May 2, 2013, 8:19 AM EDT
So much for sweating about goals. Last night saw a couple of blowouts and some excitement out West.
The final two series yet to play kick off tonight with a pair of Game 2s to go with it. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Game 1: Montreal Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET, CNBC)
The Habs might be looking to copy the Boston Bruins in tonight’s Game 1. Like the Bruins, the Habs stumbled at the end of the season headed to the postseason and like them they’ll hope that with the playoffs starting, all the regular season worries evaporate. Carey Price closed the season not looking all that hot and going up against Daniel Alfredsson and the Senators will give them the kind of battle they need to know where exactly they’re at.
Both teams were surprising in their own ways this season, but if Montreal runs into trouble against Ottawa it’ll likely be thanks to goaltender Craig Anderson. If not for injury, he’d be a legit Vezina candidate this season and if he plays as strong as he has this season in the playoffs, it’ll be up to Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban to get him figured out quickly.
The season series between these two was close with Montreal winning it 2-1-1 with two shootout games in the mix.
Game 1: Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
So they meet again. For the fourth time in five years these two square off and by now you have to think they know each other inside and out. This year’s series has a different feel to it though.
Last year’s snoozer of a seven game set gets replaced by the resurgent Alex Ovechkin and a Caps team firing on all cylinders going up against a Rangers team that’s got its swagger back. The depth is there again (even with Ryane Clowe and Brian Boyle hurting) and guys like Derek Stepan and Rick Nash are playing great. Oh yeah, and there’s Henrik Lundqvist still in goal too.
New York took the season series going 2-0-1 against the Caps this season. If they can keep Ovechkin quiet, they’ll have a great shot at the upset.
Game 2: St. Louis Blues host the Los Angeles Kings up 1-0 in series (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Game 1 saw the Blues come out and hit the defending Stanley Cup champions right in the mouth. While we saw some of that same Kings magic from last season when Justin Williams scored late in the third to tie the game up, the Blues still prevailed thanks to Jon Quick turning the puck over to Alex Steen behind his own net while on the power play.
You have to believe those mistakes won’t happen again and the Kings will be hungry to tie this series up and head back to L.A. You also have to think the Blues aren’t going to play things any differently and will bring that high-intensity forecheck once again.
One thing the Blues could use, however, is some puck luck. The posts went home with bruises thanks to Blues shots clanging off them. If they can get their offense in gear they’ll be that much more dangerous.
Game 2: Anaheim Ducks host the Detroit Red Wings up 1-0 in series (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Anaheim was able to turn things on Detroit thanks to guys like Teemu Selanne and Nick Bonino doing the damage as opposed to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Jonas Hiller‘s strong play in goal had a lot to do with that as well, but the Wings are seemingly not rattled by how things went in Game 1.
Detroit’s youngsters like Gustav Nyqvist and Damien Brunner will need to be more of a factor to give Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg the offensive help they’ll need to even up the series heading back home. One thing Detroit definitely has to do is clean up their penalty killing.
The Wings gave up two power play goals to the Ducks in Game 1 and that’s what made the difference. The Ducks should worry about the same as Detroit’s lone tally also came on the man advantage.
Here’s PHT’s Mike Halford and Jason Brough breaking down the Blues-Kings physicality and taking a look at Rangers-Capitals.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
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