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Cullen: Road Teams Make a Statement on Saturday

Scott Cullen
5/1/2011 9:34:38 AM
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Boston blitzed Philadelphia in Game One at Philly and Nashville turned the tide in Game Two at Vancouver.

PHILADELPHIA-BOSTON
Goaltending was expected to be an advantage for the Bruins in the series and, for the first game at least, it proved to be the case, the Flyers' goaltending carousel continued as Brian Boucher was pulled from the Philadelphia net after allowing five goals on 23 shots.

David Krejci's four-point game had to be awfully encouraging for the Bruins, given how little the first-line centre produced in the first round against Montreal.  Krejci was having a strong series against the Flyers last year (three points, plus-2 in three games) before suffering a broken wrist that helped turn the tide in the series.

Boston's Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each contributed three points; Bergeron ranks second in the postseason with ten points, while Marchand is tied for fifth with eight.

The new leading scorer in the playoffs is Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, who added a pair of points to his total, like Spinal Tap's amplifiers, is up to 11.

Dennis Seidenberg had two assists and was a game-high plus-4 for the Bruins.  It was the first plus-4 game of Seidenberg's NHL career.

In his reduced role, Boston's Tomas Kaberle had no points and was plus-2, playing just 15:43.  He's played 17:14 or less in five of the last six games.

In a related story, the Boston power play continued its oh-for-the-playoffs run, going 0-for-5.

Blair Betts, Darroll Powe, Matt Carle and Chris Pronger were all minus-3 for Flyers. It's the first time all season that Pronger has been a minus-3.

James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards each recorded eight shots for the Flyers.  van Riemsdyk is leading the playoffs in shots on goal, with 51, and has five goals in eight games to show for it.

Interesting to note that the Bruins focused Zdeno Chara on the Flyers line of Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino.  Given the Flyers' depth up front, it's not easy to isolate for defensive matchups, but with Jeff Carter out, perhaps the decision is a little easier.

Cruising to an easy Game One win is a nice leg up in the series for Boston but, given last year's collapse, there won't be any complacency until the series is done, one way or the other.

VANCOUVER-NASHVILLE
The Predators dominated play, outshooting the Canucks 36-15 in regulation before the Canucks woke up and outshot Nashville 11-7 in overtime, but the Predators couldn't beat Roberto Luongo until 1:07 remaining in the third period, as defenceman Ryan Suter banked in a desperation shot off Luongo from behind the goalline.

Considering how Vancouver controlled play in Game One, the Predators' response was impressive, dominating territorially throughout the game.

The overtime hero for Nashville was Matt Halischuk, and while it's easy to peg Halischuk as an unlikely hero because he scored all of four goals and 12 points in 27 regular season games, though he has on occasion earned a more prominent role in the Predators' lineup. 

The last two regular season games were the first of the year in which Halischuk played more than 14 minutes and he's now topped that mark in three of the last four playoff games.  (In the five playoff games that he hasn't played more than 14 minutes, Halischuk has averaged 7:58 per game).

Halischuk was an overtime hero for Canada in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2008 and the goal was set up by Halischuk's junior teammate (with the Kitchener Rangers) Nick Spaling

Naturally, Alex Burrows scored again for the Canucks, his fourth goal in the last four games.  He's now tied for the Canucks' team lead with seven points in the playoffs.

While it's great to be getting production from Burrows, it remains troubling that Vancouver isn't getting any production from the Sedins or Ryan KeslerDaniel Sedin is tied with Burrows for the team lead with seven points, but has one lone goal in the last five games.  Henrik Sedin has one assist in those five games. 

Kesler does have five assists throughout the playoffs, including a couple in the last three games on Burrows' goals but, for a guy who scored 41 goals in the regular season, his playoff drought is getting rather lengthy.  His only goal in last year's playoffs was an empty-netter, so it's now been 22 games since Kesler scored on a goaltender in the NHL playoffs.

One of the Canucks' dominating facets in Game One was their work in the faceoff circle, which turned in Nashville's favour in Game Two, on the strengh of David Legwand going 18-5 in the dot (winning 78.3%).

Both goaltenders were outstanding, again, in Game Two.  Rinne didn't face the volume of shots that he did in the first game, but made several spectacular game-saving stops among his 32 saves on 33 shots, while Luongo held the Canucks in the game, blocking 44 of 46 shots sent his way.

Such is the importance of an overtime result, that could have easily gone either way, that Nashville will be so much more optimistic heading home tied 1-1 rather than staring at a daunting 2-0 series deficit. 

Now, it's up to the Canucks to take home ice advantage back and the first step along the way may be to score more than one goal.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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