May 1, 2013, 8:06 AM EST
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.
Dec 18, 2014, 1:42 PM EST
The Oilers’ farm team could be moving west in 2015-16.
Dec 18, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Joins Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom on the shelf.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
“Sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back.”
Dec 18, 2014, 12:28 PM EST
With a hairline fracture in his ankle.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:13 PM EST
Along with builder Fran Rider, and former Swedish international Maria Rooth.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Former 20-goal scorer — and Stanley Cup winner — has been a bust in Nashville.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:51 AM EST
“It’s a pretty simple game I play, and if they’re not a fan of it, I’ve got to play somewhere else, I guess.”
Dec 18, 2014, 11:36 AM EST
Where he’ll play alongside Rangers forward Anthony Duclair.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:32 AM EST
The 21-year-old had three points in four games.
Dec 18, 2014, 10:47 AM EST
Thomas Greiss is being isolated in case he also has the ailment.
Dec 18, 2014, 9:49 AM EST
“He respected all of you unconditionally.”
Dec 18, 2014, 8:34 AM EST
Thursday’s collection of links.
Dec 18, 2014, 2:25 AM EST
Vancouver has now lost a season-high five straight.
Dec 18, 2014, 2:05 AM EST
Chris Stewart is one name, which has been linked to Boston.
Dec 18, 2014, 1:40 AM EST
He’s even walking under his own power according to the report.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:45 AM EST
Calgary signed Bob Hartley to a multi-year extension Wednesday.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
The Devils have lost five straight.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:45 PM EST
Boston snaps three game skid.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Jason Akeson was in on the action for the Flyers’ affiliate.
Dec 17, 2014, 10:41 PM EST
New Jersey has lost five straight on home ice.
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