3 and they still have yet to reach the level of play that made them many prognosticators favorite as the Eastern Conference's Stanley Cup representative. Look for Milan Lucic and Tomas Kaberle to finally find the scorers sheet and for all-world defensemen Zdeno Chara to dominate game 4. Montreal will need a huge effort from Carey Price if they have any hopes of traveling back to Boston with a 3 - 1 series advantage.
Have the Canucks awakened a sleeping giant? Noticeably absent through the first three games of the Western Conference re-match was the bad blood and hatred that usually dominates contests between these two rivals. One Raffi Torres hit later and we have ourselves the heated series everyone expected. If there was any need for any additional motivation (you would need to be on life support for this to be the case) look at the third period box score:
02:49 - CHI PPG - Patrick Sharp (2) Assists: P. Kane (4) & J. Toews (3)
13:21 - CHI PPG - Patrick Sharp (3) Assists: M. Hossa (1) & C. Campoli (1)
If you can come up with one reason why the Hawks number 1 power play unit is on the ice in the third period with a blow out lead other than the "we needed to get our top guys going" than good for you. Fact is, the Blackhawks were running up the score and as displayed by Patrick Sharp's over the top goal celebration (especially considering the lopsided score when it happened) sending the Canucks a message. Look for Vancouver to answer and play their best game of the series Thursday night. Henrik and Daniel Sedin will happily allow Alain Vigneault to match them up against anyone other than David Bolland and Roberto Luongo will bounce back with a stellar performance.