2011 NHL Playoffs: Road Wins Continue in Second Round

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2011 NHL Playoffs: Road Wins Continue in Second Round
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Fans at the games have had less to cheer about with home teams 26-31 so far in these playoffs

Road teams went 26-23 in the first round, and that trend is continuing into the conference semi-finals: Thus far, road teams have swept both games in both series in the Eastern Conference and gone 5-3 overall.

It used to be that taking two on the road signed the opponent's death knell, but Montreal was the only team to do that in the first round and they are sitting at home. Thus, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins had best not get too comfortable with their 2-0 leads heading home.

In fact, we should remember that even with all the road wins in the first round, one of the things we learned was that the higher seeds still advanced. The winners of this round will be more about who is the better teams on the ice than who gets the jump on the other.

The Washington Capitals are losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning because they are experiencing last year's defensive breakdowns. Two goals in under three minutes of the second period turned a lead into a deficit in Game One, which was sewn up when Alex Ovechkin was out-hustled for a loose puck with his net empty.

In Game Two, the Caps were on the power play and had all five players in the front half of the attacking zone, leaving Sean Bergenheim to a breakaway on a long rebound. While they stopped the score, they took a penalty that gave the Lightning their first goal, then gave up the overtime goal on a bad line change.

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The Boston Bruins are up 2-0 because they have the likely Vezina Trophy winner in net and the Flyers have made goalie changes in four of their last five games. While goalies sometimes come out of nowhere to lead their teams, no team does well in the playoffs if they cannot rely on the most important position in sports.

The Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators are also relying on their own Vezina finalists, having scored a total of two goals each in two games. Goaltending always trumps home ice (or road ice in 2011), so the team that wins this series is the one who will figure out how to gets pucks in the net.

Thus, it appears that by holding serve at home, only the San Jose Sharks are in the driver's seat in their series. By taking two games and thoroughly out-playing the Wings thus far, it would be shocking to see them lose four of the next five.

This series is the only one to this point in the playoffs that matches two Cup-contending teams. Thus, for one to have this kind of edge indicates they are the best pick to win Lord Stanley's Cup.

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