You have to love Throwdown Thursday. We get to channel our imagination and play make-believe. Today I found myself clicking my ruby shoes together while chanting, “There’s no place like the playoffs. There’s no place like the playoffs.”
Seriously, if the Hurricanes were still playing hockey, how would they hold up against the Lightning or Bruins in the Conference Finals? I squint my eyes with the utmost determination and exercise my inner child-like imagination to pull off a win against both teams, however, my adult rationale interferes and I see nothing but a sweep.
Carolina’s end of season inconsistency and injuries would make victory near impossible. Alas, Throwdown Thursday is supposed to be fictional fun, so let’s pull out our magic wand and wave it over captain Staal’s groin and other various player injuries.
In our pretend scenario the Canes are playing healthy with well-functioning units. During the regular season they went 2-for-6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not to mention the April 9th crushing 6-2 loss at home which may have cost the team a spot in the playoffs. The Eric(k)’s were truly a matching pair with 4 goals and 5 assists with playing the Florida team. Staal also had the game winning goal in both wins. However, Martin St. Louis crushed the Canes with 12 points in 6 contests. He offered 9 helpers to the likes of Gagne, Lecavalier, Stamkos, and Moore.
The five seed Bolts managed to pull a 5-4 win over the Bruins Wednesday night to force a game 7. Unless my magic wand has Harry Potter-like capabilities, I think it is safe to say the Hurricanes would fall to Tampa Bay if they were the Boston.
Speaking of Boston, would our boys fair better against the Northeast team? Again, adult reasoning (aka 0-7 January shutout) is causing conflict with my ability to pretend they would come out of the conference final series winners. Canes faced Boston four times during the regular season and only won one game.
Corvo, Ruutu, and Skinner each had a goal and two helpers. Cam Ward stopped 95 pucks for a .922 SV% in four games. Those statistics speak highly of Boston’s offensive and Ward’s wall power between the pipes.
No surprise Chara led the charge against the Canes with 3 goals and 3 assists. He continues to lead the league with a +/- of 11.
However, Boston struggles with earning extra-man goals as the Hurricanes did last season. I’m afraid this week’s Throwdown Thursday won’t have a happy ending. I may pick Boston to face over the Bolts, but I believe the Raleigh team would still fall short in the end.
It is no mistake Tampa and Boston have made it to the finals. Friday’s game seven should be a nail biter. Vancouver awaits the winner of that series for Stanley Cup ownership. As I pack my ruby slippers and glitter wand away until next Thursday, all I can do is hope I won’t have to do playoff make-believe next season.