“Good morning, happy Friday to you guys.”
Those were the first words spoken by NBC analyst and nine-time NHL All-Star Jeremy Roenick on The Morning Show. Those words were very nice, and they were very cordial. But there’s just one problem:
“It’s Friday, right?” Roenick asked, confused.
Nope, it’s definitely Thursday.
“That’s what happens when playoffs start,” Roenick said, laughing. “You totally lose track of everything.”
Indeed, the NHL playoffs opened on Wednesday with three stellar games. The Penguins beat the Blue Jackets, 4-3; the Ducks beat the Stars, 4-3; and the Canadiens beat the Lightning, 5-4, in overtime.
Thus, for all of the supposed controversy surrounding the NHL’s new playoff seeding, it looks like we’re still going to get great hockey.
“I don’t think the reseeding mattered that much at all,” Roenick said. “If you went back and redid all the points for everyone that was in the playoffs, you’d just have a couple different moves. The reseeding, I think, as you saw last night kind of changes the way the game is played. Usually in previous years, you’re playing a team that you really didn’t play too often. The first couples games – or the first game, at least – teams are feeling each other out and making sure that they didn’t make any mistakes, whereas last night, these teams have payed each other a lot because they’re right in the same division. That comfort level allowed them to really open up. You saw very high-scoring games because of it. Not very often do you see seven- and eight-goal games in playoffs. Last night started with a bang.”
Roenick believes the postseason will be full of long, compelling series.
“These coaches are so good these days; they set up their game plans so acutely,” he said. “Last night, every game was a one-goal game, and one (went to) overtime. You’re going to see a lot of overtime games again this year in the playoffs. The hockey is just so much better in the playoffs.”
The game between Montreal and Tampa Bay was proof of that.
“It was up and down, it was action-packed, it was goal after goal,” Roenick said. “You’re going to see that pretty much all throughout the playoffs with these guys. It’s just amazing how they raise their level of play.”
Many feel that Boston and Chicago are the favorites to win the East and West, respectively, but the Blackhawks have endured a lot of injuries this year – including recent injuries to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Is there a chance the Blackhawks won’t be back in the Stanley Cup Final this year?
“Oh, there’s a huge chance,” Roenick said. “There’s a big chance because they’re playing one of the tougher teams in the National Hockey League (in the first round), and that’s the St. Louis Blues.”
The Blues (52-23-7) were better than the Blackhawks (46-21-15) this year but faltered down the stretch, losing six straight games to close the regular season. Then again, when these two teams meet – especially in the playoffs – you might as well throw records and trends out the window.
“It’s one of the bigger rivalries in the National Hockey League,” Roenick said. “These teams do not like each other. They are brutally, brutally physical. They wear each other out. The Blues have not been playing well as of late, but it’s a new season with the playoffs, and I’m sure they’ll be ready.
“But the (Blackhawks) have a tough first-round series. I would be very surprised if Chicago got back to the Finals.”