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Playoff Scoreboard Watch: Grab Your Brooms!

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Three teams look to get a strangle-hold on their series, while the Caps get ready to sweep up some Philly filth...

In Russia, the scoreboard watches Alex Ovechkin.
In Russia, the scoreboard watches Alex Ovechkin.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff landscape is really coming into focus now, with the "Haves" and "Have-Nots" slowly being weeded out.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Red Wings are part of the latter group as opposed to the former.  All the more reason to pick a secondary team to root for, so you can help sweep some sadness away!

LAST NIGHT'S RECAP

Opposing our gut-wrenching game, the Pittsburgh Penguins went to Madison Square Garden to challenge the New York Rangers for the lead in their series.  Pittsburgh was back to Matt Murray in net, who only allowed 1 goal against on 16 shots while the Pens netted 3 against Henrik Lundqvist to seal a 3-1 victory and 2-1 series lead.  OK, here's the thing - Pittsburgh has a really potent offense that needs to be respected... but I'm not going to respect it.  Detroit still hates Sidney Crosby, and hatred is forever.  Go Rangers.

The Blues and Blackhawks series continues to be every bit as intense as it has been other nights.  Chicago benefited from... not really some questionable calls, but a bit of an extended scrum that maybe should have gone in the Blues' favor in the 2nd.  Chicago made a huge push after that, going up 2-1, but the Blues refused to go away and would take a 2-2 tie into the locker room after 2 periods.

Momentum was all over the place in the 3rd, but Chicago's Andrew Shaw did his best Bellemare impression with about 2:00 to go and put his team in a real pinch while down 4-3.  Anyone watching nationally has to be rooting for the Blues after seeing Shaw's hit and possibly reading his lips for the next few minutes.  He was not a happy bunny as the Blues went up 3-1 in the series.  Shaw even jumped one of the Blues after the game was over to cement his image as a really classy guy.  Play some real hockey, Chicago.

The Predators made the decision to yellow-out their arena for Game 3 against the Ducks, and it really paid off as Anaheim was able to take a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.  Seriously, it looked like Pekka Rinne actually ducked to get out of the way of the third goal.  The only thing uglier than the Predator's play last night was how much of an eye-sore all the yellow in the stands was.  A threatening migraine forced me to go back to watching the Chicago game.  No score change in the third meant you can't count on home ice advantage in this series, as Nashville is up 2-1.

TONIGHT'S ACTION

Match-Up #1:  Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00PM EDT - NBCSN, CSN-DC, CSN-PH

The Flyers are bad and they should feel bad.  This game is the first opportunity of the post-season to see a team get swept, and I can't think of a goonier bunch of hockey players it could happen to.  Philly stopped just short of creating an all-out brawl in their losing effort in Game 3, while the wheels came completely off their fail-bus.  Despite scoring first, Philly would let in the next 6 (SIX) goals with 5 of them coming on the man-advantage.  After going down 3-1, the Flyers got sloppy even by their standards and, once it was 4-1, appeared to just go for a win by their best imitation of the movie Slap Shot.  As a result, Bellemare gets to start his golfing one game early because even the NHL DoPS knows the sweep is coming.

Projected Line-Ups
Washington Capitals

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
Karl Alzner Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov Taylor Chorney
Braden Holtby (starting)
Philipp Grubauer
Philadelphia Flyers

Jakub Voracek Claude Giroux Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl Brayden Schenn Sam Gagner
Scott Laughton Nick Cousins Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde Colin McDonald? Ryan White
Nick Schultz Mark Streit
Andrew MacDonald Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning Radko Gudas
Michal Neuvirth (starting)
Steve Mason

Why You Care Enough To Watch: You know this game is going to be an absolute mess.  My best guesses for the Flyers roster are that C-Mac and Neuvirth both make it in considering what happened in Game 3, but we all know it's not going to matter.  This is going to get ugly, bloody, and disgusting.  I almost feel bad plugging it as a game to watch, but if the Capitals can show mastery over the goon and thug display from the Flyers then it could be a fulfilling night.

Match-Up #2:  Florida Panthers at New York Islanders, 8:00PM EDT - USA, MSG+, FS-F

The Panthers and Islanders are once again playing on our off night, which actually makes for decent entertainment.  I recapped this game in the previous Scoreboard post, but feel the need to reiterate the pace at which these games have been played.  This is FAST hockey, all offense, don't-bother-defending-just-recover-rebounds-and-move-up-the-ice type stuff.  Watch and you may just break a sweat.

Projected Line-Ups
Florida Panthers

Jonathan Huberdeau Aleksander Barkov Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen Nick Bjugstad Reilly Smith
Jiri Hudler Rocco Grimaldi Teddy Purcell
Garrett Wilson Derek MacKenzie Shawn Thornton
Brian Campbell Aaron Ekblad
Dmitry Kulikov Erik Gudbranson
Michael Matheson Alex Petrovic
Roberto Luongo (starting)
Al Montoya
New York Islanders

Frans Nielsen John Tavares Kyle Okposo
Nikolay Kulemin Brock Nelson Josh Bailey
Shane Prince Alan Quine Ryan Strome
Matt Martin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey Ryan Pulock
Thomas Greiss (starting)
Jean-Francois Berube

Why You Care Enough To Watch: This style of play is worth watching because it's different from how the Red Wings engage opponents.  If the Wings turn games into boxing matches, both opponents methodically jabbing and feeling for weaknesses between flurries of action, the Panthers and Islanders are going to turn this into a back-alley MMA match (not the same way the Flyers would).  Both teams are going to come out swinging, take their hits, and just hope they land more on the other guy than they end up taking.  Look for Florida to even this series up at 2 games each.

Match-Up #3:  Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild, 9:30PM EDT - NBCSN, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW

Well, you can't out-gun an opponent forever.  Dallas was unable to keep their potent offense rolling for Game 3, and their mediocre defense and, frankly, poor goaltending weren't able to compensate.  I'm not so sure it was having last change that made the difference for Minnesota as much as Dallas just having an off-night, but the result was the same either way.  Up 2-1 in a series that should have been a sweep, it's still Dallas' series to lose if they can't pull it together for Game 4.

Projected Line-Ups
Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn Cody Eakin Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark Jason Spezza Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel Radek Faksa Ales Hemsky
Colton Sceviour Vernon Fiddler Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya Stephen Johns
Jordie Benn Jason Demers
Kari Lehtonen (starting)
Antti Niemi
Minnesota Wild

Mikael Granlund Mikko Koivu David Jones
Jason Zucker Charlie Coyle Justin Fontaine
Nino Niederreiter Erik Haula Jason Pominville
Chris Porter Zac Dalpe Kurtis Gabriel
Ryan Suter Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella Nate Prosser
Jonas Brodin Mathew Dumba
Devan Dubnyk (starting)
Darcy Kuemper

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Even steamed chicken gets spiced up once in a while.  Don't expect to see it again, as Dallas should be MAD about getting beaten at their own game.  Minnesota won the scoring race while still missing two scoring pieces in Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek.  If you like revenge games, this is a good candidate for your attention.

Match-Up #4:  Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks, 10:30PM EDT - USA, CSN-CA, FS-W

Instead of using this space to recap what happened in Game 3 (an OT victory for the Kings to bring the series to 2-1 Sharks leading), I need to take a moment to talk about Brent Burns' beard.  Look at this thing...  That's not a Playoff Beard - Burns has superglued a yeti to his face.  This is not the beard of a man who knows the modern comfort of electricity.  The only explanation for that beard is that Burns is posing as a homeless man in his spare time in order to get close to, and spy on, organized crime in San Jose.  Inspiration for this beard can only be that Burns is trying to mimic the look of a yak's hind-end.  Brent, if you're reading this, we criticize because we care (you want to ask for a trade to Detroit for next year, right?).  Honorable mention to Joe Thornton's beard with a racing stripe, by the way...

Projected Line-Ups
Los Angeles Kings

Milan Lucic Anze Kopitar Marian Gaborik
Tanner Pearson Jeff Carter Tyler Toffoli
Dustin Brown Vincent Lecavalier Kris Versteeg
Dwight King Nick Shore Trevor Lewis
Brayden McNabb Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin Luke Schenn
Rob Scuderi Jamie McBain
Jonathan 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 Tierney Tommy Wingels
Paul Martin Rasputin's Beard On Skates
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon Roman Polak
Martin Jones (starting)
James Reimer

Why You Care Enough To Watch: Aside from the beard?  Game 3 was a very tightly contested match, with lots of chances, lots of big saves, a little bit of iron rung, and scoring a rarity.  That's not to imply that either or both of these teams can't score in bunches, because they absolutely can.  But these squads match up well against each other.  Good match ups make for good games and good TV.  After our game last night, give your TV something good.

LGRW