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.
Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He made his NHL debut with Washington last season.
Jul 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
In other words, they want him to be a shutdown center
Jul 24, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
Eriksson’s looking to bounce back after suffering two concussions last season.
Jul 24, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
He’ll get a fresh start after struggling with Vancouver.
Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He’s coming back after testing the free agent waters.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:57 PM EDT
It’s that time of the year.
Jul 24, 2014, 5:53 PM EDT
He started in nine games for the Flames last season.
Jul 24, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
The Canucks selected him with one of the picks they got from the Ryan Kesler trade.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT
The two sides managed to avoid arbitration despite a $1.45 million gap on a one-year deal.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Alternately known as “the guy Boston got for Vladimir Sobotka.”
Jul 24, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Journeyman split last season between the Rangers and Penguins.
Jul 24, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
Offensive d-man led all Colorado blueliners in goals last year, with 13.
Jul 24, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT
He’s likely to be the No. 3 goalie in New York this year.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Former Colorado bench boss and Massachusetts native returns home.
Jul 24, 2014, 10:28 AM EDT
With the Wild and ‘Canes, respectively.
Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
“Maybe it just wasn’t our time yet,” Patrick Roy said.
Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s assortment of links.
Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Makes sense for a franchise that frequently favors puck possession.
Jul 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Can the STAR system help reduce concussions?
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- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 30
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