With all Star Selector Hockey Night in Canada games on hiatus for a few days it has given me the chance to; relinquish control of our TV remote control to my wife, catch up on some sleep and reflect on the playoffs to date. I'll preface this by saying that while these thoughts are somewhat random in nature they all centre around this years Stanley Cup playoffs and are not listed in any particular order.
4. I really hope that the playoff energy in Smashville helps that organization turn the corner. Nashville is an extremely fun town to visit and the rink is a stones throw away from Broadway Avenue making it a favorite destination for players, media and fans alike. The NHL is better off with a team in Tennessee although I am not completely sold on the see of yellow quite yet.
5. While HBO's 24/7 provided the NHL was some of the best PR hype they have had in years I get the feeling most teams will politely say, 'thanks but no thanks' if they are asked to be featured in upcoming seasons. The show will need a few more years to rival the dreaded Madden Curse (for you non EA Sports football enthusiasts the Madden curse happens to the cover player who either gets injured or has an off year directly after being featured on the games cover) but take a look at what happened to Pittsburgh and Washington's Stanley Cup aspirations after the show finished airing. It might be too early to apply an HBO curse at this point but hockey players are notoriously superstitious so I wouldn't be surprised if some teams take a pass next year.
6. Like a bear, Milan Lucic's playoff hibernation ended in game 4 against the Flyers. Watch out Tampa Bay and good luck handling the premier power forward in hockey. Lucic is going to play a major role in leading Boston into the Stanley Cup finals.
7. P.K Subban is a superior hockey player when plays right on the edge of cockiness. There were stretches during the regular season where the first year defenceman toned down his act a little and his play suffered. During the playoffs, Subban played right on the edge and was extremely effective for the Habs. His game 7 tying goal celebration said it all - a subtle shrug to quiet the Boston crown but nothing over the top.
8. Roberto Luongo is playing a lot better than most critics and pundits are giving him credit for. For whatever reason Luongo elite level status has been questioned consistently through most of this postseason but his stats are telling a different story. 8 wins, 2 shutouts, 2.25 goals against average and .917 save percentage and these include the Chicago blowout loses. Name me one player on the Canucks roster with the exception of Ryan Kesler that played well during games 4 & 5 before you start hanging those games on Bobby Lou.
9. The Joe Thornton vs Ryan Kesler matchup will not be one to miss. My gut feeling is that the winner of this head to head battle will determine whose team moves on to the Stanley Cup winner. You'll see my choice in the next point.
10. It is going to be a Boston vs Vancouver Stanley Cup final with the Canucks winning in 6 games.
By the way if you haven't figured out the answer to the question in my first thought the players are American - Brian Leetch and Europeans - Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Evgeni Malkin.