In what may have been an unprecedented happening, the matchups for the Stanley Cup, Calder Cup and Memorial Cup were all finalized on the same night after Friday's ice sheet results. And not just in ho-hum fashion. The NHL, AHL and CHL games Friday night were all hanging in the balance until well into the third period, or beyond in the case of the Eastern Conference final. If only the Texas Tornados could have waited a little longer to annex the North American Hockey League to make it a perfect hockey night. (We jest)
1. The New Jersey Devils for the second straight Eastern final game squandered a torrid first period start, finding themselves on even terms with the New York Rangers. But just like in Game 5, the Devils ultimately prevailed, and this time they earned the fifth Stanley Cup final berth in franchise history. The Devils will play the Los Angeles Kings in a highly unlikely Stanley Cup matchup beginning on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).
2. Mess-i-who? Martin Brodeur and the Devils didn't just reach the fourth and final round, they exorcised some Ranger-inflicted playoff demons 18 years to the day a certain Moosey captain helped deny them what could have been a first crack at the Cup. But it wasn't just the future Hall of Famer Brodeur who saw the Devils through, the team got contributions from young and prime players.
3. The Shawinigan Cataractes either don't play at all or they play every night. On Sunday, they'll play for it all. The Memorial Cup hosts broke a third period tie with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rivals and defending tournament champs the Saint John Sea Dogs. The Cataractes didn't play a game for a full month between the 'Q' playoffs and the Memorial Cup, and they were forced to play on three consecutive nights this week.
4. Who could have expected Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and Jake Gardiner to lead Toronto to the championship final so quickly? OK, it's the Marlies not the Leafs, but when your NHL franchise has the longest playoff drought of all, you takes what you can gets. The Marlies downed Oklahoma City in five games to set up an AHL Calder Cup final with the Norfolk Admirals, who'd already advanced. The series between the Marlies and the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate doesn't get underway until June 1. So be prepared for an incessant onslaught of Calder Cup hype.
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