The series I predicted to be the best of the first round disappointed me, but not completely. In my first-round preview, I picked a healthy Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to defeat the Flyers in seven games and eventually reach the Stanley Cup finals. I also said I was rooting hard for the Flyers because I’m a Crosby hater, and I’m just a fan of Philly anyway. But the Flyers went on a goal-scoring rampage and took out Pittsburgh in six.
Was it entertaining? Of course. There were 56 goals in the six games. There were three fights (normally, you don’t see too many fights in the playoffs). There were 317 penalty minutes (258 of those in Games 3 and 4), 11 game misconducts (ejections) and plenty of extracurricular activity after every single whistle. The Flyers scored eight goals in a game twice. The Penguins reached 10 in Game 4. If you want to see the puck find the back of the net, it was the first-round matchup to watch.
For the average hockey fan, or just anyone else who tuned in to watch any of the games, the entire series was completely entertaining. For the hardcore hockey fan, I think it was an extremely poorly played series.
Being a goalie, I don’t want to see 56 goals scored in a six-game series, or even a seven-game series. I never want to see a team score eight goals in a playoff game, let alone 10. The only scoreless period during the six games was the third period of Game 5. A goal was scored in 17 of the 18 periods played. Nice defense/goaltending. I love the pressure of going into the third period scoreless where one lucky bounce could lead to the lone goal of the game.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s save percentage was .871. Of goalies who qualified during the regular season, the worst save percentage was .900. I know six games is a small sample size, but it’s awful either way. And his team won the series! That’s not good hockey.
Don’t get me wrong, this series probably got great TV ratings. It wasn’t boring by any stretch of the imagination. It was actually the most entertaining series I’ve ever seen. That’s not my point. Scoring a lot of goals doesn’t mean the teams are playing well.
The Flyers’ Claude Giroux set a franchise record with his 14 points (6g, 8a). There were only 20 goals scored in the five-game series between the Kings and Canucks, and Giroux was a part of 14 goals in his crazy series.
I know it sounds like I’m hating on both teams. There’s never a good reason to not hate on Pittsburgh in this part of town. I just prefer to see close 2-1 games in the playoffs. The 8- and 10-goal outbursts can be fun, but they just don’t do it for me.