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Scoreboard Watch Returns: Playoff Edition

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As if you're doing anything else on a Thursday night during the Playoffs...

Yep, this is what the Leafs are doing now...
Yep, this is what the Leafs are doing now...
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cue the music - hockey is back!  After a long wait since Sunday, the Playoffs got into full swing last night with some fun games around the league.  I'm sure nobody is aware of this, but there were two other games going on last night in addition to the Red Wings debut against the Lightning.  I know, weird right?

LAST NIGHT'S RECAP

What does this look like, the game recap from last night?  This is for watching out-of-town scoreboards.  If you want the recap from the Wings game, go here.  I'm not touching it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the New York Rangers to start their series.  You'll remember the Rangers were that team that tried and failed to lose to us on the last Saturday of the regular season.  Good job not drawing the Penguins in the first round, Blue-Shirts.  To celebrate their home ice advantage, Pittsburgh decided to wear their ugly jerseys (they're ALL Pittsburgh's ugly jerseys).

Maybe the hideousness gives the Penguins power or something?  They took a tight 2-0 lead against the Rangers into the 3rd period and used momentum from a short-handed goal to crush New York in a 5-2 final.  Pittsburgh just rolled in this one, with their AHL squad coming up big yet again.  These guys are scary, and that's a scary thing to say.  Then again, they might have had some help from a surprise appearance by Antti Raanta after Henrik Lundqvist left the game in the 1st with an eye injury and did not return.

In the only other action from the night, the St. Louis Blues brought the Chicago Blackhawks into town for the beginning of the "Detroit Hates You vs Detroit Hates You" series.  I'll let you guess which is which.  Despite being badly outshot entering the second period, the Blues managed to hang in there.  More than hang, really, as this one went scoreless thru regulation.

It ended half-way thru the 1st OT period on a great offensive zone series by the Blues.  On a cross-crease pass, David Backes managed to bank the puck in behind Corey Crawford off Trevor van Riemsdyk to go 1-up on the series.  Hitting, astounding saves, odd-man rushes, overtime... this game had everything you want in hockey except scoring.  I want to hate on this game, but... it was a REALLY good one to watch...

TONIGHT'S ACTION

Match-Up #1:  Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders (Game 1)

Time: 8:00 ET

TV: CNBC, SN, TVAS2, FS-F, MSG+

For a team that's so rarely made the playoffs in their existence, the Florida Panthers sure showed up in a big way this year.  Taking the top seed in the Atlantic Division, the Panthers are a weird mix of the Ageless Wonder Jaromir Jagr and a slew of 1st round lottery picks-turned-roster-players. The Florida fans will toss rats at the Isles, who never seemed to click this season.  They had spurts of strong play, particularly late this season, but have also seen some key injuries that are sure to dampen their post-season aspirations.

Projected Line-Ups

Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau Aleksander Barkov Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen Nick Bjugstad Reilly Smith
Teddy Purcell Rocco Grimaldi Jiri Hudler
Garrett Wilson Derek MacKenzie Shawn Thornton
Brian Campbell Aaron Ekblad
Dmitry Kulikov Michael Matheson
Jakub Kindl Alex Petrovic
Roberto Luongo (starting)
Al Montoya
New York Islanders
Frans Nielsen John Tavares Kyle Okposo
Nikolay Kulemin Brock Nelson Josh Bailey
Shane Prince Ryan Strome Steve Bernier
Matt Martin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey Ryan Pulock
Thomas Greiss (starting)
Chris Gibson

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Whoever wins this series goes on to face the Wings after we beat Tampa.  Florida is this year's Calgary - they don't have the fancy stats to back up their play.  Bolstered by good shooting and good goaltending, they'll either fold like a paper tiger kitty, or make us re-think the legitimacy of advanced possession metrics.

The Islanders are the Red Wings of the Metro Division, only more so - a preseason powerhouse who ended up making everyone think "huh, who'd have thought they'd finish all the way down there"...  This is New York's OTHER team, the one people from the city talk about like "Oh the Isles are OK, I guess they won some Presidency Trophy or something... BUT THE RANGERS MADE THE WILD CARD, BABY!!!"  That's gotta feel good, you know, in John Tavares' soul...  Grab popcorn and just enjoy yourself while this one gets ugly.

Match-Up #2:  Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers (Game 1)

Time: 7:00 ET

TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, CSN-DC, CSN-PH

The President's Trophy winning Capitals open their home ice advantage by inviting over that cousin you have who always gets drunk and tries to fight you.  It doesn't matter that he came over for the crochet party you're hosting - he's still a 12-pack of PBR deep and thinks your couch looked at him funny.  This series is really going to be a tale of two styles - the symphony of precision and offense that defines the Capitals, and the... whatever you call it that Philly does on the ice.

Projected Line-Ups

Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin Nicklas Backstrom T.J. Oshie (questionable)
Andre Burakovsky Evgeny Kuznetsov Justin Williams
Jason Chimera Mike Richards Marcus Johansson
Daniel Winnik Jay Beagle Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik John Carlson
Karl Alzner Matt Niskanen
Dmitri Orlov Nate Schmidt
Braden Holtby (starting)
Philipp Grubauer
Philadelphia Flyers
Jakub Voracek Claude Giroux Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl Sean Couturier Brayden Schenn
Matt Read Nick Cousins Sam Gagner
Chris VandeVelde Pierre-Edouard Bellemare Ryan White
Nick Schultz Mark Streit
Brandon Manning Shayne Gostisbehere
Yevgeni Medvedev Radko Gudas
Steve Mason (starting)
Anthony Stolarz

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Even with our mini-rivalry against Nashville, you never hated Barry Trotz.  All jokes aside, there are few coaches in any sport that have ever done more with less than he did behind Nashville's bench.  Now that he actually has offensive talent and a defense competent beyond its top pair, he's probably the most deserving person outside of Detroit to get some success this year.  Ditto Ovechkin - the guy has been one of the best since he arrived and has typically just been surrounded by junk.  Now that he actually has a full team of talent and a good coach behind him, the only reason you have to root against this guy is if he plays against Detroit.  Kick back with some classical music playing over whatever commentary is airing and just watch some pretty hockey.

Also, goon hockey is dead and the Flyers need to just go away.

Match-Up #3:  Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild (Game 1)

Time: 9:30 ET

TV: NBCSN, SN360, TVAS3, FS-SW, FN-N, FS-W

Dallas was a force to be reckoned with during the regular season.  A high-flying offense covering what seemed to be an improving defense, the Stars clung on to the top spot in a tough Central division entering the playoffs.  There are players to envy on offense and defense from this squad (Seguin is questionable), and their philosophy is definitely "shoot first, ask questions later".  A questionable identity at times, but at least it's an identity.

They face a Minnesota Wild squad whose identity can be best described as "steamed chicken".  No flavor, no pizzazz, just the basic hockey nutrients.  The Wild will be without Zach Parise and the streaky scratch Thomas Vanek for the first two games.  As if that would help them anyway.

Projected Line-Ups

Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn Cody Eakin Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin Jason Spezza Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel Radek Faksa Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen Vernon Fiddler Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya Stephen Johns
Kris Russel Jason Demers
Kari Lehtonen (starting)
Antti Niemi
Minnesota Wild
Jason Zucker Mikko Koivu Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter Mikael Granlund Jason Pominville
Chris Porter Zach Dalpe David Jones
Ryan Carter Jarret Stoll Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella Jonas Brodin
Nate Prosser Matthew Dumba
Devan Dubnyk (starting)
Darcy Kuemper

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Because you're a masochist and you like to cry over what could have been if Jim Nill's and Ken Holland's places were swapped.  And because you want to laugh at Ryan Suter for not coming to Detroit.  No no no, Ryan... you go ahead and stay in Minneapolis.  We don't even want you here anymore (PLEASE ASK TO BE TRADED TO DETROIT FOR ERICSSON).

Match-Up #4:  Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks (Game 1)

Time: 10:30 ET

TV: CNBC, CBC, TVAS, FS-W, CSN-CA

California remains the only place in the Pacific Division that knows how to ice a winning hockey team.  Go figure, a place that never sees ice naturally actually isn't half-bad on it.  LA and San Jose will fight for the right to play that other California team that was named after a movie franchise.  LA is arguably one of the most dominant teams over the past few years, up there with the Blackhawks, and were the first NHL club to win the Stanley Cup as an 8 seed - so never really count them out.  San Jose has never made it past their Conference Finals - so I guess go ahead and count them out because logic?

Projected Line-Ups

Los Angeles Kings
Milan Lucic Anze Kopitar Tanner Pearson
Dustin Brown Jeff Carter Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King Vincent Lecavalier Kris Versteeg
Kyle Clifford Andy Andreoff Trevor Lewis
Brayden McNabb Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin Luke Schenn
Rob Scuderi Alec Martinez
Johnathan Quick (starting)
Jhonas Enroth
San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl Joe Thornton Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi Logan Couture Joel Ward
Melker Karlsson Patrick Marleau Matthew Nieto
Nick Spaling Chris Tierny Tommy Wingels
Paul Martin Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon Roman Polak
Martin Jones (starting)
James Reimer

Why You Care Enough To Watch: You don't.  Seriously, there are only 2 cities that even remotely care about this series - San Jose and Anaheim.  Los Angeles itself is too preoccupied with Kobe Bryant's farewell tour (I think he plays disc-golf or some other hippie California sport) to pay any attention to hockey.  And Dodgers baseball is getting into full swing, so kiss half the attendance in LA good-bye unless that rain storm they've been waiting for since 1985 finally hits.  Neither of these teams will make it to the Cup Finals anyway, so if their own fans don't care then why should you?

Feel free to use the comments section below for the Game-Day Thread for any of these games.  And as always...

LGRW