Hart Needed From Miller, Ovie, Sedin

With both Boston and LA coming off huge Game 2 victories on the road, and the Habs having outplayed the league leading Caps for most of their series, all three buildings should be absolutely rocking with anticipation of their team taking a 2-1 series lead.

While the Hart Trophy nominees won’t be announced until next week, my three candidates for the award need to pick up their game tonight if they want their teams to regain home ice advantage.

Miller was lights out in a 2-1 Game 1 win, with 24 saves in the 2nd period alone, but allowed four goals on 18 shots in the lasat 40 minutes of Game 2. While I can’t fault Miller for all of the goals in that game, he is the lifeblood of the Sabres and has been for the past two seasons. Last year, the Sabres were in a playoff spot before Miller went down with an injury and were forced to give the reigns to Patrick Lalime. This year saw disappointing seasons from Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville; Buffalo still won the division.

Now heading back to Boston, they have been outscored 6-5 in the series by the lowest scoring team in the league, and won’t have Thomas Vanek in the lineup. Vanek by the way, is the only Sabre who has two points in the postseason, and now Claude Julien will be able to have Zdeno Chara matchup against anyone that he pleases. If the Sabres have ever needed a huge performance by Millers, it’s tonight.
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With his four point performance in Game 2, AO has seemingly silenced the critics of his terrible showing in Game 1. But the truth is, Ovechkin actually needs to make an adjustment to his patented style tonight. Just like in Boston, Montreal will definitely be using last change to get Jaroslav Spacek on the ice against Ovechkin, so it has to be up to AO to make the changes. Not that I should ever be giving him advice, but in this case all I can say to him is GO WIDE!!!

Every time that guy comes down the ice, he cuts in, pulls back and shoots through the defenseman’s skates. Yes that move has worked many, many times, but the problem when you start to form a pattern in your play is that people will catch onto it. Considering Ovie is the flashiest and most replayed player in the League, it shouldn’t have taken teams this long. Now when he comes down the ice, cuts in, pulls back……he is greeted with Spacek’s stick which has easily tipped the puck wide of the net.

This has completely rendered Ovechkin’s gamebreaking ability as useless for the first two games of the series. So if Ovechkin really is the best player in the game, get off the vodka he was drinking in the Olympics and adjust your style! He is 6’2″, 230 lbs for crying out loud, and it’s not like Spacek is the fleetest of foot. Use your speed and size and take him wide. Or is would it be that difficult to fake wide and then curl to the corner, maybe wait for your teammates to enter the zone and setup an offensive attack.

I know…I’m picking apart the best scorer in the League today and telling him to change his style….but I think it is needed tonight. It will definitely help him in the long run.
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Tonight in LA, the Canucks and Kings continue what might be the best series of them all. While the Sedin’s worked their magic in Game 1, they were held off the scoresheet on Saturday. Drew Dougthy’s minutes went from 23:32 in Game 1, to 32:56 in Game 2, and Saturday’s game was actually longer. If you don’t think there is a correlation between the two, you’re nuts. Expect that matchup to continue tonight where home ice advantage will once again make a huge impact. Doughty will likely be on the ice for every shift with the Sedins.

He hasn’t been bad by a long shot, but he wasn’t bad last year either when he notched 10 points in 10 games in a run to the second round. The difference this year is that they have one of the best supporting casts in the League. So far, those guys have held up their end of the bargain, the Sedins have not.

If Henrik (and Daniel) fail to lead the Canucks deep into the playoffs once again, their amazing season will likely be overshadowed by another postseason failure.

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