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Game Seven Heaven – NHL Playoffs

Just when you thought the NHL playoffs couldn’t get more exciting, we are thrown into four scenarios that are facing a final game seven showdown. (Three are definite, while the Boston/Montreal series is still to be determined, game six is tonight).

A seven game series is not completely uncommon in the playoffs, but having half of the match-ups in the first round come down to the final game is something that hockey enthusiasts dream of.

If this is just a taste of what is next for the NHL playoffs, I cannot imagine what is in store for the later rounds. Hopefully they will be just as exhilarating as the opening series have been.

Buffalo Sabres vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The series turned ugly last game when Flyers captain Mike Richards blindsided Sabres center Tim Connolly headfirst into the boards, causing him to leave the game. Sabres players, coaches and fans were irate when no action was taken against Richards. The momentum swung to the Flyers as they were able to come back from a 3rd period deficit and push the series to a seventh game after an OT goal on Buffalo’s home ice. The final game will be decided in Philadelphia and while many would think that they have the advantage playing at home, 8 out of the last 10 game-sevens, ended with the AWAY team claiming victory.

The Sabres will also get back their top scorer in Derek Roy who hasn’t played since December, suffering from a torn quadricep. For the Flyers, the goaltender carousel continues to turn as a starter for game seven has yet to be named. They have used three different goaltenders in the series and cannot find the support that they have been searching for in the pipes. The exact problem that occurred throughout the season was not solved and progressed right into the playoffs. So who will take the series tonight in the “City of Brotherly Love”? Ryan Miller comes up huge, Derek Roy scores and the Sabres walk away with a huge upset against the Flyers.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks

The youngest captain in the NHL, Jonathan Toews, has been a crucial piece to the Blackhawks comeback in the series.

Coming into the playoffs, the Canucks had everything going for them. They finished with most points in the NHL, their defensemen were returning from injury, goaltender Roberto Luongo was playing great in net and the playoffs arrived just in time. The bad news? The Canucks were paired up against the Chicago Blackhawks, not only the defending Stanley Cup champions, but the same team that knocked them out of playoff contention two years in a row. To make matters worse for the Canucks, they had a three games to zero lead in the series and completely fell flat. Luongo looks like a piece of swiss-cheese in net, they can’t seem to put the puck in the net and the Stanley Cup champs, are looking more and more unlike the eighth place team that limped into the postseason.

Even on the road, how can you pick against the Hawks? I say it every year, it doesn’t matter about seeding, always fear the defending champs. They know what it is like to hoist the most prized possession in all of sports and even down in the dirt, they were able to get back up and put up a fight. If the Canucks can’t pull this out, the city of Vancouver will be flooded with tears for the third straight year and the Hawks will  be their newly acclaimed rival. Even though I would love to see a comeback for the young guns like Kane and Toews, the Canucks will edge this one out.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Even without superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have been able to keep pace in the Eastern Conference. Like the Hawks, the Lightning were able to avoid elimination in game six at home and push the series to single-deciding game. Martin St.Louis is playing the top notch hockey (4 goals, 4 assists) and the Lightning seem to be as fired up as anyone.

The Penguins have put together some ugly wins, but nonetheless came away with exactly that, a win. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been inconsistent, solid in the net one night and the next, can’t stop a puck the size of a soccer ball. This game will hinge on the powerplay of the Penguins, who ranked 25th during the season and have only one powerplay goal in the playoffs. If Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson can put on a show like he did last game, the game will be one-sided. Young sensation Steven Stamkos will be a huge factor in this game as the Lightning advance and send the Penguins packing.

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