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Handshake Line: Gone Before I Could Blink

With the first round out of the way, it's time to take a moment to recognize some of the excellent work the Ducks first round opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, put together even though they lost the series in four games.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

First off, I want to once again say thank you to the Winnipeg Jets fans for being a class act in Anaheim. I've said on several occasions before they're some of the most wonderful people to watch hockey with, and they were no exception yet again through the first two home games in the series. But just a word of advice, you may want to re-evaluate your definition of "invasion" because having maybe 100ish visiting fans in a 17,000 seat building hardly constitutes a "takeover."

Anyway, here's a few things I would like to say to the Winnipeg Jets.

-Kudos to your relentless forechecking pressure. Somehow, you must have watched a ton of video somewhere and realized that under pressure, Anaheim can really struggle to get a three-inch puck over an 85-foot long blue line. And that fact alone nearly cost Anaheim both games in Winnipeg. In fact, you have the right to argue that it really should have. There's no doubt that the combination of cringe-worthy physicality and ruthless puck hounding makes for a great system in terms of turning pucks over. Keep at it and you'll be back next year. Maybe then you'll finally get that first playoff win as a franchise.

-Kudos to Jacob Trouba for really demonstrating just how unbelievably dynamic and talented he is as a defenseman. I've never really doubted that Hampus Lindholm was the right draft choice for Anaheim, and I'm still not doubting it, but I am starting to see what could have been when Anaheim had that sixth-overall choice. Trouba was downright electric in the series, creating numerous chances and playing defense that was.... almost perfect.

-Kudos to big Tyler Myers, who on more than one occasion, strongly made me think that just maybe that steep asking price Buffalo was throwing out there might have been worth it for a big guy with good wheels, good hands, and excellent defensive awareness with the puck.

-Kudos to Dustin Byfuglien, who did an excellent role playing the villain for Anaheim in this series. It's easy for us to lose track of how much a lot of our players are hated, particularly those named Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry, but Dustin Byfuglien did an excellent job being the pest on the other side. Unfortunately his offense disappeared and his lack of discipline wasn't something to be desired particularly in a playoff situation, but there was no doubt Byfuglien was not only relied upon to be an energy creator, but a shutdown guy. And he did a pretty remarkably good job with that as well, holding Ryan Getzlaf to a mere four points.

-Kudos to the MTS Center crowd which was loud as all hell, living up to its reputation in the highest. And that whiteout was remarkable. It's truly amazing how a crowd can do that so well. Anaheim couldn't get a crowd united in wearing Orange no matter how hard it could try without giving away a free t-shirt. Even then there would still be dots of different colors throughout the concourses. There's definitely a fervent passion for this team up in Manitoba. Good luck to whoever sees you in the playoffs next. But just a word of advice... try not to be so sexist.

-And finally, kudos to the entire Jets team for making this a far more difficult series than it appeared to be. We all figured it would be difficult, but we could all see after game one that this series was far different from last year's first round vs. the Dallas Stars. This year was far tougher. The Jets are a deeper team who plays more physical and better defensively. If they were any faster, it probably would have been too much for Anaheim to handle. You have to love where the Jets are going though if you're a Winnipeg fan; the future looks very bright out there.