Stanley Cup Playoffs In Full Flight – 2009 Promises To Score High

alex-ovechkinBy Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond, staff writer

WASHINGTON (RPRN) 04/16/09- The puck dropped last night marking the beginning of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Four series opened yesterday including three games in the Eastern Conference and one in the Western. RushPRnews will be covering the Eastern Conference until the playoffs reach the semi-finals. If last night was any indication of the caliber of hockey that fans can expect then the 2009 playoffs will surely be one to remember.

Rangers ‘Capitalize’ on Theodore’s poor goaltending.

New York Rangers 4, Washington Capitals 3

If the Washington Capitals think that they can make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup then they better have a long talk with goaltender José Theodore. After all, this is a team that has all the necessary weapons to be a serious playoff contender.

Putting up points is rather easy when you have the league’s leading goal scorer in Alexander Ovechkin directing traffic. But the super sniper also has the uncanning ability to set up teammates and create scoring chances, making him even more valuable.

Look no further than Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series against the Rangers in which Ovechkin had a pair of assists for the second-seeded Capitals. Tomas Fleischmann, Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin all scored, while Ovechkin desperately tried to add his name to the list taking 13 shots on net. He was a silver lining for Washington and named the game’s first star. Little consolation, as the Capitals trail the Rangers 1-0 in the best of seven game series.

This loss was particularly difficult to grasp considering the fact that the home team outshot their opponents 35-21 and still managed to get outscored. The moral of the story: you need solid goaltending behind your sharpshooters and offensive playmakers to have real designs on Lord Stanley.

Scoring points is great, but when you can’t stop the other side from doing the same thing- it’s a problem. The Capitals’ inconsistency in goal is a problem.

Brandon Dubinsky’s tie-breaking goal with 8:17 remaining in regulation given the Rangers a 4-3 victory is direct proof. Most of the goals from Broadway’s team should have been routine saves. Instead the ended up in the back of the net and forced Ovechkin and company to trail before clawing their way back early in the third.

Questions surfaced prior to the game about which Theodore would show up? We got the answer early much to the disappointment of the Caps and their supporters.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau decided to leave Theodore in spite of a sloppy performance.
Fans at Verizon Center were nervous each time the Rangers moved down the ice and you can’t blame them. Theodore let in four goals on 21 shots. Clearly not the performance needed nor expected against a Rangers team hardly known as an offensive juggernault.

The Ranger’s problems are the total opposite. Although New York made it into the post season as the seventh-seed, they lack offensive firepower. Surely, the Rangers will have to rely heavily on their No. 1 goalie to be sharp and close the door on one of the league’s most gifted offensive units. But the team will also have to count on the services of bad boy Sean Avery, Nik Antopov and Markus Naslund. So far, Henrik Lundqvist is doing his part having made 32 saves for the Rangers.

Game 2 Saturday at Verizon Center.

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1
The Pittsburgh Penguins surged through the second half of the season after dropping dead weight in the form of former coach Michel Therrien. Now, the Pens resemble last season’s team and that’s a good thing.

Last year around this time, Sid the kid and the Pens beat the Flyers to win the Eastern Conference. After game 1, there is not much reason to think that Pittsburgh won’t be able to duplicate last year’s success after crushing Philadelphia 4-1 in the first game of their best-of-seven series.

Only Simon Gagne’s late tally spoiled Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout bid. The Pens lead the series 1-0

Game 2 Friday at Mellon Arena

New Jersey 4, Carolina 1The Devils lead the series 1-0
Game 2 Friday at Prudential Center

Vancouver Canucks 2, St. Louis Blues 1
The Canucks lead the series 1-0
Game 2 Friday at GM Place

Photo of Alexander Ovechkin celebrating courtesy of the National Hockey League.

Read all of Bryan’s stories here

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