The Fifth’s Dimension: Stanley Cup Playoff Hockey

There’s a reason why NHL fans believe it has the best postseason of any sport. And if Wednesday’s opening night of playoff action was any indicator, the NHL proved why it’d be hard to argue against.

THE MINT — From a 3-0 deficit, the Philadelphia Flyers rallied in Game 1 to defeat the Penguins in overtime, in Pittsburgh, 4-3. Soon after, Nashville took home a Game 1 victory over the Red Wings, though it came with a bit of controversy as time expired. But the most shocking of events came in the nightcap as the No. 8 seed Kings put together a 4-2 upset bid in Vancouver, taking a 1-0 series lead over the top team in hockey.

Oh what a night it was indeed to open up the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. Lord Stanley is proud, but probably not proud of Shea Weber.

While Nashville was the only home team on Wednesday to keep home ice advantage, the Predators’ win maybe overshadowed by Weber’s actions, which merit suspension to say the least.

As regulation ended in Nashville, Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass with his hand like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin slamming his opponent into a turnbuckle. Take a look at the WWE bar fight that broke out as time expired.

It’s a little funny at first because you’re thinking to yourself, “Did Weber just pull a Stone Cold?” But this is not so comedic because it’s a direct head shot — it’s a legit attempt to injure Zetterberg. A major no-no.

Weber’s action are extremely uncalled for and look for the NHL to come down with a stunner on Weber, who just completely lost control in the final seconds. We’ll see if the timing of it (at the end of the game) somehow saves Weber, but expect Nashville to be a man down and facing a Detroit squad fired up from it. It’s one of those plays that might just be the sequence that turns the entire series around.I fully expect the Red Wings to take this series because of it.

Talk about a bi-polar game for Penguins fans. From the high of highs to the lowest of lows, the Flyers came from behind yet again against the Pens as Danny Briere returned after missing three games (he was knocked out in the Flyers come-from-behind on April 1 in Pittsburgh) and notched his 98th point in 98 career playoff games with two goals in the overtime win.

This stat is striking. That was Philly’s 11th comeback win where they had trailed by a two goals or more. 11 times. Impressive. That’s why I looked and said after the first period that the Flyers were definitely not done.

Briere’s comeback is noteworthy in a game that Pittsburgh should have won. I’m sure he had a little extra motivation in him after being force out of the game on April 1, when Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale got him with a vicious hit to say the least.

But Briere’s motivating play helped stymied the Penguins, who had a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission. He scored the first two goals and from then on it was all Philly. It’ll be interesting to see how the Penguins bounce back. This team is favored to come out of the East, but if they keep it up, the arrogant Pittsburgh fans might be humbled a little sooner then they thought.

How about the Kings? Down 1-0, L.A. squandered a 2-1 lead only to get a late goal from Dustin Petter to take down the defending Western Conference champs and steal home ice. Jonathan Quick made 24 saves and was just a little bit better than Roberto Luongo. Kings out shot 38-26 and was 12-4 on the power play.

Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were just incredible. Carter had the assist to Petter and Richards’ physical play made a major difference in this one.

Richards not only got Alexandre Burrows once with a hit early on, but this check in front of the Vancouver bench in the last 30 seconds of the third period flat-out wrecked Burrows. Oh by the way, here it is and it’s my favorite hit of the year.

And might I add, if there was anyone Richards could have hit, it couldn’t have happened to a better player. What’s even funnier is that Burrows tries to ploy Richards into a penalty soon thereafter as he embellishes the hit given by Richards again. Richards better watch out in Game 2, I’m sure Burrows might want to bite his finger at some point. It’s good to see the Canucks get a taste of their own medicine.

On that note, what a great way to cap opening night of playoff hockey. If this is the prelude, what a 2012 playoff campaign this will be.

Hawks are in Phoenix in Game 1 tonight at 9 p.m., don’t miss it!

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