Eastern Conference Game 6 Previews
In the 1-8 matchup, goaltending has been a hot topic between both teams. Jose Theodore started in net for the Capitals but was replaced in Game 2 after allowing 2 goals on the first 2 shots he faced. Replacing Theodore was last season's surprise rookie goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov gave some stability to a wavering Capitals defense, which won the game 6-5 in overtime. He has remained in net up to this point in the series. For Montreal, Jaroslav Halak earned his way to becoming the starting goalie over a one-time phenom in Carey Price. Halak, Slovakia's goalie in the Winter Olympics, helped the Habs to a 1-0 series lead, but he too was sub-par in Game 2. Heading back to Montreal, rumors ran rampant about which goalie would start Game 3. Halak started, but the Canadiens lost. Game 4 saw Price take to the net, but again Montreal lost. Hoping the one game benching would get Halak's attention, head coach Jacques Martin put the Slovak back in net for Game 5. Halak stymied the high flying Caps, forcing a Game 6. Both teams are sure to be ready for this crucial game. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Cammalleri have led their respective teams in scoring and hope for some playoff heroics to either lead their team to round 2 or force a Game 7.
Northeast Division rivals Buffalo and Boston, the 3-6 matchup, have made for one heck of a series. Goalies Ryan Miller (Buffalo) and Tuukka Rask (Boston), who finished either at the top or among the leaders in almost every significant goaltending category, have stolen the show in the series. Rask, a rookie, has been especially good. I would have said surprising here, but his teammates totally expected the young Finnish star to be calm, cool, and collected. Everyone who followed the Olympics knows about Ryan Miller. In a silver medal effort, Miller earned the tournament MVP. As for offense, these two teams somewhat struggled to come by a lot of it in the regular season. Boston finished dead last in the NHL in goals scored. Unfortunately for Buffalo, leading scorer Thomas Vanek was lost in Game 2 after crashing into the boards following a legal defense play by Bruins' defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Vanek's status is uncertain for Game 6. Possibly the best game of the playoffs (before Pittsburgh and Ottawa's triple OT game) came last Wednesday in Boston where former Sabre Miroslav Satan scored the game-winning power play goal in the second overtime. Leading centerman Patrice Bergeron and Derek Roy hope to spark their team to victory, and in Bergeron's case, a series ending victory.
Both series have been fantastic so far, and these two Game 6's should be no different.