2013 NHL Playoffs Diary: Day 14 A Look At Tonight’s Game Sevens

May 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic (17) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (34) during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Boston 2-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Playoffs are in full swing and the second round match ups are almost completely set. In the West we know the San Jose Sharks will be taking on the Los Angeles Kings while the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against the Detroit Red Wings. Over in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Ottawa Senators while neither opponent in the second series has been decided.

Last night both the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs won crucial game sixes to extend their match ups to series deciding game sevens to be played tonight. The Leafs and Bruins kick things off tonight at 7 from Boston with the Rangers facing off in Washington at 8. Here is a brief look at the match ups:

Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins 7 p.m. ET (TV:CNBC)

The Maple Leafs looked primed for an early exit after falling behind three games to one against Boston, but Leafs goaltender James Reimer led Toronto to consecutive 2-1 victories stopping 72 of 74 shots faced along the way. Strong goalie play has been key to the series as Reimer and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask bring into tonight’s deciding games, goals against averages of 2.58 and 2.28 respectively.

While goaltending has been a big story, the overriding drama of the series has involved the key parts of the trade that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto back in 2009. The trade has long been viewed as a steal for Boston, but if you were looking at this series alone, it would appear that Toronto got the most out of the deal.

Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, the two players the Bruins drafted with the picks they received from Toronto, have virtually been non-factors thus far. Both Seguin and Hamilton have failed to register any points in the series and Hamilton has even been a healthy scratch in four out of the six games. Kessel on the other hand has three goals, one assist, a plus one rating and two game winning goals.

Some other series notes:

  • Toronto has not advanced past the 1st round since 2004 when they beat Ottawa in seven games
  • Roberto Luongo was one of the many who have enjoyed Reimer’s stellar play over the last couple games. Luongo displayed his excitement in tweet form after Toronto’s 2-1 victory yesterday:
  • The Bruins were forced to spend last night in Toronto due to their plane having a mechanical issue.

The Pick:

Bruins win 4-3, Seguin nets a pair including the game winner.

New York Rangers at Washington Capitals 8 p.m. ET (TV: NBC Sports)

I would like to take this time to justify why I am rooting for the Washington Capitals in this series. I know, as a Florida Panthers fan, it is borderline blasphemy to be pulling for a Southeast Division rival who has been handing the Panthers their sneakers for the past ten years, BUT here is the thing, the Panthers and Capitals are essentially no longer division rivals.  Next year when the new divisions come into play, the Capitals and Panthers will be in separate divisions therefore I do not feel as obligated to root against the Caps.

May 10, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates with the puck during the game against the New York Rangers in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The bigger reason why I am rooting for the Caps is this, I am a fan of history. I love the feeling you get when you are witnessing something that you know will someday be etched in the memories of sports fans. Those moments that you will tell your kids about. There are on rare occasions special moments in sports where you are aware of the moments greatness as it is happening. It is akin to having the awareness that you are dreaming while you dream.

There have only been a few of those moments in my life. Watching the Sox come back from being down 3-0 to the Yankees in 04, witnessing LeBron realize his greatness, and every Matt Harvey start this year for the Mets (I am not so sure with this one but as a Met fan, it certainly feels like something special every time Harvey takes the mound).

The 2009 NHL playoff series between the Caps and the Penguins was one of these moments. You had the games two best players, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, at the peak of the powers trading punches in the form of hat tricks, and you got the feeling that the winner of the Stanley Cup would come down to the winner of this heavyweight battle for years to come, that it would be the NHL’s version of Magic v. Bird.

Something happened however and since that epic series, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals have underachieved, and Sidney Crosby has suffered a slew of injuries that have kept him away from the ice. Both players have fought through their respective struggles and appear to be close to their peak forms. If everything breaks right we could have a Sid vs Ovi Eastern Conference finals a matchup that would be absolutely fascinating from every angle and that would also greatly increase hockey’s relevance to the greater sports world.

So thats why the Caps HAVE to win tonight. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!!!!

The Pick:

Washington wins 5-0 with Ovechkin falling a hat trick short of the “Ovechtrick“. Also in the next few weeks news will come out that while partying late into the night following the Rangers game six win, Henrik Lundqvist was taken hostage by a Swedish model who had fallen into debt to the Russian Mob thus forcing the Rangers replace Henrik in net with his twin brother Joel Lundqvist in an effort to keep the news private so as not to cost Henrik his lucrative deal with Head and Shoulders.

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