May 1, 2013, 8:06 AM EDT
Last night we had two games go into overtime and a third was tied through 40 minutes. Is that the start of a trend of tight games?
There are three more Game 1s tonight and they can all be viewed on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Game 1: The Boston Bruins host the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET, CNBC)
The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally ended their seven-season playoffs drought, but what will they do now that they’ve made it? Boston did finish the season with six games in nine days and had a 2-5-2 record in their last nine contests, so perhaps the Leafs can capitalize on those woes and take the series opener.
The big x-factor in this series is Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel. Typically Kessel is their biggest offensive threat, but he has just nine points and a minus-22 rating in 22 career contests against Boston. The Maple Leafs will have a hard time beating Boston if Kessel doesn’t hold his own against his former employers.
It’s also worth noting that Boston had a 3-1-0 record against Toronto in the regular season and were a perfect 6-0-0 versus the Maple Leafs in 2011-12.
Game 1: The Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Islanders (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
The Pittsburgh Penguins might not get Sidney Crosby (broken jaw) back for tonight’s contest, but that still leaves them with forwards James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, and Jarome Iginla. On top of that, they have Chris Kunitz, who might not be a household name, but still had an impressive 22 goals and 52 points in 48 games this season.
So its safe to say that the Pittsburgh Penguins can score goals, but will they be able to stop them? Their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012 was light on defense or goaltending and the Penguins ultimately lost in six matches despite scoring 26 goals. They need to play a more balanced game this time around.
This will also be New York Islanders forward John Tavares‘ playoff debut. The 22-year-old has helped the Islanders turn their franchise around and could cause headaches for the Penguins in this series.
The Vancouver Canucks host the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
There are lots of veterans on both teams that have been to the playoffs many times before and still haven’t won the Stanley Cup. 32-year-old twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin recently acknowledged that they’re running out of chances and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton, 33, is in the same boat.
The fact that both teams have an aging core also means that as franchises they’re in serious jeopardy of letting their respective windows of opportunity slip away. Every series will be hard fought, but these are two teams that might play with an added level of desperation.
Beyond that, the big source of intrigue heading into this game is the status of Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider, who is day-to-day with a “body” injury. If he’s unavailable, Roberto Luongo will be asked to bounce back from his 7-2 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
- Gillis won’t say if Tortorella’s lost Canucks room 18
- Stars win one night after Peverley collapse, give Miller first Blues loss 5
- Crosby, Pens continue recent dominance of Ovechkin, Caps 30
- Terry Trafford’s body found in Michigan on Tuesday 8
- PHT Extra: What happens if the Caps miss the playoffs? 18
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 6
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 60
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 11
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 27
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Chiasson ‘shaken up’ by Peverley incident, won’t dress for Stars tonight (73)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter (60)