As the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs came to an end on Wednesday night leading into Thursday morning, many memorable moments stood out to us all. I took the time to decide on my top five moments of the NHL Playoffs first round.
5. The Ginette Reno Experience
Her singing career started at the age of 13 and for decades she became a household name in the province of Quebec. She was a hit in the Montreal-made movie Mambo Italiano and she also appeared in television. But when Ginette Reno stepped out onto the Bell Centre ice to sing the Canadian National Anthem, none of that mattered. It was all about that particular moment. Her beautiful voice echoed through the arena and it sent waves of goosebumps. With that, the Canadiens drew inspiration and won their two home games to sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning. Rene Bourque, who scored eleven seconds into game three, personally requested to bring back Ginette. When she did, she once again lit up the Montreal crowd and as she stepped off the ice she gave her hand to a smiling Daniel Briere. He then went on to open up the scoring by putting the Habs ahead early in the first period.
4. Mikael Granlund’s Sensational Overtime Goal
It doesn’t happen every day when a player takes matters into his own hands and does all the work himself to score in overtime. What fans have grown accustomed to is a gritty, crash-and-bang play or a tip-in point shot. In game three, Mikael Granlund tore the building down in Minnesota with a dazzling goal that will go down as THE goal in the first round, maybe in the entire 2014 Playoffs. As Granlund turned around the net, he would be pinned for a brief second before spinning the other way and making a bee-line for the net. In his journey towards the slot, Granlund was muscled down but kept his eyes on the prize and the puck on his stick and in desperation, Granlund fired a shot while going down and put it past Semyon Varlamov. The Xcel Energy Center went absolutely bonkers after the goal and brought new life to the team after they lost their first two games of the series. The Wild would go on to win in 7.
3. The City of Columbus
For some reason when you think of the loudest arenas in the NHL, Columbus doesn’t seem to come up. This post-season, that all changed. Every game was a battle for the Blue Jackets and they were the ultimate underdogs in a series against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yet no matter how wide the lead was in favor of the Penguins, Columbus managed to chip away at the lead and come back. The fifth line — the Columbus crowd — was there every step of the way and the Nationwide Arena became one of the loudest arenas this year. Their pre-game parties were a riot and the general feel was outstanding. One thing that stands out the most was the realization of their dedication. With half a period left in regulation and down 4-0 in game six, nobody left. Nobody gave up on the team and instead stuck around and watched in anticipation. At 4-1, they cheered. At 4-2, they erupted. At 4-3, there was now belief that it was happening again and the arena was buzzing and rocking. Unfortunately for them, the team fell short but in a moment of true passion, the Columbus crowd frantically cheered their team in defeat. They lost the battle of the playoffs but their never die mentality won the crowd and the nation over.
Our video is of the Columbus Crowd on Mike Foligno’s game winning goal in game 4, when they went absolutely wild for the first home playoff win in franchise history.
2. St. Louis Déjà-Vu?
I’m sure everyone knows by now what the term “Déjà-Vu” means. It’s that feeling you get when you’ve been somewhere before or you’re going through a course of actions or a set of dialogue that has happened in the past already. For the St. Louis Blues, it was an all too painful past to have to re-live and yet, they did exactly that. Just one year ago, in the 2013 Playoffs, the Blues took a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings. They did the same against the Chicago Blackhawks this year. Vague? Okay, maybe but how about Steen scoring back-to-back game winning goals in game one? Oh yeah, Jackman also scored the game winning goal in game two, just like he did last year. But wait, there’s more! Last year in game three, the Blues out-shot the Kings by 9 and got shut out. This year? Out shot by 9 and shut out by the Blackhawks. Okay, getting weirder now, the Blues blew a 3-2 lead in game four last year and eventually lost 4-3. Can you believe they blew a 3-2 lead in game four this year and eventually lost 4-3? Now here’s the kicker, and this one gets a little too specific. Last year in game five, Alex Pietrangelo scores the game-tying goal, his first of the playoffs, assisted by Schwartz. The Blues eventually go on to lose in overtime, 3-2. This year? The. Same. Scenario. This can’t just be some coincidence. This is stars and planets aligning, Hockey Gods getting a good laugh, some higher power out there just trying to mess with hockey fans. Game six went a little differently but those first five games is something straight out of the Twilight Zone.
1. The Kings Overcome The Odds
Overcoming a 0-3 series deficit is likely one of the most amazing feats to pull in any sport. In the NHL, it has only happened once in the history of this league. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first to do it, winning four straight against the Detroit Red Wings to take the series in seven. 33 years later, the New York Islanders become the second team to go the distance, putting away the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 Quarterfinals. The most recent occurrence and the last time it happened was during the 2010 Eastern Conference Final when the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 0-3 deficit against the Boston Bruins. Four years later and we now have the shortest amount of time between two historical comebacks. After going up in the series 3-0, the San Jose Sharks were finally putting to rest the choker label. Joe Thornton was leading his team, Patrick Marleau was doing well, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, EVERYONE was clicking! This was the year. Then their grip started to slip. They lost game four… then game five… then game six. Heading back to San Jose for a decisive game seven, all momentum was on the side of the Los Angeles Kings and when Anze Kopitar put the Kings up by a score of 2-1 late in the second period, they never looked back. Jonathan Quick had become the goaltender we all knew he was and the team in front of him begun to play with confidence once again.
So what’s your top five? Agree with any of the five mentioned above or is one in there that you disagree with and have one of your own to replace it with. Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter using the hashtag #LWOS.
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