Three teams can be eliminated today - Playoff hockey at its best
Today all three games are in the same position. Three teams can knock out their competitors and head to Round 2. All three series have been exciting, some have been downright jaw dropping.
First up, the Pittsburgh Penguins aim to even the series with the Philadelphia Flyers. They were on the verge of a sweep by the Flyers, being down 3-0 in the series just two games ago, but have come back with a vengeance and now only need one more win to send the series to a game seven decision. Of course, there are just as many Pens detractors as there are fans, if not more. The same could be said for the Flyers.
The Penguins claim they've gotten into the heads of the Flyer players and perhaps they have. The actions of Claude Giroux after the last game seem to indicate so. Both teams will be playing with the same players as in the last game, and while Marc-Andre Fleury seems to have found his stride in net, Flyers' goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has let in a couple of shots deemed stoppable.
If the Flyers want to move on to Round 2, they will need to play like it today, of all days.
No doubt this will be a close fought intense game. It is being aired in both the US and Canada, on NBC and TSN respectively, starting in a few minutes.
Game two features two teams who played yesterday. These two teams have rallied back and forth and have played evenly with no team seeming to be dominant. However, it has been the defending Stanley Cup Champions who have always had the lead in the series, until yesterday. Today they could be eliminated. Washington wants to do everything they can to make that happen, while Boston is desperate for it not to happen. Tim thomas, who has been stellar in goal for the Bruins, has shown some cracks. Capitals players are hot right now. They want this. Watch for Alexander Semin to come out blazing. He has three goals so far in the series and wants more. It shows in his face. The Capitals really want this series and want to move on.
Again, neither team has new injuries, so will be playing with the same players as yesterday. The fact that they are playing another game only one day after the last may be a factor, but shouldn't be. Teams play back to back to back games all through the regular season, although the case may be made that they play with a greater intensity in the playoffs.
NBC in the US and CBC in Canada will air this game, starting at 3:00 pm ET
The final game today is the one closest to home for me. I am not a Canucks fan, yet the team is from my home province. Co-workers and friends alike have been a little quieter this year than they were last year, given the 3-0 lead the Kings were able to put on the series. All that changed in game 4 with the return of the ginger twin, Daniel Sedin. Suddenly the Canucks fans I work with are as obnoxious and arrogant as ever, and boasting about how unstoppable the Sedin twins are. Unfortunately, the combination of Daniel and Henrik Sedin might just be a problem. The two seem to know what the other is thinking and when Henrik passes, Daniel just seems to be there. It works in reverse as well. It has always been said that twins have a special bond, but it pains me to see it in effect in hockey.
This will undoubtedly be a goaltenders game. Luongo wasn't as successful in goal against the Kings, allowing four goals in each game he played. However, Cory Schneider has been strong, stopping all but two shots in his two games in the goal, the best in the league. Jonathan Quick is second to Schneider only in save percentage. The two are proving to be the mold for which a goaltender should be formed. Undoubtedly, this will be the one game everyone will tune in to watch, at least in Canada. It airs on CBC and the NBC Sports Network at 8:00 pm ET.
The puck is about to drop in Philadelphia, so get comfortable for a long day of hockey and join in the fun.