Hoffman's Hockey Notes
By Patrick Hoffman
**Drafted on April 14**
- How in the world are the Lightning one loss away from being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets?
The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated everyone in the regular season en route to a league leading 128 points. They could not be beat and looked like they were well on their way to winning their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
With that said, can someone please tell me why they are one game away from being knocked out of the playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets? The Lightning are a team that is supposed to contend for a Cup and yet, here we are and they could end up getting swept.
This is not to take anything away from the Blue Jackets. Their big guns have stepped up in a big way, they have gotten solid goaltender from Sergei Bobrovsky, and they have found a way to keep the Lightning's high-octane offense relatively quiet.
While I realize that the Lightning are not dead yet, it will be interesting to see if they have four strikes in them to come back and win this series.
- Raise your hand if you thought that after three games, the New York Islanders would be up 3-0 on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
My hand would have certainly been down. Going into this series, I figured that may be it would go six or seven games.
Both teams had solid regular seasons, both teams have a bunch of good players, and each club were considered contenders going into the postseason. When you put all of these things together, you have the making of a series that could go the distance.
Well, here we are after three games and the Islanders are one win away from advancing to the second round. They've gotten timely goal scoring, have gotten extremely good goaltending from Robin Lehner, and they have found a way to shut down some of the game's best players and that is why we are where we are right now.
- The Hurricanes may be down 2-0 (As of April 14) n their series against the Caps, but they've shown they can play with them
There is no doubt that it is a tall order when a team that is considered an underdog is taking on the defending Stanley Cup champions. Heck, it's an even bigger task when said team has not been to the playoffs in a decade.
This is what we have when it comes to the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals. The defending Cup champions have a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes and look like they are ready to take care of business in Raleigh and move on to the second round.
With that said, the Hurricanes have actually played well in this series. They've gotten excellent goaltending from Petr Mrazek as he is perhaps the main reason why his team has been in both games they have played so far.
Things may some bleak, but with the Hurricanes set to play their first playoff game at home since 2009, you know that their fans will be rocking and rolling and ready to cheer on their boys.
- Calgary Flames' goaltender Mike Smith has been awesome between the pipes against the Colorado Avalanche
Coming into the playoffs, goaltending was the main concern for the Calgary Flames.
During the regular season, Flames' head coach Bill Peters basically split the time between Mike Smith and David Rittich. Neither of these guys really grabbed the starting role and ran with it, which means it was going to be interesting to see who they went with to start the playoffs.
Peters chose Smith and for now at least, Smith is showing Peters that he made the right choice. As of this writing (April 14) Smith is 1-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage.
While the series is not close to being over, Smith deserves a lot of credit for stepping up his game during the most important time of the season.
Patrick has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.