The NHL playoffs 2010 may now look like the NHL’s worst nightmare. The 2010 NHL playoffs already lost the Capitals, and now they’ve lost the Penguins to boot. The culprit in both cases are the Montreal Canadiens, who had the worst record of any playoff team. Now they actually have a chance to bring Lord Stanley back to Montreal – and that may not even be the most shocking thing in the Eastern Conference. Before the postseason started, everyone figured the Capitals and Penguins would meet for the Eastern Conference championship. But the NHL playoffs could instead have the Canadiens, and the formerly down 3-0 Flyers meeting for the finals.
Last night was as surprising as any in recent playoff history, as the Canadiens and Penguins had Game 7, and the Flyers and Bruins actually had Game 6. The Penguins were supposed to advance by now, but they lost their chance to clinch in Game 6. But they weren’t as bad off as the Bruins, who were up 3-0 over the Flyers, and suddenly were two games away from elimination.
Common wisdom was that the NHL playoffs 2010 would have Pittsburgh and Boston finally advance last night. After all, the Penguins were the Penguins, and no team had lost a 3-0 lead in the NHL since 1975. But in the span of four hours, the defending Stanley Cup champs were gone, and the Bruins were a step away from infamy.
The Canadiens didn’t need Jaroslav Halak to carry them, although he did have 37 saves. Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury got chased in the middle of the second period, down 4-0. The Penguins never recovered and lost 5-2 in their last game at Mellon Arena.
Thanks to Montreal, the NHL playoffs 2010 have lost their two biggest cash cows. The league, NBC and Versus now dread the rest of the tournament, although they have other storylines. Halak and the Canadiens have been the Cinderellas of the tournament – but they still have nothing on the Flyers.
Philadelphia has lost several goalies all year, needed a shootout just to make the playoffs, and fell down 3-0 to the Bruins. But today, the series is evened at 3, after Michael Leighton led the way in his first start in two months. The 2-1 win was the first time in 35 years that a team down 3-0 forced a Game 7.
If the Flyers win once more, they will be the fourth team in sports history to come back from 3-0. What’s more, they would then host the Eastern Conference finals opener against Montreal. The NHL playoffs 2010 would then pit the seventh and eighth seeds in the East, while the top two seeds face off in the West.
The NHL playoffs 2010 certainly need a break after last night. But tomorrow, history could be made as the Flyers face the Bruins once more, to close this stunning second round.
Reuters Canada- “Canadiens shock Penguins, Flyers force Game Seven”