After a hiatus during Round 2, we are finally back for the Conference Finals to bring you up to speed on what's happening with the ever-dwindling list of teams still playing hockey. After 2 more weeks and a few Game 7 situations, that list is down to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the St. Louis Blues, and the San Jose Sharks. Seriously, it's like the Hockey Gods are emptying their bowels on the whole of Red Wings fandom...
NIGHT'S ROUND'S RECAP
That did NOT go according to plan. The Sharks of the much maligned Pacific Division got dragged into Game 7 vs the Nashville Predators, after really looking like the dominant team for much of that series. Emerging victorious, and in stellar fashion by defeating the Predators 5-0, they wil face the Blues squad that was finally able to pick apart the holes in the Dallas Stars defense. Ok, maybe not so much holes in the defense as holes in the net. Big gaping holes. Mostly between the pads of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. Seriously, they were bad... but that's no different from the regular season. Despite going 7 games, this was gift-wrapped with a bow for the Blues in the end with a 6-1 win.
In the Eastern Division, the New York Islanders got a taste of what we had in Round 1 as they were similarly dispatched in 5 games by the Lightning. Even without Steven Stamkos, this team is running rough-shod over the opposition. At this point, it looks like the Penguins could be the only team capable of stopping them. Eliminating the President's Trophy winning Washington Capitals in 6 games, nobody seems to have an answer for Pittsburgh's depth or for rookie goaltender Matt Murray. But it's also possible that the Caps-Collapse was imminent, as all that Washington team seems to know how to do is disappoint. You do you, Washington.
Your Only Option, So Deal With It: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 1), 8:00PM EDT - NBCSN
The Conference Finals open with the barf-fest of Pittsburgh hosting the Lightning. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that neither of these teams are playing good hockey. They most certainly are, and definitely deserve to be in the mix for the Stanley Cup after their Round 1 and 2 performances. But, as Wings fans, is there anything more painful than watching the Stamkos-less Bolts match up against hockey's most hated team since the summer of 2005? Probably not...
Why You Care Enough To Watch: You're going to hate-watch this series and you know it. Every time members of Tampa's "Kid Line" step out onto the ice, a not-so-small part of you is going to hope someone Kronwall's one of them. Every time Sidney Crosby touches the puck, you'll be jamming needles into your #87 voodoo doll just hoping he'll display all the hockey prowess of a wet noodle. Can Pittsburgh find a defensive answer for Tampa's young guns? Will the Lightning be able to endure the offensive overload of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel? WHO CARES! Just turn the tv on, grab a beer and some popcorn, and hope for Benny-Hill-On-Ice levels of ineptitude and embarrassment. I know that's a long-shot given how both squads have played so far, but what do we as Wings fans have left this season if not for our hatred and desire for other fan-bases to get knocked down a peg or two?