Thursday, 10 April 2008

Opening Night Reactions

What a night! The NHL Playoffs opened last night with four games, and none of them disappointed (unless you're a Senators fan). It was intense. There was drama. There was a penalty shot. There was overtime. There were big saves. There were flashy goals. There were winners, and there were losers. And perhaps the best news of it all is that there's still two months of playoff hockey left!

Here are some soundbytes after last night's games.

"For the last 15 games he's been the best goalie in the National Hockey League so I am not surprised," said Penguins head coach Michel Therrien of his goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Obviously we got outplayed," said Senators head coach Bryan Murray after his team lost to Pittsburgh 4-0 and was outshot 35-26.

"Our power play killed us," said Senators centreman Jason Spezza. The Senators went 0-for-7 with the man-advantage, including two 5-on-3 opportunities.

"The intensity was at its best. Players were at their best," Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire said. The Wild lost 3-2 in overtime to the Avalanche in one of the best opening games in memory.

"This guy has got nothing but dedication and heart towards winning," Colorado Avalanche winger Ryan Smyth said of Joe Sakic.

"It's the playoffs. It doesn't matter who you play," said New York Rangers centreman Scott Gomez regarding playing his former team.

"I didn't know he was around. You have to freeze that. It's not the way I play. I like to keep the play moving. I made a mistake, and I cost us," said New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur about his gaffe that allowed Ryan Callahan to score a shorthanded go-ahead goal.

"It's a long grind, and you need bounces, you need luck," said Calgary Flames forward Stephane Yelle. Yelle scored two goals against San Jose in the opening game of the series - his first goals since January 22.

"We definitely have to be more hungry, more of that dog-with-a-bone mentality," said San Jose Sharks forward Ryan Clowe. Clowe had both of San Jose's goals in the 3-2 loss to Calgary.

Perhaps what caught my eye, and ear, was the song played when the Minnesota Wild scored. I had never heard this before, and was quite impressed with their fans, aka the "Team of 18000". Listen in:

I'm sure it's louder on the ice as well.

International Updates: The American women defeated Team Canada 4-2 yesterday at the Women's Wold Championship, meaning that they'll meet each other on Saturday for world supremacy once again.

Natalie Darwitz had a pair of goals for the Americans, while Caitlin Cahow and Meghan Duggan had singles. Jayna Hefford and Kelly Bechard had the two Canadian goals in the loss.

The win by the Americans also sets up the bronze medal game between Finland and Switzerland. The Swiss are trying for their first medal ever at the Women's World Championship while Finland looks to win their first bronze medal.

Playoff Pool Updates: For those readers who have entered the Hockey Blog In Canada PLAYOFF LINE POOL, there is a leaderboard to the right. Congratulations goes out to Justin St. Louis as he picked up eight points from his line last night, thanks in large part to Marc-Andre Fleury's shutout.

With more games going tonight, I'll update everything in the morning. If I can get my hard drive back to normal before the weekend, I'll keep it updated as much as possible.

More playoffs tonight as three more series get underway. Calgary and San Jose square off in Game Two of their opening-round series.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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