NHL

McKenzie: Canadian teams in the second round of the playoffs

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Bob McKenzie
4/29/2010 9:07:46 PM
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Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

In Round One, Jaroslav Halak versus Alexander Ovechkin really worked out well for the Montreal Canadiens, especially in Game Six and Game Seven. There was no question that Halak was right on top of his game, but I thought the Canadiens also game-planned well. Halak was able to see the shots, there wasn't a lot of movement back and forth, and Halak was able to square up to the shooters more often than not.

I think the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to be a little different challenge for Halak and the Canadiens. Sidney Crosby doesn't play the same sort of power game that Ovechkin plays and Crosby is a little more multi-dimensional in terms of how he can attack you.

Then there is the Evgeni Malkin factor. Crosby and Maklkin are on the same power play line, but when they are on the ice separately it's going to provide a little more pressure for Halak and the Canadiens to deal with.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

I don't know if a one-goal scorer has ever gotten as much attention as Dustin Byfuglien did in the series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks last year, and now we have marquee billing Byfuglien versus Roberto Luongo instead of Patrick Kane versus Luongo.

The fact of the matter is now that Byfuglien has been moved from defence up to forward with the return of Brian Campbell; he's going to park himself in front of the net. How the Canucks and Blackhawks deal with this whole drama is going to be integral in how the series unfolds and whether the Canucks maintain their discipline.

If I were general manager Mike Gillis of the Canucks, I'd be taking the tape from Wednesday night's game when Washington's Mike Knuble got called for goalie interference on the disallowed goal and thanking the National Hockey League for showing what the standard was heading into the Second Round. That was a tight standard, I've seen more goalie interference gotten away with in the past and we may see more goalie interference gotten away with in the future, especially in this series.

If you're the Canucks, that is exactly what you want to point to and say 'that will be perfect. If you want to afford Roberto Luongo that kind of protection in the crease, we'll take it.'

Jaroslav Halak (Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
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