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Playoff Scoreboard Watch: Nothing Else To Live For

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Time to bandwagon-up to another city's squad... It will help kill the pain.

Datsyuk never watches scoreboards... just the puck...
Datsyuk never watches scoreboards... just the puck...
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

We're all dealing with some things today.  And that's OK, I'm right there with you.  Being the first team knocked out of the playoffs is never easy, and considering certain Russian factors, the end of the Red Wings season could take some significant time to get over this year.  In the mean time I suggest you relax, take a few deep breaths, grab enough snacks to eat your feelings, and dive into the other games going on right now.

LAST NIGHT'S RECAP

Last night wasn't just painful for us - the Rangers were officially taken to pound-town in their own building, as the Penguins completely dominated a 5-0 game.  Evgeny Malkin was back in his usual form, posting 4 points on the night, and young goalie Matt Murray didn't fare too poorly either with a 31-save shutout.  If we didn't have Mrazek, I'd be jealous of the Pens for having Murray.  Nothing much else to say here except that the Hockey Gods were not letting the Rangers out of this one on top.  Leading the series 3-1, the Penguins will look to close this out at home in Game 5.

In Nashville, the Ducks turned their A-game on the Predators in a 4-1 final to even the series at 2 games each.  I'm not even sure what to make of these teams, as each team has lost both of their home games.  Somehow, they manage to get worse having the last line change...? If that's the case, the next game (back in Anaheim) will be interesting as the Ducks try to fix their home problems in the face of Nashville's road confidence.

Frederik Andersen could be the X-factor for the Ducks.  This guy had the starting job to begin the season, played well but the offense wouldn't support him, lost the starting job to John Gibson, and now has apparently won the job back in the playoffs.  Allowing 1 goal in the 2 games in Nashville, Andersen has seemingly elevated the Ducks right now.  They'll ride him until they break him in the quest for 4 wins.

OK, let's get this out of the way first... Shaw was suspended for last night's game against the Blues.  I know there are lots of opinions and issues from all kinds of fans regarding his actions and those taken by the NHL afterwards, but the microcosm of this game recap is not where those opinions need to be discussed.  There may or may not be a post regarding the larger social issue, but for tonight let's just acknowledge that he didn't play and move on from there.

Have I mentioned before how intense this series has been?  Even this game was crazy.  Chicago pulled away early to a 3-1 lead, then St. Louis stormed back late in the 3rd to send the game to OT.  The extra time would be evenly back and forth until a mad scramble in the 2nd overtime when the Blackhawks kept some really good zone pressure.  A screened shot with Elliott on the left side of the net rebounded off a player and skirted thru the crease, as Patrick Kane raced around behind to slam the puck into the empty net and keep Chicago's season alive.  The Hockey Gods have been cruel tonight.

TONIGHT'S ACTION

Match-Up #1:  Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers (Game 5), 7:00PM EDT - NBCSN, CSN-DC, CSN-PH

WHAT THE HELL, CAPS?  YOU HAD ONE JOB!  Game 4 was supposed to be a broom game where you sweep, not a vacuum game where you suck!  In all fairness, it looks like the goaltending switch paid off for Philly.  Neuvirth did everything he could to keep the Flyers in this game in the third period, and succeeded.  There's still no reason for the Caps to lose this series unless the most lopsided collapse in NHL history happens, but they probably want to consider re-focusing for tonight.

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

Brayden Schenn Claude Giroux Wayne Simmonds
Jakub Voracek Michael Raffl Sam Gagner
Colin McDonald? Nick Cousins Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde Pierre-Edouard Bellemare 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: The Caps have a chance to close it out on home ice, and Neuvirth has a chance to steal another game if he can stand on his head again.  If the latter happens instead of the former, you will DEFINITELY need to stay tuned to this one.  It would probably be the most epic "Caps-Collapse" in the history of the franchise if Philly could come back to take the series, and would be even more painful for Washington fans than our loss last night was.  Savor the taste of the delicious tears of Caps fans as they call for Trotz's head... mostly because we might want him here...

Match-Up #2:  Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders (Game 5), 8:00PM EDT - CNBC, SUN, MSG+

All tied up at 2 games each, this series remains up for grabs.  Both teams have won and lost at home.  Both teams have had their good and bad moments.  Despite the disparity in regular season standings, these squads seem pretty evenly matched overall.  Florida largely carried play in Game 4, despite the close score, but that hasn't really meant much game-to-game in this one yet.  Be ready for unpredictability.

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 is the Battle of the Forgotten Teams.  Despite finishing second in the Atlantic, Tampa Bay is still the big name in Florida.  The Rangers are the Original Six power in town, leaving the Islanders as the clean-up niche market - think the Mets of hockey.  Whoever wins this series, an underdog is coming out on top.  And sometimes it's nice to root for an underdog.

Match-Up #3:  Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild (Game 5), 9:30PM EDT - NBCSN, FS-SW, FS-N, FS-WI

Tyler Seguin continues to miss time for the Stars, but they find ways to win without him.  Dallas responded to their Game 3 loss by edging out the Wild 3-2 in Game 4, taking a 3-1 series lead.  If they can get their offense rolling back at home for Game 5, this should clean up nicely for Dallas.

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
Kris Russell Jason Demers
Antti Niemi (starting)
Kari Lehtonen
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: The Wild were able to expose some holes in Dallas' game in the two games in Minnesota.  Even though they only won one of those matches, they might be building a blue-print.  Although the Wild probably lose this match, it will be key to watch how the Dallas defense performs.  If they keep playing "all gas, no brakes" hockey, things could get tough for them after this round.

Match-Up #4:  Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks (Game 5), 10:30PM EDT - CNBC, PRIME, CSN-CA

So, apparently this is what it looks like to actually have a powerplay.  The Sharks netted 3 while up one skater in Game 4 to move to a 3-1 series lead against the Kings.  Brent Burns' beard must be the source of his power... If LA had any sense, they'd knock him down and then run over it with a skate.  I'm pretty sure he's like Sampson, and eliminating the root of his offensive prowess looks like the Kings' best way to eliminate the Sharks.  Burns is tied for the team lead in post-season points and drives this team from the blue-line.  Neutralizing him has to be LA's main plan... the only problem being that the rest of the San Jose offense seems to be rolling, too.

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: You and I both know that you don't like the Kings.  They've won 2 Cups recently and have this awful air of "California hockey rules!" about them.  Success + attitude = hatred (is this how other fan bases see the Red Wings?).  Not that you like the Sharks either... they just aren't the Kings.  And sometimes, that's enough to go on.  Send Lucic golfing, Sharks!

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