Here are the playoff morning papers for Thursday the 16th of April:
San Jose Sharks (1) versus Anaheim Ducks (8)
- Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says this is the season the Sharks must exorcise past demons. People will be looking to see how Joe Thornton performs this post-season. These teams just plain do not like each other. Anaheim is going to try to stay out of the box, so they can avoid the Sharks’ top power play.
- Anaheim has nothing to lose this spring, with all the pressure squarely on the Sharks’ backs. Here are the Ducks’ line combinations for tonight’s tilt. Playing on the second line, Andrew Ebbett has proven many critics wrong.
Detroit Red Wings (2) versus Columbus Blue Jackets (7)
- Mitch Albom takes a look inside Pavel Datsyuk’s life in this morning’s Detroit Free Press (Writer’s note: Great article.) Michael Rosenberg takes a look at the numbers and wonders if some upsets are ones we should see coming? The guys inside the Red Wings dressing room want to get Marian Hossa a Stanley Cup ring. Dan Cleary will be in the lineup tonight for Detroit. Tomas Holmstrom is due for some goals.
- Aaron Portzline of Columbus Dispatch breaks down the key matchups for the series. Steve Mason has to be the difference for the Blue Jackets. It is not like rookie goalies have not had playoff success before, writes Bill Rabinowitz. Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda are sure to have their hands full for this entire series. Here are the Blue Jackets’ probable lines for tonight’s game.
Vancouver Canucks (3) versus St. Louis Blues (6)
- Alain Vigenault was puzzled by the officiating during last night’s game. Roberto Luongo was sharp for Vancouver, setting the tone for the series. However, it did take the Canucks a little bit of time to shake the nerves. The Blues were mad at themselves for not capitalizing on the power play.
- The Blues may have lost yesterday in Game 1, but they did not look like the underdogs in the series, writes Jeremy Rutherford. The Blues may be feeling good, but history is not on their side. Here are reader comments on the game from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website.
Chicago Blackhawks (4) versus Calgary Flames (5)
- The Blackhawks do have a young core, but there are veterans on the team with Stanley Cup experience. Patrick Sharp is not sure if he will dress tonight for the Hawks. How will the Chicago players deal with the Flames’ physicality?
- Miikka Kiprusoff will have to be the difference-maker for Calgary to win this series, writes Steve MacFarlane. Along with Kiprusoff, playing a physical-style will be extremely important. Eric Francis has his concerns about the Flames. The fact that the Hawks are young and naive, may be a benefit to them, writes George Johnson. Which Olli Jokinen will show up in this series?
Boston Bruins (1) versus Montreal Canadiens (8)
- Things are a lot better for Patrice Bergeron this season than they were last season. Mark Recchi has been a terrific addition to the Bruins roster. A coaching decision by Claude Julien is looking like it has turned out pretty well. Here are the five keys to the series. Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald calls this series the most important for Boston in the past decade.
- The legendary Red Fisher does not give the Habs much of a chance in this series. If Montreal is going to pull off the upset, Alexei Kovalev will be the key, according to Dave Stubbs. Saku Koivu is fully healthy to start this series which is different than last season when he wearing a walking cast. The Habs start the playoffs tonight, but off the ice, the bidders are quite prominent when it comes to the sale of the franchise.
Washington Capitals (2) versus New York Rangers (7)
- The Capitals won the statistical battle yesterday at the Verizon Center, but lost the game. Jose Theodore took the blame for the loss. Washington’s defense wasn’t without blame either. Bruce Boudreau would not say which goalie he is going to start for Game 2. At least Chris Clark is close to returning to the Capitals lineup.
- Without Chris Drury, the Rangers went into Washington and know they were a little lucky to steal Game 1. Coach Tortorella expects Chris Drury to be back for Game 2. Henrik Lundqvist was leaps and bounds ahead of Jose Theodore in terms of performance on Wednesday night. Marc Staal and Daniel Girardi can expect a steady diet of Alexander Ovechkin for the remainder of the series.
New Jersey Devils (3) versus Carolina Hurricanes (6)
- The Devils were a force to be reckon with on Wednesday night, writes Mark Everson. When in doubt revert back to defensive ways. Speaking of defense, John Madden’s line shutdown Eric Staal and company. Brian Rolston is using the playoffs as a way to put his poor regular season behind him.
- Last night’s game could not have been much worse for the Hurricanes. Here is a rundown of the happenings of Game 1.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) versus Philadelphia Flyers (5)
- Pittsburgh got off to a good start and Philadelphia just never seemed to get going, writes Dave Molinari. The Flyers just took too many penalties. If you think only young players get nervous for the playoff, you are mistaken. The Penguins played a simple game and it worked to their advantage. In John Stevens and Dan Byslma, you have two coaches with two different philosophies.
- Mike Richards says his team needs to stop take stupid penalties. Don’t lay the blame squarely on Martin Biron’s shoulders for Wednesday’s loss. The Flyers need to get more production from their depth forwards than Pittsburgh does.