Skip to content

PHT Morning Skate: Four Game 1s start it up tonight

Apr 17, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT

Patrick Marleau, Alec Martinez AP

Last night saw three series get things going on the opening night of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, each with wild levels of action and plenty of offense to go around.

Tonight, four more playoff series get under way in New York, St. Louis, Colorado, and San Jose. If you thought last night was a fun ride, wait til you get a load of this.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Thursday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Thursday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 1: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC)

These two teams split the season series against each other with each team winning twice. The difference between them as this series kicks off is a bit stark as Philly’s Steve Mason will miss Game 1 after suffering an injury in the final game of the season.

Going up against Henrik Lundqvist makes the night a bit tougher for the Flyers and their potent offense, but if last night is an indication of how the first round of the playoffs might go, coming out firing might be in Claude Giroux‘s best interest. Giroux’s MVP-like effort this season keyed the Flyers into getting into the postseason and guys like Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have followed suit.

How Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis respond will be important and with Ray Emery in goal for the Flyers to start the series off, time is ripe for the Rangers to get off to a good start.

Game 1: St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

All season long the Blues were the runaway favorites to win the West. Then the last few weeks happened where numerous key players got hurt and Ryan Miller struggled stopping the puck. Now, everyone can’t help but pick against the Blues to lose out to their arch-rivals, the Blackhawks.

The Blues will get everyone back to start the series, but so will the ‘Hawks who made do without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the final few weeks. The Blues swear up and down that things will be fine now that the playoffs have started, but it’s a lot easier to say these things when you don’t have Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp coming at you.

It’s never easy in the playoffs, but the Blues have a handful to deal with this time.

Game 1: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)

If there’s a series in the West that’s not getting a lot of notice in these playoffs, it’s this one and that’s a shame. Avs-Wild may not have the high-flying offense of the Ducks-Stars series or the rivalry qualities of either Blues-‘Hawks or Sharks-Kings, but that doesn’t mean there’s no heat here.

While things have changed a lot since they last met in the postseason in 2003, the Avalanche play the high-flying kind of hockey that’s found ways to frustrate teams. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon takes injured star Matt Duchene‘s spot on the top line and Colorado has some aches on the blue line to manage. That gives the Wild openings to attack them with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville leading the way.

If Ilya Bryzgalov stays hot into the postseason, he could provide a good counterpart to Semyon Varlamov in the Avs net. This could be a lot of fun.

Game 1: San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) 

What’s definitely going to be fun is this series. The Sharks and Kings are no strangers to each other in the playoffs by now and each of the past two times they’ve faced off it’s been outstanding hockey.

When you’ve got Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton on one side up against Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Brown on the other you’re in for some fun. What’s worth watching is how Marian Gaborik adds to the Kings attack and what Tomas Hertl can do for the Sharks after missing a good part of the season.

One thing the Sharks are hoping they can do is rattle Jonathan Quick in goal. Quick was a big reason why the Kings knocked off the Sharks in the playoffs last season, but San Jose will need Antti Niemi to be his equal if they’re going to move on. Staying up late on the East Coast is worth it for this series.

Latest Posts
  1. Oilers prospect Draisaitl helps lead Kelowna over Rimouski in Memorial Cup

    May 25, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT

    Leon Draisaitl Getty Images

    Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier had a big game too.

  2. Video: Getzlaf ties Ducks’ playoff points record

    May 25, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT

    Vatanen goal

    The first period was all Anaheim.

  3. Video: Ducks score twice in 32 seconds early in first period

    May 25, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT

    Kesler goal

    The Ducks got off to an ideal start.

  4. Report: Andrei Kostitsyn interested in returning to NHL

    May 25, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    Belarus v Slovenia - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Getty Images

    He was linked to Nashville’s playoff curfew incident.

  5. Mrazek knows ‘only one goalie can play’ as battle with Howard awaits

    May 25, 2015, 5:43 PM EDT

    Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings Getty Images

    There’s going to be a fight for the No. 1 gig in Detroit.

  6. Graham James reportedly facing new charge of sexual assault

    May 25, 2015, 4:41 PM EDT

    Graham James AP

    Reports out of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

  7. In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’

    May 25, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    Antoine Vermette, Frederik Andersen AP

    “One bounce here or there, it’s a different story.”

  8. Leafs sign Carrick to one-year extension

    May 25, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    J.T. Brown; Sam Carrick J.T. Brown; Sam Carrick

    Made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 16 games.

  9. Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract

    May 25, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Five Getty Images

    He’s eligible to sign an extension this summer.

  10. Swiss league ‘perfect training ground’ for Matthews, says coach Crawford

    May 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    Marc Crawford Getty Images

    “Everyone involved with the ZSC Lions is so excited about seeing him play in Zurich.”

  11. Canucks have a puzzle to solve on the blue line

    May 25, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT

    Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

    This won’t quell the Kevin Bieksa trade speculation.

  12. Bolts ‘looking for a guy who plays my way,’ says prospect Erne

    May 25, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT

    Adam Erne Getty Images

    “A bigger guy, playing a power forward role.”

Featured video

Babcock has his work cut out in Toronto
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. F. Andersen (1612)
  2. S. Crosby (1547)
  3. N. Horton (1492)
  4. M. Carle (1477)
  5. R. Nash (1458)