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Dave Strader's Playoff Blog for May 4th

Thursday, 05.4.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Dave Strader\'s Playoff Blog for May 4th

Hello Panther fans!

I forgot to mention last time that one of the best surprises of the first round was seeing a healthy Pat Burns outside the St. Pete Times Forum prior to Game 4 in the Ottawa series. Pat has been battling cancer for about two years and he looked to be in good spirits. He told OLN's Christine Simpson that his health was good and he felt great. Best of luck to Pat Burns!

What a first round of playoffs in both conferences this year! In the East, the top four seeds prevailed. Certainly, the argument can be made that the four surviving teams all made better adjustments to the "new NHL". The best example of that is the Buffalo Sabres. Their overall speed and quickness took advantage of the slower Philadelphia defense. The Carolina Hurricanes have been a role model for the new NHL since the start of the season. The top seed Ottawa Senators have been a contender for many years with a combination of speed and skill. This year they added just enough grit and they clearly were the better team against the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. New Jersey turned things around late in the regular season and rode a 15 game win streak into the 2nd round against Carolina. The Devils' smaller forwards like Gionta, Gomez and Elias were very good players under the old rules, but they have dominated at times in the new NHL.

Having said all that, an age old characteristic of successful playoff teams is common among the surviving teams in the East: better goaltending. Which leads us to the West where the underdog won all four series. That's the first time that's happened in one conference since the NHL went to the current format in 1994. The goaltending numbers tell the story in the West as well. Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson yielded just one less goal than Detroit's Manny Legace, but Roloson faced 83 fewer shots. Anaheim's Ilya Bryzgalov had a "sick" save percentage of .968 which was better than Calgary's Mikka Kiprusoff at .921. Vesa Toskela of San Jose won the save percentage battle vs. Nashville's Chris Mason .927 to .901. Colorado's Jose Theodore got his save percentage to .910 with a stellar performance in the series clinching a Game 5 victory stopping 50 of 52 shots. Marty Turco had a series save percentage of just .868.

It's a wide open race among the 8 remaining teams for the 2006 Stanley Cup, but New Jersey has to be the overall favorite (unless Dominic Hasek returns healthy for the Ottawa Senators). My only 2nd round assignment at this point is Game 5 of the Anaheim-Colorado series for NBC on Mother's Day. So I'll be a fan just like all of you and be watching games as the field gets pared down to 4 teams over the next 2 weeks!

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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