Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Sunday night:
The best goaltending story of the night was not Cory Schneider, it was Corey Crawford, the guy at the other end.
We get so wrapped up in the Vancouver Canucks drama of who's playing, who's not playing, and who should be playing, but I thought Crawford was terrific in this hockey game and he only got better as the game wore on. He gave up one goal in the third period facing 10 shots and in overtime the ice was completely and totally tilted in favour of the Canucks.
The Blackhawks couldn't get the puck out of their own end, and it wasn't spectacular goaltending in the sense of 'Wow look at that save that he made', it was just that he got on top of rebounds, he didn't kick them out; he was tight into the net and they weren't able to get anything by him.
Crawford faced 12 shots in overtime and really gave the ultimate 'give your team a chance to win' performance. You just had to know that the longer it went with Vancouver not being able to score with all that pressure, the first time they go the other way they're going to get a fortuitous bounce, and Chicago did.
Great Accomplishments for Tootoo, Nashville Predators
Jordan Tootoo, surprisingly, was the key [for the Nashville Predators, in their first-round series against the Anaheim Ducks].
Tootoo has always been an agitating type of player who can be a factor in a hockey game, and sometimes hurt his team with bad penalties. But Tootoo has been a new man in these playoffs, and he was absolutely terrific playing on that line with Jerred Smithson and Nick Spaling.
He was really a key guy at both ends of the ice, going head to head with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan; terrific effort.
Here is a player who, in midseason, entered the National Hockey League Substance Abuse and Behavioural Modification Program; checked himself in voluntarily. [Now] he says he just feels a world of difference emotionally and physically, sees the game differently, and plays the game differently.
In a way it's almost an analogy for the whole franchise. Remember it wasn't that long ago, four years ago when Jim Ballsillie was going to buy the Nashville Predators and try and move them to Hamilton.
That was a franchise that looked like might not be in Nashville long term. And instead, what we've got is a packed crowd with everybody up during the TV timeouts chanting 'Go Preds Go!'
The atmosphere in Nashville is off the charts and they finally get to the second round, so for David Poile and Barry Trotz, the only general manager and coach the franchise has ever known, it's a remarkable achievement.
It will be great for hockey in Nashville to get that chance to go into a second round with a real legitimate threat to try and get to the conference final and generate momentum for that marketplace.