Scouting the eight playoff series 

April, 18, 2011

We haven't played even a week of playoff games, and the defending champs already find themselves on the brink of elimination. That didn't take long!

We've also seen two Southern California suspensions.

L.A.'s Jarret Stoll received a one-game ban for using his forearm to drive the head of San Jose defenseman Ian White into the boards from behind. A day later, Anaheim's Bobby Ryan received a two-game suspension for stomping on the foot of Nashville D Jonathon Blum.

I thought Stoll should get a more significant punishment. In fact, I watched the Stoll hit live with a team executive, and we both put up the same number of fingers -- three -- to indicate our feeling on the length of a possible suspension. Sadly, we were wrong.

The NHL says it wants to take these types of plays out of the game. Let me tell you, one-game suspensions won't get that job done.

I was surprised to see that Canucks winger Raffi Torres wasn't suspended despite ignoring the puck when delivering a high blow to the head of Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook. It's especially surprising considering that Torres is repeat offender.

For now, I need to catch up on the eight opening-round series. Here are my thoughts on each. I'll call it the Monday eight.

Vancouver Canucks lead Chicago Blackhawks, 3-0

Well, I'd say things aren't looking too promising for the defending champs. At this point, in an 0-3 hole, they might be pretty happy just to avoid a sweep.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.