Have you ever heard that old expression, don't let the spoiling spoil you? It's a way of saying that it's good to be spoiled and catered to, but don't let it sour you on the experience or make you feel entitled to it. It's a testament to the fact that we should appreciate good things when they happen to us, even if we don't expect them to.
There's probably no better way to put it than that when it comes to the first round of the NHL playoffs. It looked like the writing was on the wall before the first games took place, but now, the spoilers keep piling up. The underdogs have put in rock solid performances, with Ottawa leading Pittsburgh, Philadelphia leading New Jersey, Montreal leading the top-ranked Washington Caps, the Colorado Avs leading the mighty San Jose Sharks and the once-lonely desert dwelling Phoenix Coyotes leading the old Warhorse Detroit Red Wings.
It just goes to show you that nothing is out of the question when it comes to the world of sports. People have off days, injuries happen, overconfidence and complacency can kick in, people get tired or their game gets lazy and uninspired and sometimes coaches go a little mad. Those are all possible factors that can change a seemingly dominant playmaking monster into just another opponent.
There's a rumour going around in Washington that Alexander Ovechkin was playing injured last night and that his personal trainer from Russia was in town, something that only ever happens when the Great 8 is down and out. There's no telling if that's the truth or an excuse, but most people woudl believe it. How else can you explain his lack of speed and power on opening night? Spacek deserves a ton of credit for containing the Russian bear anytime he got near the puck, but even so, there have been games in the past when you could have put an entire team around Ovie and he would make them all look like pylons.
And then that begs another question: if Ovie's taking all the defense with him, why were the Caps not capitalizing on that? By knowing where the defense is (all around number 8), you can easily determine where the defense isn't (all around the other players). By those standards, Semin, Fleishman, Laich and Backstrom should all have had more time and space to work in. But they didn't.
Halak had a great game and looks like he did back in the Olympics when he was holding down the fort for Slovakia. Theodore also had a good game, all things considered, despite Plekanec besting him on that last shot in overtime. It's a shame when the trash talker makes the winning goal. It kind of makes me hope that Theodore will use this to help him shut him down when it really counts. No matter who you cheer for, it's always nice to see trash talkers silenced.
But it's the playoffs and anything (seemingly) goes.
A couple of predictions did come true: Miller was true to form and helped his team beat the Boston Bruins, as many expected he would and Vancouver did beat out the underdog LA Kings. That's still far short of what most people thought were locks.
Now another one to watch: Chicago vs. Nashville tonight. Let's see if Nashville has what it takes to polish off a favourite from the top-ranked list.
That may be more spoiling than we should have. But it's so good when it happens.