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.
Aug 31, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
He continued to follow their summer moves after he was fired.
Aug 31, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
The late creator of Peanuts was a big hockey fan.
Aug 31, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT
The Colorado defenseman is still a restricted free agent.
Aug 31, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT
“I think that would make it a little more equitable for match-ups.”
Aug 31, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT
He spent the 2013-14 campaign in the KHL.
Aug 31, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
He served as an assistant general manager in Los Angeles before coming to Philadelphia.
Aug 31, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
After matching a career-low in goals during the 2013-14 season, he’s hoping for big things with the Coyotes.
Aug 31, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Add depth to blue line in Albany.
Aug 31, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT
Hopes to play in the NHL in 2014-15.
Aug 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08, he believes they’ll be back in the postseason in 2014-15.
Aug 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’s emphasized a quick shot release the most.
Aug 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
GM Doug Wilson points out that he was acquired to be a “stud defenseman.”
Aug 30, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT
Stefan Matteau is in the conversation, too.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
His new deal earned more than a few critics.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
He’s still just 21.
Aug 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Cory Schneider has some big shoes to fill.
Aug 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Frederik Andersen and John Gibson both have a shot at being No. 1.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT
The two sides are not budging in contract negotiations.
Aug 30, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
Will try to guide the Devils back to the postseason after two straight seasons without playoff hockey in New Jersey.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Will wear a different look in 2014-15.
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