2nd Round Playoff Matchups
Boston Bruins (1) versus Carolina Hurricanes (6)
- The Bruins were outplayed last night, plain and simple, writes Fluto Shinzawa. Bob Ryan worries that the Bruins lost and didn’t even test Cam Ward at all. Ryan is certainly a believer in Ward’s ability. “Probably one of our worst games in I don’t know how long,” said coach Claude Julien. In injury news, Andrew Ference left last night’s contest.
- Jussi Jokinen has become the new star in Carolina, writes Chip Alexander. Oddly enough, series opponents Mark Recchi and the aformentioned Jokinen were teammates this season in Tampa Bay. We can talk about Jokinen all we want, but the Hurricanes’ best player last night was Eric Staal.
Washington Capitals (2) versus Pittsburgh Penguins (4)
- The Capitals were outshot, took too many penalties and ended up losing in overtime, writes Tarik El-Bashir. Playing much of the game short-handed hurt any momentum Washington could generate. The Capitals did not deserve to win last night, writes Mike Wise. “We didn’t play our game tonight. We got a lucky goal to score first, and after that … we stopped playing,” said Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin. In encouraging news, Nicklas Backstrom scored his first goal of the playoffs on Wednesday.
- “He was at a different level,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma about the breakout performance of Evgeni Malkin last night. “I know I played not good the last two games,” said Malkin post-game. Chris Kunitz was happy he was not suspended by the NHL. Max Talbot was all over the ice, helping the Penguins in a big way. The Penguins made a concerted effort to slow down Ovechkin last night. Yesterday Pittsburgh was successful because they didn’t allow Washington to generate offense off the rush.
Detroit Red Wings (2) versus Anaheim Ducks (8)
- The Wings lineup will remain the same tonight, as Brian Rafalski is not yet ready to return. Forget the blown call in Game 3, the Wings have put themselves in this position, opines Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit needs to play desperate tonight. Shawn Windsor has a great profile on classy Wings GM Ken Holland.
- As a veteran team, the Ducks have certainly not gotten ahead of themselves even though they are up 2-1, explains Dan Wood. Grinders help in the playoffs, but you still need some goal scorers. While there is no word on when he’ll return, James Wisniewski was released from the hospital on Wednesday. Without Wisniewski on defense tonight, the Ducks defensemen will all have to step it up.
Vancouver Canucks (3) versus Chicago Blackhawks (4)
- It appears Sami Salo’s status for Game 4 is doubtful. Speaking of injuries, Vancouver will be without Pavol Demitra tonight. Now that he is healthy, Rick Rypien is fitting in just great with the Canucks. If you ask them, the Canucks really do not mind the pressure of being Canada’s team. Do not expect the Canucks to change their style in Game 4 just because they cannot go home with anything worse than a split.
- “I don’t think there’s any sense of panic. We’ve learned that momentum doesn’t necessarily carry over as much in the playoffs as in the regular season,” said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp. Meantime, Colin Fraser played almost every regular season game for the Hawks, yet he’s hardly played in the playoffs. Tim Sassone suggests the Blackhawks simplify their game.
Teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs:
- While the season started off in a disappointing fashion, Claude Giroux made himself a force to close the season and has given Flyers fans much to look forward to next season. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Simon Gagne became aggravated enough with his contacts during games that he underwent laser eye surgery.
Teams that did not make the playoffs:
- There is talk that Craig Billington may be a favorite for the Avalanche GM opening.
- The Florida Panthers have fired Denis Potvin as the team’s television color commentator. Bill Lindsay will replace Potvin.
- There appears to be some controversy over the Wild’s desire to have a practice rink built.
- Could Vincent Lecavalier be on the move from Tampa?
The Coyotes situation:
- If the Coyotes move, Wayne Gretzky won’t be going with them.
- Garth Woolsey profiles Jim Balsillie for the Toronto Star.
- Damien Cox thinks Phoenix can still be a viable franchise.
- Jerry Moyes’s agent says the NHL is mistaken if they believe they have a valid case.
- Here are more details on the legal battle from the Arizona Republic.
- Dan Bickley says you cannot blame the fans of Arizona for the Coyotes’ lack of success.
- “Maybe this is a wake-up call to the league that they just can’t support franchises that are not viable,” an investment analyst told the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran.
- “That city is an unbelievable hockey city and I think the people really deserve a team there,” said Teemu Selanne about Winnipeg.
- Alan Maki thinks Gary Bettman’s job status could be determined by the results of the Balsillie case.
- Balsillie could not purchase and move the team without approval from the NHL’s Board of Directors.