Thursday, April 28, 2011

On To Farther Glories: Lightning Advance Past Pittsburgh, Face Washington Next

That was my attempt to fit the entire content of the post into the title.

What a night. Was that a long final three minutes, or what? Did it feel like... I don't know... seven years long?

Okay, so the Lightning beat the Penguins 1-0 in Game Seven to advance to the second round of the playoffs, and will next face the first seeded Washington Capitals. I have a lot to get to, so I'm going to start jumping around to everything that's flowing through me right now.

First I'd like to give a big hearty screw you to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for showing Game One to Game Six, but not touching Game Seven. You public broadcasting fiends! You get me addicted to actually watching Lightning playoff games on television in my very own home, and then you switch it off! You're the anti-crack dealers. Instead of getting me hooked and then jacking up the price, you just said "Free sample's up, no more crack for you."

Well, screw you, CBC! I had to listen to the damn thing on internet radio! The least you could have done was stream it like you did the last few games that went head to head with the Boston-Montreal games. But I guess  some public broadcasting bean-counter in Toronto said "Ah, no one will watch it. They'll all be watching the Habs and Bruins. It won't earn back it's production costs to stream it online, so don't even bother. See if TSN wants it."

Thanks a lot!

Now I see TSN gets the Caps-Bolts series. So it's going to be two weeks or less of radio and highlights for me. Joy. I swear, we need stronger Canadian teams so that the Lightning can play them all the way through the playoffs and I can see all the damn games.

Anyway, Pittsburgh was a real-deal opponent. They just weren't the opponent they might have been if they had had all of their players. But we wouldn't have wanted that, would we?

Let's face it, I think the majority of fans following the Lightning were very glad the Bolts didn't have to face a Penguins team with Crosby, Malkin or Cooke in the lineup. So instead of the high-powered team we have all come to fear, revile or revere, we were instead treated to a match against a team of grinders with a very good defence core and a great goalie. Sometimes those teams go deep in the playoffs, but not this time.

I hope someday the Lightning, when they are a bit more established and confident, are able to match up against the Pens at full strength, just to see them really go. I think this year we're happy to see the Lightning squeek through against a huntin' unit, because years of futility have ruined our expectations and self esteem.

But one way or the other the Lightning succeeded, mainly on the strength of a calm, patient goaltender, some hot scoring, and the massive heart and mighty balls of Martin St. Louis. That guy is just amazing. Four goals, four assists in seven games. He somehow ended up a minus player, but that happens when you're always on the ice.

The other guy I wanted to mention is Sean Bergenhieim, who got the Game Seven winner, using the same designed play that he and Dominic Moore scored with in Game Six. And right now, Breakaway Bergie is looking positively Fedotenkoian right now. A little statistical similarity: Feds had 17 goals in the regular season in 2003-2004, then 12 in the playoffs. Bergenheim had fourteen goals in the reg, and three in one round of playoffs, with a nose for timely scoring. Think about it.

Okay, so that was a blatant jinx, which I've already been guilty of this season. I'll have more about that in a few days at

So having discarded the Penguins, the Lightning move on to the Capitals, which should be next level, batwing-sandwich crazy. The Lightning had a seven-game dramafest with the depleted Pens, and now they're going to face the flailing steel tentacle-monster that is the Washington Capitals, whom I believe have all their stars in the lineup. And they're rested.

The good news is that the Lightning beat the Caps a few times this season already, so there's no fear or mystique. After all, what is a playoff series, really? It's just a whole bunch of games against a really good team that you respect but also completely hate. Awesome! Ape-shit crazy. The over/under for suspensions in this series is seven.

But at the same time, I really wish the Habs had won against the Bruins, so it would be Caps-Habs and Bolts-Flyers. Tampa and Philly would be a great series. High scoring? Yeah, maybe. Highest scoring? Could be. That would be the most violent shoot-out since the bridge battle in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

But I can always hope for a Flyers-Bolts Eastern Final. Was that a jinx? It was? Okay, time to move on.

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