"That's life. That's what all the people say. You're riding high in April, shot down in May." The lyrics to that old Frank Sinatra standard certainly apply to this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. For those who haven't been following, it's been nothing short of riveting. While the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings have been playing giant-killer out West by beating the number one and two teams en route to the conference finals (you're next, Phoenix), the Eastern Conference storylines have been the stuff of movies. Take last night's Rangers/Caps game, for instance.
With just seconds remaining last night, the Caps were on their way to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and a prospective trip back the nation's capital with a 3-2 series lead, when all hell broke loose. New York had already pulled goalie Henrik Lunqvist for an extra attacker when Washington's first round, Game 7 hero Joel Ward took a four-minute high-sticking penalty with just 21 seconds remaining. No big deal, right? Four minutes doesn't add up to much if you can just kill off the final 20 seconds of the game without incident. But... not so fast.
When Brad Richards beat stellar Caps netminder Braden Holtby with seven seconds left, not only did all of Washington look like they needed a hug, they also still needed to kill off almost another two full minutes of Ward's penalty in overtime. They didn't. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (who looks like Hoover from Animal House) scored the game-winner a minute and a half into OT sending the Garden into bedlam and the Caps into a near catatonic state. The series shifts back to Washington on Wednesday and it's anybody's guess whether the Capitals will be able to rebound from last night's crushing loss. The way these playoffs have gone thus far, however, it would not be wise to count them out.
If you haven't been following the playoffs, or aren't particularly a big fan of the sport, now might be a good time to take a look. Along with the aforementioned teams and series, the New Jersey Devils head to Philly tonight, as ageless Martin Brodeur and his teammates attempt to eliminate the Flyers. Another great reason to tune in is the sensational work of NBC's Mike Emrick, arguably the best play-by-play man in all of sports. If that's not enough to pique your interest, there's always the Rangers and Caps. Both teams went seven games in round one,and if Washington wins tomorrow night they're all headed back for one more Saturday in "the city that doesn't sleep." But who can sleep with all this great hockey happening anyway?