May 2, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT
There’s no rest for the weary in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Two of the four teams playing tonight got their pass to the second round on Wednesday night after Game 7 wins. The New York Rangers slipped past the Philadelphia Flyers and are rewarded with a trip to the other side of Pennsylvania to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Out West, the Minnesota Wild needed overtime to dispose of the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 and now they head east for a date with the Chicago Blackhawks for the second consecutive season. This time around it’s in a later round of the playoffs and, oh yeah, they may not have their top goalie of the postseason. No one said the playoffs were easy.
Game 1: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
The Penguins getting by the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games ended up working out just fine for the team to get a little bit of rest heading into the second round. With the added time off, it gives Marc-Andre Fleury an opportunity to reset himself after a series that was a bit more exciting than he’d like.
While the schedule for this series is a bit unkind, the Penguins have to be wary of the team that’s still rolling in game mode. It might seem like the Rangers are coming in tired, but the way this schedule works out it’s no different than how tight the regular season schedule was.
Each team is 2-1-1 against the other this season and there’s pressure on guys on both sides.
For the Rangers it’s on Rick Nash to pick things up. Nash had no goals and four assists against the Flyers and getting him to pot a goal in this series would get a big monkey off his back. In 23 career playoff games he has just two goals.
You could say there’s pressure on Sidney Crosby to score, but with how he’s played in the postseason it’s just a matter of time. The focus, instead, is on Fleury. There’s always pressure on goalies in the postseason, but with him it’s at a higher level. That may not be fair, but it’s just how it is.
Game 1: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
Perhaps the most curious stat between these two teams this season is the head-to-head record. Minnesota went 3-1-1 against Chicago this season and despite the difference in record, the final three games they played were one-goal games.
Of course in the playoffs you can throw out what happened in the regular season as situations have changed. The Wild may be down three goalies as this round starts as Darcy Kuemper left Game 7 against Colorado with an injury. They’re already without Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding and that puts Ilya Bryzgalov firmly in the spotlight if Kuemper can’t go.
Facing a Blackhawks team that found their mojo beating the St. Louis Blues in six games with your No. 4 goalie doesn’t sound like a plan for success. Chicago got great performances from all their top players. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Marian Hossa were all at their best against the Blues and if that continues into this round, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin will have their hands full.
The pressure of containing all those guys shifts to the forwards as well meaning Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise‘s ability to defend will be tested. The Wild will need to see more out of Jason Pominville and hope rookies Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle continue to do what they showed against the Avalanche.
Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
3rd-round pick if it happens after the season, 2nd-rounder if it happens in-season.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
University of Minnesota blueliner inching closer to free agency.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT
So the Hart will not, as some have suggested, become the Gretzky.
Mar 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
Blackhawks duo “had a good thing going.”
Mar 31, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
Not just a team that scores a lot of goals.
Mar 31, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Could really use a win tonight versus the Rangers.
Mar 31, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
“I can speak from experience that home ice matters.”
Mar 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 31, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Florida’s season is essentially on the line.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt, not pulling any punches.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
He was Florida’s first-round pick (23rd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT
This after his team, Rogle, terminated his contract on Monday.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT
Gave up four goals on 11 shots Sunday versus the Islanders.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:56 AM EDT
Just 2-for-33 over the last 15 games.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Just one win in their last six.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT
6-foot-5, 225-pounder led Charlottetown in penalty minutes this year, with 124.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT
He finished tied for third in the country in assists last season.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
Los Angeles traded a first-round pick in February to get him.
Mar 31, 2015, 8:52 AM EDT
Could that really be the case this time?
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- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12
- Video: Brian Engblom takes a puck to the head 13