Last night, the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs came to an end with the final two games wrapping up early this morning.
In what could be considered the best example of “traditional” playoff hockey, the New Jersey Devils bested the Florida Panthers in Game 7. Not content with take the series the entire 7 games, the Panthers had to drag out the excitement for an extra period plus. After letting the Devils get up 2-0, the Panthers pushed to tie the game up in the 3rd and managed to hold the Devils off until the 2nd over time.
This series was originally written off as an easy round for the Devils with the Panthers finishing their season 3rd in the Conference but with a record of 38-26-18 (for comparison, the Devils finished 6th with a 48-28-6 record), however it ended in being the most grinding game on in the round. While goaltending was often a problem (soreness, pulled from the game), you didn’t see the games run up crazy goal numbers. The games were never soft, but you didn’t see excessive violence. Both teams knew that the most important aspect of the game is winning, not killing each other out on the ice.
Another series that came to a close earlier in the night, New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators, also went to Game 7, but ended in 3 periods not double OT. Less gentlemanly play happened in this series (suspension, concussions) but the overall series was one that hard hitting and came down to the goaltending. Both goalies faced numerous shots on goal and really helped propel this to a Game 7.