I’m sure this is the case for you as well, but when I think of playoff hockey, I think of teams kicking their competition level up a notch. The hits are harder, the scraps are more emotional, and the goals are more difficult.
See, the series between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning is a prime example of what I think of when I think of playoff hockey. Heated rivalry, and the odd line brawl.
When the Washington Capitals dominated the regular season and cruised their way to the President’s Trophy (with the help of another 50-goal season from Alexander Ovechkin), I think they identified themselves as early favourites for Eastern Conference champions, and even serious Cup contenders. Nobody was surprised when they took game one over the Philadelphia Flyers.
I’m sure some people even thought that it would come easy for the Capitals… But not this easy.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 17, 2016
I’ll set the scene – it’s a couple minutes into the second period and the Capitals are leading 1-0. Philadelphia just dumped a shot on net from the blue line that was turned away by Braden Holtby and collected behind the net by his teammates. Caps defenceman Karl Alzner dumps the puck down the ice from just ahead of the red line in his defensive zone, when this fluke happens:
The puck was tipped by Jason Chimera, who looked like he was getting ready to initiate a line change. The tip was really just to avoid an icing call against the Caps, but it ended up being a well-placed tip that fooled Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who no doubt was pretty embarrassed by his mistake.
I’m not gonna jump on the guy’s back, though. There’s plenty more than enough people already doing that. As a kid who tried hard to be a terrible road hockey goalie as a kid, I’m in no position to judge.
And plus, he’s not the first goalie this has happened to. In fact, given the game situation, I’d say this instance of Ray Bourque scoring from 160 feet away while killing a penalty is an even worse goal, scored against Kay Whitmore of the Hartford Whalers.
Mind you, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting Bourque to hit the net from that distance… But even when your team is on the power play, you always gotta be paying attention – especially with Bourque’s incredibly accurate shot.
It’ll be interesting now to see if the Flyers can bounce back from that goal and their 4-1 Game 2 loss.