Commentary

The East was a bit of a beast

Updated: June 12, 2012, 4:13 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

1. Game 6, Stanley Cup finals, Devils versus Kings: Steve Bernier's reckless crushing of Rob Scuderi into the end boards midway through a scoreless first period might well go down as one of the most costly mistakes in Stanley Cup finals history. Never mind Marty McSorley's illegal stick back in 1993, this was a pure and simple Cup killer. On the ensuing five-minute power play, the Kings buried the Devils with three goals, equaling in less than four minutes their entire power-play production of the first five games. Kudos to Bernier for standing up after the game and answering question after question; still, that moment doomed the Devils' Cup hopes.

2. Game 5, Eastern Conference semifinals, Rangers versus Capitals: Brad Richards' goal with 6.6 seconds left in regulation against the Capitals tied the game at 2-2 and stole what appeared to be a certain victory from the Caps. Marc Staal then scored early in overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 series lead. The Rangers would go on to beat Washington in seven games and advance to the conference finals, but who knows how things play out without Richards' heroics.

3. Game 5, Eastern Conference semifinals, Flyers versus Devils: Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov's clearing attempt struck the shaft of David Clarkson's stick and bounced back into the Flyer net. The curious marker typified the up-and-down nature of Bryzgalov's first playoff experience in Philadelphia, an experience that ended after that fifth game against the Devils in the second round.

4. Game 3, Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Penguins versus Flyers: In a game filled with mayhem, Sidney Crosby tangled with Claude Giroux while at the same time Kris Letang and Kimmo Timonen dropped the gloves and were ejected. This led to Crosby swooping away Jakob Voracek's glove as the Flyer tried to pick it up off the ice, a moment that seemed to typify the collapse of the Penguins. Asked afterward why he did it, Crosby said simply that he didn't like Voracek and, in fact, didn't like any of the Flyers. Fair enough. Philadelphia had the last laugh, defeating the Penguins in six wacky games.

5. Game 7, Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Bruins versus Capitals: With Mike Knuble crashing into Boston netminder Tim Thomas early in overtime, linemate Joel Ward managed to tuck home the rebound to erase the defending Stanley Cup champs from the opening round of the playoffs. Many thought the goal should have been disallowed, but it was pure Dale Hunter hockey, two rugged forwards crashing the net and ending up playing the hero. The Caps under Hunter would ride that grinding hockey to a seventh game against the New York Rangers in the second round. The Game 7 goal looms large, given Thomas's suggestion that he might take next season off.