With hockey from noon til almost 10 pm, it’s a nice reminder of why the first round of the NHL Playoffs is the best round. There’s a ton of action, so let’s get cracking, shall we?
WASHINGTON CAPITALS VS CAROLINA HURRICANES- 3:00PM EDT/12:00PM PDT (Washington leads 1-0)
Game 1 saw the Caps open up what looked like a comfortable lead before the Hurricanes stormed back in the final frame, and Washington managed an ENG to keep it out of reach. It showed they need to not let the foot off the gas against the Jerk Squad, without a doubt. It also showed that Carolina needs to be careful about taking penalties, as the Caps PP is looking good. Another thing that will help Carolina? Continuing to play physical. The Caps are a deceptively physical squad, but Carolina went toe to toe with them and didn’t back down. It can also be a good way to get guys like Tom Wilson taking dumb penalties, and getting their PP more chances should be a priority. Sebastian Aho needs to step up after being almost invisible in Game 1 or they’re gonna head back to Raleigh down 2-0.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS VS DALLAS STARS- 6:00PM EDT/3:00PM PDT (Dallas leads 1-0)
After dominating the first period of Game 1, the Preds shut it down the rest of the way and that allowed Dallas to score twice in the 3rd and steal home ice advantage in Game 1. The Preds need to come out with a complete 60 minute game tonight, and a better night from their PP (0-4 in Game 1) is a must. Dallas is going to need another big game from Ben Bishop again tonight, as well as captain Jamie Benn. He’s just above a point per game player in the post season, and when he’s on top of his game he can totally take it over. Nashville’s strength is their transition game and some of the best offensive defencemen in the league. They got goals from Roman Josi and PK Subban in Game 1, but need a better game from their bottom 6 and their D to play actual defence if they hope to tie this series up.
BOSTON BRUINS VS TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS- 8:00PM EDT/5:00PM PDT (Toronto leads 1-0)
The Bruins weren’t bad in Game 1 Thursday night, but they weren’t exactly good, either. It really showed how when Toronto utilizes their speed there aren’t many teams that can stop them, and the Bruins are going to have to figure out how to slow them down without taking a ton of penalties. It seemed like they were also looking for amazing plays all night, and that played right into Toronto’s hands, and even cost them a goal (the William Nylander breakaway goal). They’re also going to need to figure out Frederik Andersen. While it doesn’t look like the Bruins will make any lineup changes, they may shuffle lines a bit. Jake De Brusk left in Game 1 and didn’t return. He didn’t play yesterday but skated this morning so we’ll see if he’s good to go.
As far as the Leafs, the key is to keep doing what they’re doing. They kept their cool, made smart decisions and capitalized off Bruins mistakes. They’re also playing like there’s no pressure on them, and after an impressive Game 1 victory it’s taken some of it off and placed it squarely on the Bruins, favored by many to win this series. No changes lineup-wise expected from the Leafs tonight.
CALGARY FLAMES VS COLORADO AVALANCHE- 10:30PM EDT/7:30PM PDT (Calgary leads 1-0)
Game 1 of this series was a pretty flawless example of what the Flames are capable of, so you shouldn’t expect anything different from them tonight. As far as the Avs, they need to get two key guys off their games, so look for them to try and get under the skins of Mike Smith and Matthew Tkachuk. Smith gets rattled if you breathe on him, but Tkachuk is a different beast all together. Trying to shake him can backfire easily, and he’s one of the NHL’s best at drawing penalties. The Flames roll with a balanced attack, where as Colorado is very much a one line team. The bit players in the Avs lineup are going to need to make bigger contributions or this series is gonna be done in a hurry. They will likely go with Phillip Grubauer again in Game 2, and he’s gonna need to steal one if they hope to head to Denver for Game 3 tied at 1 a piece.
Finally, in a shocker today, Finland defeated Canada 4-2 in the Women’s World Championships Semi Finals. The host Finns will face the winner of the USA/Russia match, while the loser meets Canada for bronze. This is great for the women’s game, truly. You do have a feeling there’s gonna be some major fallout with Hockey Canada following this, which is also a good thing. Stagnation and refusal to accept change kills the development of our national programs (look at the lack of success for the U20’s over the last few years, for example).
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
A little Swedish speed for you today, from their 2000 album ‘Deathrace King’ it’s ‘I Won’t Follow’ by THE CROWN.