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.
Aug 31, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Who will take advantage of the opening?
Aug 31, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
The two have previously played together on the Czech national team.
Aug 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Former coach Jeff Daniels is also staying within the organization after being relieved of his AHL coaching duties.
Aug 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Looking to score an AHL deal.
Aug 31, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT
You can expect this question to be asked throughout the year.
Aug 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Heck, the ‘Hawks are still over the salary cap ceiling.
Aug 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Chicago’s star forward remains under police investigation.
Aug 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Can his KHL success translate to North America?
Aug 31, 2015, 10:04 AM EDT
Plenty of changes in the Windy City.
Aug 31, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The defending Stanley Cup champs dealt away key pieces in the offseason.
Aug 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
The 36-year-old is still looking for a contract after being bought out by the Wild.
Aug 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The Wild ranked 27th overall last season with the man advantage.
Aug 30, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Granlund scored just eight goals last season while playing between Pominville and Parise.
Aug 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
He’s hoping to crack the Wild’s opening night roster after three seasons at the University of Minnesota.
Aug 30, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
He’ll have to prove last season was not a fluke.
Aug 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Both blue liners are unrestricted free agents.
Aug 30, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Can they take a step forward this season?
Aug 30, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Starring Devan Dubnyk.
Aug 29, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
He’s currently an unrestricted free agent.
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