So, how is everyone feeling this morning now that the realization has set in that the Red Wings' post-season is 50% over? Man, time really flies... I kid, I kid... Kinda... Not really... But kinda... Maybe we should all take a bit more interest in these other teams so we know who to cheer for in Round 2? I promise there will be less doom-and-gloom as we go here.
LAST NIGHT'S RECAP
Last night started with one of the best decisions the NHL has made in years. Struggling market that just put together one of its best seasons ever? Let's give them back-to-back home games to really screw with the fan base and make a chippy Game 2! Nobody down in Florida will know the difference between that and good hockey! Seriously, Bettman, you're supposed to be the marketing genius. Stop flirting with the Las Vegas ownership group and do right by the franchises you already have in place.
The Panthers/Isles game was a bit of a different affair than the 5-4 Isles victory of Game 1. A 3-1 victory for the home team, the Panthers got big goals from some of the young kids (Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith, and Dmitry Kulikov with the EN) that have had so much faith placed in them by coaching and management over the years. I guess even when you have Jaromir Jagr, you have to learn to not lean on your veterans all the time... Are you paying attention, Holland and Blashill? This series is tied 1-1 and will only get more interesting as it shifts to the brand new "We Hate Our Fans So Much That We Gave An SUV Front Row Seats" Center.
The Blackhawks and Blues had another close one in St. Louis, as Chicago evened the series 1-1 and now holds home-ice advantage. Funny story, as I was prepping this post and put a placeholder in to recap the "Blues v B-hawks" game, my iPhone kept trying to correct it to "Blues v B-holes". Siri, you're so smart...
The story of the night for this one was the return of Duncan Keith to the Chicago line-up. After facing a multi-game suspension (including Game 1 of the playoffs) for being a really really swell guy, he injected some pep into Chicago's game that helped prevent this match from going 70 minutes scoreless. Despite feeling no affection for either team here, this might be the series to watch for Round 1.
Last night's finale saw the Ducks/Predators series begin 2 days after it should have. The delay was... actually worth it! For anyone up late and wallowing in enough misery after the Wings game, this made for a really entertaining end to the night. This game had action all over the place, including a James Neal goal 35-seconds into the contest, lead changes, star-players living up to the moniker, and closing tension as Anaheim tried desperately not to give up the win. Hate whoever you want here, this was still entertaining hockey and I feel dirty saying that.
Oh, and we played Tampa Bay. Blargh.
Match-Up #1: Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers (Game 2), 3:00pm EDT - NBC
In Game 1, the Penguins got out to a 2-0 lead and were aided by a Henrik Lundqvist eye injury to cruise to a 5-2 win at home. Nothing official has been sent out regarding Lundqvist's status for Game 2, but it's the playoffs - if he thinks he can play at even 75%, he'll be in net. In other injury news, Evgeni Malkin is considering a Game 2 return from injury to give Pittsburgh the kind of offense opposing goalies have night-terrors over. I wouldn't put it past New York to try to wait out a status update on Malkin before deciding on Lundqvist...
|Chris Kunitz||Sidney Crosby||Patric Hornqvist|
|Conor Sheary||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Carl Hagelin||Nick Bonino||Phil Kessel|
|Tom Kuhnhackl||Matt Cullen||Eric Fehr|
|Olli Maatta||Kris Letang|
|Brian Dumoulin||Trevor Daley|
|Ian Cole||Justin Schultz|
|Jeff Zatkoff (starting)|
New York Rangers
|Chris Kreider||Derek Stepan||Rick Nash|
|J.T. Miller||Derick Brassard||Mats Zuccarello|
|Eric Staal||Kevin Hayes||Jesper Fast|
|Tanner Glass||Dominic Moore||Viktor Stalberg|
|Marc Staal||Dan Girardi|
|Keith Yandle||Kevin Klein|
|Brady Skjei||Dan Boyle|
|Henrik Lundqvist (starting)|
Why You Care Enough To Watch: You're just as desperate as I am to know how to pronounce the name "Skjei". Also, the Pittsburgh offense is like watching a train coming at you... you want to look away, move, scream, something, ANYTHING. But it's just too powerful and frightening, and you just can't turn away from it. #jealousy
Match-Up #2: Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers (Game 2), 7:00pm EDT - CNBC, CSN-DC, CSN-PH
When we last left this series, Washington was looking like a well oiled precision machine and Philly was looking like their own Broad Street Bully mascot to end the regular season. Game 1 left Washington looking in need of oil but still running fine, and the Flyers completely living up to their goon reputation. Case in point: Wayne Simmonds.
Simmonds put up 60 points this season, 2nd on the Flyers for the year, and thought it would be a great idea to fight legendary 4th-liner Tom Wilson while the game was still up for grabs. The Red Wings equivalent of that would be sending Pavel Datsyuk out to fight Mike Blunden in our series. Don't worry about killing the Philly offense for 5 minutes, Wayne - you do you.
|Alex Ovechkin||Nicklas Backstrom||T.J. Oshie|
|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)|
|Jakub Voracek||Claude Giroux||Wayne Simmonds|
|Michael Raffl||Not Sean Couturier||Brayden Schenn|
|Matt Read||Nick Cousins||Sam Gagner|
|Chris VandeVelde||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||Ryan White|
|Nick Schultz||Mark Streit|
|Andrew MacDonald||Shayne Gostisbehere|
|Brandon Manning||Radko Gudas|
|Steve Mason (starting)|
Why You Care Enough To Watch: It will be worth it just to see which MMA fighter the Flyers call-up in place of Sean Couturier. After a hit from Ovie in the 2nd, Couturier did not return and has since been ruled out for the next two weeks (about one week longer than the Flyers' playoff run will last).
On the flip side, Washington has some impressive pieces not named Ovechkin that are worth paying attention to in their symphony-on-ice. Marcus Johansson assisted on both Game 1 goals, Kuznetsov is some kind of cyborg programmed with all of Ovechkin's talent, and Braden Holtby continues to amaze even when his team leaves zero pressure on him to steal a game. History will smile on this collection of players.
Match-Up #3: Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild (Game 2), 8:00pm EDT - NBCSN, FS-SW, FS-N, FS-WI
I don't want to give the impression that the Wild had no chance in this game, as they kept it scoreless for the first 24 minutes. But after Dallas got the first one, the Wild were almost an insult to the "steamed chicken" comparison I made last time. True, they were missing Parise and Vanek, but Dallas was also without Tyler Seguin. Just imagine how bad it would have been if Seguin had played...
|Kari Lehtonen (starting)
Devan Dubnyk (starting)
Why You Care Enough To Watch: By watching, you'll know exactly what's going on when you're rooting for the Stars against either the Blackhawks or the Blues in Round 2. Using the transitive property, we can totally claim victory over whoever Dallas beats because we gave them Jim Nill and he put their roster together. So really, his victories are our victories. Yay logic!
Match-Up #4: Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks(Game 2), 10:30pm EDT - NBCSN, FS-W, CSN-CA
The road team took the victory in Game 1 of the Battle of California series. This game was close thru 2 periods before Joe Pavelski decided the score should be finalized almost a full period before the end of regulation, netting a wrap-around goal 17 seconds into the third for a 4-3 final score. The Kings really failed to live up to their name in this one, playing more like Knaves and getting a little puck luck with 2 of their 3 goals bouncing in off of Sharks players. Game 1 could have gone even farther in San Jose's favor, so it will be interesting to see how the Kings show up in Game 2.
Los Angeles Kings
|Jonathan Quick (starting)
San Jose Sharks
|Martin Jones (starting)
Why You Care Enough To Watch: Your hatred for Milan Lucic should be just strong enough to get you interested in this one. After his gentlemanly demeanor towards Danny Dekeyser in 2014, I know I wouldn't mind seeing him golfing in another week. Actually, it's probably best to not put any club-like-objects in his hands... Just cut to the chase already, Milan, and go sign with the Flyers this off-season.
As always, feel free to use the comments as the Game Day Thread.