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(Elsa/2011 Getty Images)
(Elsa/2011 Getty Images)

Seven in the morning

The Stanley Cup playoffs: the punch in the face that says 'spring' Add to ...

With two out and two balls and no strikes against Ichiro Suzuki, manager John Farrell elected to walk the gifted hitter intentionally. Two pitches later Ichiro stole second and ultimately Rodriguez delivered.

But it was the meltdown in the eighth that set the ball rolling.

After Justin Smoak hit a two-run single off Marc Rzepczynski to make it a 7-6 game, manager John Ferrell called on Camp, who has been lights out this season.

Camp needed just one pitch to pull the fat out of the fire as he induced Miguel Olivo to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, Adam Lind making a great scoop at first to complete the play.

That the Jays bullpen would implode to such a degree was a shock as it entered the game rated as the No. 1 unit in the league with a collective ERA of 1.11.

4. Based on this report, Toronto could support two NHL teams missing the playoffs:

Another day, another study confirming that yes, the Greater Toronto Area is the greatest untapped hockey market in the world and is the most logical place to relocate an NHL team. If someone paid for that information, they should be tasered: Attempts to promote hockey in southern American markets have been largely unsuccessful, argues the report from the Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation at the University of Toronto. Instead, the NHL should focus on bolstering the game in Canada where demand is greatest. Canada's six teams account for nearly one-third of league revenue. Most of those loonies end up in the United States, which has 24 teams, through revenue sharing. The report, titled "The New Economics of the NHL," uses potential gate revenue as a measure of economic success. It looks at 10 Canadian cities and ranks each as a potential host for an NHL team, based on size, wealth, geographic location and other factors. There are six Canadian markets where a new NHL team would thrive, the report found, citing Greater Toronto as the best one.

5. Montreal-Boston? What's all the fuss about?

In all seriousness, a lot of ink gets spilled trying to build up drama and rivalries and whip up bad feeling; trying to make something abtract real. And then the NHL delivers the Hab-Bruins as a first-round playoff series. Dave Stubbs writes not so much a set-up piece but an honour roll of historical grievances. And that's just for this season: But the Canadiens vs. Bruins offers something truly compelling. The NHL's longest-running playoff rivalry is surely its greatest, bookended by a three-game Bruins sweep in 1929 and a four-game Bruins romp precisely 80 years later.

The series ahead will feature more plots than there are in Mount Royal's cemeteries - or whichever Boston graveyard Bruins championship dreams have been buried by the Canadiens 24 times out of 32.

Just a few talking points from this season alone:

Canadiens goalie Carey Price allowed four goals on nine shots in 30 minutes of work on Sept. 22 against Boston, the teams' first preseason game. Bell Centre fans booed Price mercilessly. Imagine: their minds seemed to change as the season wore on.

Boston's Zdeno Chara severely concussed and fractured a vertebra in the neck of Montreal's Max Pacioretty on March 8. The day before the teams' next game, the Bruins' Mark Recchi went on Boston radio and questioned the severity of Pacioretty's concussion, saying the Canadiens had tried to goad the NHL into suspending Chara. Recchi later said he merely wanted to deflect attention from his captain - whose jersey would have been large enough to serve as the MONT-REAL SUX dropsheet.

Six regular-season games, four won by Montreal, had a total of 360 penalty minutes, 187 of them in a single match. Habs captain Brian Gionta scored in five of the six games. Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, usually uneven at best against the Canadiens, blanked the Habs for the first time in his career for his 25th NHL shutout.

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