We have two big games tonight and – barring an overtime in the Penguins-Canadiens Game 7 that would surely give me a heart attack – hockey fans should be able to watch all of one and a chunk of the other. Let’s take a look at the two big games, starting with the penultimate Pens game.
Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins – 7:00 PM ET (Versus, CBC, FS Pittsburgh)
Series tied 3-3
Hal Gill certainly has come a long way since the days when he was referred to as “a pylon.” At least in the playoffs. Gill is expected to play tonight, which will make this high-pressure tilt even more difficult for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens go a stunning 5-0 in elimination games this playoffs or will the Penguins’ sizable attack zone and depth advantages finally catch up to the scrappy Habs? It should be an intriguing contest, for sure. It seems unfair to put too much pressure on Sidney Crosby, but he must feel eager to add another bullet point in his favor against his media appointed rival Alex Ovechkin.
Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers – 8:00 PM ET (Versus joined in progress, NESN, CSN Philadelphia)
Bruins lead series 3-2
One must wonder if the Flyers might attract some peripheral New York Yankees fans if they keep it up. As you may remember, the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit before scorching their way to a long awaited World Series title. Could the Flyers help fans of that area get a sniff of revenge? It’s not quite the same situation, though, because the Bruins are bruised and battered. Really, each team is holding on for dear life. Could we see another Game 7 in the East or will the Bruins finally close out those pesky Flyers?
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.