As much as I petulantly love seeing the Thrashers getting waxed (congratulations Marian Hossa - you are the new Alexei Yashin....although late word is that Yashin is reluctant to give up the crown), and even though Ilya Kovalchuk can be a brat himself it was still sweet to see him get frustrated and lay a beating on (coward) Sean Avery last night. Calling Avery a punk doesn't really fit; his bogus tough-guy style is beyond annoying. I particularly enjoyed how Kovalchuk finally had had enough and the two sort of squared off but Avery didn't quite want to go as he was trying to get the young Atlanta star to drop his gloves first. Seeing Avery skate off the ice with a fat eye and bloody lip was doubtless small consolation to all 12 Atlanta Thrashers fans but for the rest of us it was sweet. Atlanta looks horrid and I obviously failed to weigh the Keith Tkachuk factor before calling this series.
Calgary Flames - they finally showed up. I hesitate to break it down into the home/away split, because it seems too easy but...damn, they really have made a pattern of that all year. They played like scared kids in Detroit and played like a team with desire last night at the Saddledome. Quite literally in the first four minutes of the game they were better than they had been all series. The Flames should have no reason to think Detroit is a much superior club than they are - the Wings' top line is extremely talented (Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom) but overall I think Calgary is the more talented club. Jarome Iginla had no excuse for his invisible showing over the first two games so having him get the game-winner was important for him personally as well as for the team. What most impressed me was in the first period with the game scoreless the team was faced with killing a double-minor (Keith Primeau high-sticking). They were smart and aggressive and didn't allow one shot during the penalty kill.
Didn't get a chance to see the other games - The "2-1 series" between Vancouver and Dallas (nearly every game they play ends up 2-1) doesn't excite me enough right now to divert me from the other games, but I am happy to see the Canucks take a 3-1 lead. I'd like to catch more of the Anaheim/Minnesota series but with the next game at 10:30EDT on Thursday night I'll have to hold off.
Big night tonight with four games, most notably the Rangers try to sweep away the Thrashers:
|Atlanta at NY Rangers||7:00 PM|
|New Jersey at Tampa Bay||7:00 PM|
|Buffalo at NY Islanders||7:30 PM|
|Nashville at San Jose|| 10:00 PM|
For a team with some major holes, the Lightning have really been impressive. Vinny Lecavalier is frightening right now as to how good he is, he plays a complete game and is not afraid to skate into danger (take note, Joe Thornton). If the Lightning can get even slightly above-average goaltending the rest of the way they can beat New Jersey.