By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter-
The National Hockey League (NHL) will have to really go to beat the first round with 5 Game 7’s. Hockey has finally taken center stage in the sports world battling baseball, basketball, football, and golf. The Goal Brothers also made a statement in game seven.
The Goal Brothers made a point in the first round. Florida’s Anthony Duclair started the brother parade with two assists against the Washington Capitals. Tampa Bay’s center Pierre Edouard Bellemare made three crazy perfect passes and one goal in game seven and a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. New York Rangers defensemen K’Andre Miller tied game seven with an outstanding goal and caused a holding penalty in overtime. Forward Ryan Reaves bounced Pittsburgh Penguins off the boards all night long.
This year there will be three teams south of the Mason Dixon line, playing in the quarter-finals. The Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are all expansion teams.
THE BATTLE OF FLORIDA: PANTHERS VS. LIGHTNING-
This is the matchup of the second round, must-see television. The old men Lightning vs. the new guard Panthers.
Tampa Bay’s Goal Brother Pierre Edouard Bellemare made sure with solid defense there would be a Florida State quarter Finals in the East as the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 3 and now face the cross-state rival Florida Panthers.
The Battle of Florida will commence with the eastern leading Florida Panthers vs. defending two-time champion Tampa Bay Lighting. This is the speed of Tampa Bay vs. the defense of the Florida Panthers the contrast of different styles. Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy loomed large in net vs. Toronto Maple Leafs with 30 saves in game seven. Guess what, Tampa Bay has not even used backup goaltender Brian Elliott in net and Elliott is rested and waiting. Forward Pat Maroon has to stay out of the (sin bin)-penalty box for the Bolts to beat Florida.
One significant Bolt injury going into the Florida series is center Brayden Point who has quad injury and will be questionable in the first game of second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be chasing the history of the 1980 four-time champion New York Islanders.
Florida will try to dethrone the current back-to-back champs with their stingy defense starting with their number one goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Iron Man winger Jonathan Huberdeau will continue to play every game. Carter Verhaeghe went big against Washington to score the winning goal. Claude Giroux made the trade from the Philadelphia Flyers worthwhile mid-year putting the veteran punch and leadership in the Panther offense.
CAROLINA HURRICANES VS. NEW YORK RANGERS
The best backchecking team in the league, the Carolina Hurricanes took out the veteran Boston Bruins four games to three in a very interesting series. The Boston Perfection Line-David Pasternak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron could not crack the Carolina defense and goalie Antti Raanta. The home team won every game in this first-round series.
The torch is being passed in Carolina like father, the son, Forward Max Domi got two goals and assist in game seven against Boston just like his dad Ty Domi, forward, for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, and Winnipeg Jets. If the Rangers want to win, they have to check the younger Domi at the Blue Line. Goalie Antti Raanta in net proved to be solid against the Boston Bruins, can he do it again against the New York Rangers?
The Canes have the advantage of a week’s rest before this second-round series. They also have the advantage because they scouted the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers in their Sunday Game Seven. The Rangers had to get on a plane to Raleigh right after their victory, advantage Carolina.
The Canes power comes from Centers Sabastian Aho and Jordan Staal with Wingers Max Domi, Jesper Fast, and Ninno Niederriter. As Carolina stated many times this year using the Top Gun movie line “there is a need for speed,” on the Canes ice
The New York Rangers make that three-game come back and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins four games to three in an overtime win in the first round. The Rangers did it with one of the best goaltenders in the league Igor Shesterkin. They did it after Igor was pulled in game one and game two.
Pittsburgh Fans in Western Pennsylvania will be chanting the song IGOR all summer long and wanting a rematch.
The Penguins tried to throw a curve ball to New York by putting number one goalie Tristan Jarry in net in game seven, it did not work. The Pittsburgh Achilles heel is their bad habit of committing penalties. It happened again with the Brock McGinn holding call against K’Andre Miller as Miller drove toward the Pittsburgh net. It cost the Penguins in overtime and the first round series. The New York Rangers took advantage and moved on.
The Goal Brother Ranger defensemen K’Andre Miller ties the game at 2 each in the 2nd period and drew a holding penalty in overtime. Artemi Panarin gets the winning goal to end the series. The star was forward Mika Zibanejad scoring 3 goals with 3 assists in two games and winning 20 faceoffs controlling the puck.
It will be number 1 vs. number 2 in the Metropolitan Division in this series. This is going to be very interesting if the Rangers can slow down the Carolina freight train. Number one goalie Frederik Andersen might start this series vs. New York. The Canes owned the Rangers this year with 3-1-0 record. The Rangers might throw a curve ball to Carolina by starting number two goaltender Alexander Georgiev in net.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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