For seven solid months, September through April, NHL fans watch preseason and regular season hockey, from crumb-filled couches and recliners, beer-soaked bar stools and booths and overpriced arena seats, with some upper-level chairs probably costing the same as a meal of the concourse’s watered down booze, mustard and ketchup stained hotdogs and butter-smothered popcorn.
Men slam into boards, give and take brutal punches and build massive calf muscles while pushing their skates as fast as their numb feet can move for a score. Those seven months are fulfilling, unless your team sucks, but the postseason brings the best.
Yes, it is that time of year again when 16 NHL teams, all with the same clean slate, are fighting with the cold desire for the Stanley Cup.
Wednesday night, the opening evening of the 2011 playoffs, saw the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Windy City’s No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks fall 2-0 in Canadian territory to the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks, a team that has been talked about lately as very well being Stanley Cup earners.
With 10.9 seconds remaining, the Blackhawks were somewhat still trying to get something against the Canucks. But a few fights were starting to heat up at center ice and it was Vancouver’s game. Ryan Kesler won the faceoff against Jake Dowell in the defensive zone and it was over.
The Canucks sliced both of their goals in the first period, a little more than three minutes apart. Christopher Higgins made a 14-foot tip-in with assists by Kesler and Kevin Bieksa at 7:03 and Jannik Hansen netted a breakaway wrist shot with help from Mikael Samuelsson at 10:23.
The third was full of wicked close attempts, but fans didn’t end up cheering for goals made, rather penalties.
Vancouver had three: Bieksa got two minutes for interference, Daniel Sedin had two for hooking and Dan Hamhuis received two for roughing. Chicago’s Duncan Keith got two for roughing as well and Troy Brouwer had two for interfering with Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo.
Speaking of Luongo, the goalkeeper finished the first of seven games with his second career playoff shutout, saving 32 shots. Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 31/33 blocks in 58 minutes of play.
Game 2: Friday April 15, Chicago at Vancouver at 10:00pm ET
Canucks lead series 1-0
Stacey Kilpatrick is a new contributor to The Wife Hates Sports, and for the time being, will be writing up recaps of the NHL Playoffs.
Washington Capitals 2, New York Rangers 1 OT
With less than two minutes remaining in the first overtime period, New York defenseman Marc Staal botched a clearing pass, which eventually led to the game-winner – a one-timer ripped by Washington’s Alexander Semin (from Jason Arnott).
Game 2 – Friday April 15, 2011 – 7:00pm ET
Capitals lead series 1-0
Detroit Red Wings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2
The Red Wings scored four unanswered goals – including three in the second period – in a commanding 4-2 victory over the Coyotes during Game 1 in the Motor City. LW Johan Franzen had a goal and an assist for Detroit.
Game 2 – Saturday April 16, 2011 – 1:00pm ET
Red Wings lead series 1-0
Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 0
Marc-Andre Fleury headlined the night, with 32 saves and a shutout of Tampa Bay during Pittsburgh’s Game 1 victory. The Penguins broke the game open in the third period with three goals, including an empty netter, which sealed the deal in the final minute.
Penguins lead series 1-0
Nashville Predators 4, Anaheim Ducks 1
For one night, Mike Fisher would be known for something other than Carrie Underwood’s husband. The Nashville center scored two goals in the Predators’ 4-1 victory over the Ducks on Wednesday night.
Game 2 – Friday April 15, 2011 – 10:30pm ET
Predators lead series 1-0
Kevin Paul is the creator, founder and head writer for The Wife Hates Sports