Ahhhh, playoffs. There just isn't anything like it is there? When it comes to the second season, the real season - I don't care if it's ping pong or paper-rock-scissors, I just love watching the competition. With it comes specifically to hockey and just the nature of the sport it is just so fun to watch when the stakes are high and it's do-or-die. If you have ever been lucky enough as a hockey fan or follower to watch your team go on a long run deep into the playoffs I am sure the memories from it are pretty fond ones that you still have today. I have been lucky enough in my career to call some memorable Bulldog runs, and earlier in my career I got to call games into late April five years in a row, and into May and two separate Royal Bank Cups. Fun, fun stuff.
Playoffs are all about....well, everything. The team that brings the best intangibles, fundamentals, will, skill, mental strength or lack thereof along with coaching, goaltending, special teams, injuries, leadership, team unity, fan support and discipline or lack thereof can go all the way.
Playoffs are also all about staying on an even keel and managing the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. It was either Jim Hiller or Nolan Graham that I remember saying that as their number one answer to me as to what is needed for the post season. One minute you are sky high winning a big OT game or winning a series. The next second you are losing a big game, dropping a triple OT heartbreaker, etc. The next day no matter what you have to come back out and be ready to win a hockey game.
It's the fourth playoff meeting between the two franchises since the Bulldogs inaugural 2002-2003 season, when the teams first met each other in a first round series that the Clippers won in six games. In 2004-2005 they would meet again, this time in the second round with the Clippers winning in a four game sweep. The third meeting was in the second round of the 2009-2010 season, this one was a Bulldog win in six games. The most recent meeting was of course the Bulldogs 2012-2013 Island Championship season when they reverse swept the Clippers in the deciding game of what was a best of five first round series.
The Dogs were last in action Saturday in Powell River where they topped the Kings 3-1, snapping a five game losing streak. The Clippers were also in action on Saturday night, as they lost their second in row, 5-4 in double OT to the Grizzlies in Victoria. These teams last met on February 6th at the Dog Pound, a 5-2 Bulldog win.
The Clippers won 7 of 9 games in the season series with a 7-2-0-0 record while the Bulldogs went 2-6-0-1. The series was close despite the end results, with the Clippers outscoring the Bulldogs 28-24. The Dogs went 12 for 45 on the power play and scored once into an empty net while the Clippers went 8 for 44 with one empty netter and one shorthanded marker.
The Bulldogs are without question the underdogs and the Clippers are the favorites. You don't win the division and go 37-16-0-5 without deserving it. However, all of that means nothing now, as the slate has been wiped clean. Everyone is 0-0-0-0. Everyone has zero goals and zero assists, a save percentage and a goals against average of 0.00. Players that had a season that they aren't necessarily happy about - here's a mulligan, a chance to show what you are made of at the most important time of the year. Players that had a great year and are happy with what they have accomplished - sorry, it's all back to the start again, and if you can't do it in the playoffs then it simply doesn't matter and you haven't accomplished anything!
The Bulldogs have some good playoff experience to draw on, including last year in the underdog role. The Bulldogs were the fourth seed last year and got into the playoffs at the last moment, and took the #1 seed Grizzlies all the way to a Game 7, and into double OT. It's a pretty tough memory how that ended for that group - up 3-1 in the series at one point, up 3-1 in Game 7 in the third. Having said that, no one gave that group a chance to even make the Playoffs, better yet make it to a next-goal wins situation in a Game 7 to advance to the Island Championship.
Just believe, and incredible things can happen.
Pacific Chevrolet Bulldogs Hockey on 93.3 The Peak FM starting with the pregame show at 6:45 with the puck drop to follow at 7:00 with myself, Bruce MacDonald and Dan Tisserand.
If you aren't in radio listening range of 93.3 The Peak FM you can listen/watch the game by:
Listening Live on your computer: www.933thepeak.com
Listening Live on your SmartPhone : www.tunein.com/mobile/
Watching Live on your computer/SmartPhone www.fasthockey.com
Bulldog Harry Zolnierczyk. After two years with the Bulldogs (2005-2007) Harry went on to Brown University where he played four seasons, including finishing his career as Captain - he followed up former Bulldog Devin Timberlake who was also Captain of the Bears.
Soundtigers leading scorers.