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Playoffs tonight: Let the Conference finals begin

Jun 1, 2013, 9:56 AM EST

Tomas Vokun, Tyler Seguin AP

After a couple of days without any hockey, we can all rest easy now as both the Eastern and Western Conference finals begin today. Let the fun begin.

Game 1: Chicago Blackhawks host Los Angeles Kings (5 p.m. ET NBCSN/Live Extra)

Both teams had to sweat things out in a seven-game series in the previous round and now they’re ready to do it up in a conference finals match-up that sees a curious balance of power.

Last year’s Stanley Cup champions against this year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners. A tough, physical team with a red-hot Conn Smythe candidate goalie (Jonathan Quick) against a team oozing with offensive talent with a tricky defense to go with it. If there’s a place to look for how things will go, take a look at special teams.

Chicago will look to keep their game rolling as they were able to get their power play working against Detroit all while their penalty kill continued to be dominant (97.6% of penalties killed this postseason). The Kings, meanwhile, have a solid power play of their own (scoring on 20% of their opportunities). Provided the officials don’t put their whistles away, this could be a storyline to watch.

L.A. hasn’t been all that hot on the road in these playoffs. Of the six road games they’ve played in this postseason, they’ve only won one of them (Game 5 against St. Louis). After being road warriors last season losing just once away from Staples Center, things have evened out in a big way. Chicago will look to make sure they stay dreary on foreign ice tonight.

Game 1: Pittsburgh Penguins host Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET NBC/Live Extra)

It’s the series you almost knew had to happen after how things played out during the trade deadline. Both teams pursued the same players (Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla) and both chose to go to Pittsburgh. The Bruins countered by grabbing former Penguins legend Jaromir Jagr and now Jagr gets to try and help eliminate his former team for the second year in a row.

While those players will be contributors, all eyes are on the biggest players and how they’ll match up against each other. Sidney Crosby figures to see a lot of Patrice Bergeron while Evgeni Malkin and James Neal will have Zdeno Chara and his shadow stalking them around the ice.

If both teams come into tonight’s game feeling rusty, you can’t really blame them as they’ve had about a week to prepare for the start of this series. A big question here will be how the Bruins try to get Tomas Vokoun off his game. You have to think Milan Lucic will be a big factor here in crashing the net to try and make things uncomfortable.

  1. florida727 - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    The Blackhawks have given up one power play goal this post-season. There was ONE SECOND left on the penalty when Detroit scored. I’m no expert so I don’t know exactly why it’s so effective but obviously they’re doing something pretty special when they get a man down. They’re going to need to continue it against LA. Should be a heck of a series.

    One complaint: why can’t the NHL put the games on opposing nights? Prime time, one game per night, that way I can go to my office and NOT have to watch House Hunters, or some other idiotic show my girls want to watch! Really, is that asking too much?

  2. pens87 - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    What a long week it has been waiting for this to start. What great games these are going to be. Each series should go to at least 6 or 7. Lets get this started already!

  3. DonkeyStick - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Predictions everyone? Boston in 6

  4. pensman29 - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Pens in 5

  5. wisdomnfl - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Really interesting series’, I like the home teams but all four are quality clubs that can go all the way. Here’s to some great hockey!!

  6. jacketsfan7 - Jun 1, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Pens in a game 7 OT winner

    • holeecowman - Jun 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      lol

  7. Stiller43 - Jun 1, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Its about time! Been way too long off!

  8. mikep363839 - Jun 1, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Florida 727…you think ur a pimp saying girls trying to make urself look cool and noone from 727 is cool pinellas is soft…
    let me educate you, the games start alternating nights after tonight.
    The Hawks/Kings play back to back tonight an tomorrow.
    So your comment is stupid.

    • holeecowman - Jun 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      maybe he is referring to something you have no clue about wife/girlfriend and daughter/s so there. your comment is stupid, and that was dumb of me to even say that you moron. im sensing a green eyed monster.

      mikep363839= birth control please

  9. Stiller43 - Jun 1, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Mikep,

    I think me meant his daughters….

    • mp1131211 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      LOL! Classic…..

  10. indianhead1992 - Jun 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    both series going 7 games and i can’t choose who wins them! hopefully hawks win the west, for the east it doesn’t matter to me both tough teams. pick your poison with this stanley cup final

  11. sharksfan97 - Jun 1, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    I know I’m biased, but I love watching up tempo, fun hockey, and the Kings are perhaps the most boring team I’ve ever seen. So, in the name of watching good hockey (instead of a mediocre team with an all world goalie in Quick) I’m rooting for the Hawks!

  12. sharksfan97 - Jun 1, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Come to think of it, the Kings are the epitome of boring. The NHL can’t like having a champion whose play is boring, whose coaches answers are boring, even whose uniforms are boring. Really, the only thing interesting about the Kings is the fact that Drew Doughty keeps being accused of rape.

  13. holeecowman - Jun 1, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    hey did you see that cheap shot Crosby did what a low bridging pansy.

    imo I think he was trying to get the guys penis in his butt. lol

  14. holeecowman - Jun 1, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    although I despise pitt its going to be a helluva series and hope the bruins win it. as for the west another great series I just dfk

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