There are three game seven’s going on over the next day and a bit. The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals have been slugging it out from Bunker Hill to Washington Monument. The New Jersey Devils have been avoiding rats and plush toy in their throw down with the Southeast Division champion Florida Panthers from Snooki’s backyard to God’s waiting room. Daniel Alfredsson‘s Ottawa Senators have been filibustering King Henrik’s attempts to push his team to round two.
But what does it all mean to win or lose:
For the Washington Capitals, to win means they have a chance at still being mostly intact in June, August and October. If they lose, having already shed a coach this season, and barely managed to avoid sullying the reputation of one of the most successful coaches in CHL history, the ramifications could go from top to bottom. General Manager George McFee has to be feeling the heat, and if he goes any new general manager is probably going to excuse the entire coaching staff. The changes however shouldn’t stop there, this team has not escaped the second round in the Ovechkin era, and while goaltending doesn’t appear to be a problem, team character is very much an issue, as is the durability of key players. If I were sitting in the corner office I can honestly say there’s at least five or six guys who would be moved if at all possible, most of them making above the league average.
The Florida Panthers are honestly in the perhaps the second most envious position of all the teams in entering a game seven. No one expected what some have termed a “frankenteam” to even make the playoffs, much less capture the division title. There’s a lot of young home grown players like Gudbransen who haven’t been to the playoffs at all, and this is good seasoning that will stand them in good stead. If they win, great they get to host at least two more games and remind the state of Florida they do have a hockey team a little longer.
The New York Rangers if they lose can thank the Vancouver Canucks for bowing out first and taking the “curse” of the Presidents Trophy off their hands. But, with their defense allowing as few shots as they do, and the offense getting towards the top of the NHL this year, one has to take a look at the crease. Lundqvists numbers in the post season are worse each year than his regular season numbers and that’s just not a winning formula. If they win, it’s what’s expected but also the road get’s easier, of all the teams in remaining, the Rangers have had better success against everyone else in the past regular season than they did the Senators.
For the Ottawa Senators like the Panthers they have a lot of playoff rookies on the roster, and not many folks picked them to make the playoffs. Unlike the Sons of Sunrise, the core of the Senators is older. Daniel Alfredsson is the heart and soul of his team, and while discounting the work of and value of Spezza, Cowen, Anderson and others is a bit silly, he’s the catalyst and no longer young. A win brings them deeper than almost anyone would have predicted a month ago, a loss is one less opportunity for Alfredsson to hoist the Cup for the Senators.
The Boston Bruins honestly have the least pressure. They won last year, they came within just a couple points of last years points total, and they won the division and took the series the distance despite injuries severely degrading the reliability of the defense and key offensive players being both out and walking wounded. If they win, it’s expected and no one in the city will complain, but it’s not going to turn into a case where hubris will immediately take over. If the do lose, well, there’s always next year, given some of the players signed in Juniors and out of college, don’t be surprised if the second tier players on the team are a bit different next year.
The New Jersey Devils have an amazing threesome of top forwards, Parise, Kovalchuk, Elias, and some good support in the other nine. Unfortunately it won’t be they who decide the game. Martin Brodeur could have retired last year, two years ago or possibly five and still be known as one of the greatest goaltenders ever. What remains to be seen is if he can get his team over the first round hurdle won last time. If he does, reputation takes over and players who face him for the rest of the year will remember exactly what it is to face a goalie who’s that damn good. If they don’t get it done, MB30 has likely played his last game in the NHL, and lost his last home game. If the team goes forward, the chances that Parise is retained this summer have to go up, and in the wake of the likely departure of Brodeur, the team will need a legitimate home grown hero.