Watching the Chicago Blackhawks agitate the Vancouver Canucks all the
way to a series win the San Jose Sharks are certain to have taken
detailed notes on just what exactly went wrong for Vancouver. The
Sharks, fresh off of getting that elusive playoff monkey off their
backs, now have the pressure on them to continue their run. The
Blackhawks will be a much different test for the Sharks than the
Avalanche or Red Wings, especially with the confidence they’re riding
after some big wins in Vancouver.
At the top of the list of the concerns for the Sharks will be the top
line of Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who wreaked
havoc for the Blackhawks by getting under the skin of Roberto Luongo and
the Canucks defense. The Sharks are far from the emotional team that
the Canucks became, but it’s not just the agitation they’ll have to
worry about. Toews and Kane were dominant offensively in the second
round, and that is what has to worry the Sharks the most.
David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury-News:
“He just works hard every shift,” Thornton said of Toews,
the leading scorer in the postseason with 20 points. “He’s very skilled
and is really turning into a complete player. Whoever’s line goes
against him is going to have a real challenge.”
“He’s a big man
who really started to make an impact in the series later on,” McLellan
said of Byfuglien. “We’ll have a plan for him and figure out how to deal
Toews became a force to be reckoned with, but you have to wonder if
the emotional aspect of the series against Vancouver is what drove the
Blackhawks more than anything else. The Sharks and Hawks don’t have much
of a history against each other and the Sharks have yet to face Antti
Niemi this season.
Just like with any Conference finals, there’s
going to be emotions flying but I doubt we’ll see anything close to what
we witnessed in the second round.
The low penalty minutes and high point totals are in, and thus we have the 2016 NHL Awards’ three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy: Aleksander Barkov, Loui Eriksson and Anze Kopitar.
OK, the actual definition for the award is that it goes “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
Same difference, eh?
Barkov really made a breakthrough this season with the Florida Panthers, scoring 59 points versus just eight penalty minutes. He only has 34 PIM in 191 career regular season contests.
You can see Eriksson and Kopitar representing their respective countries in this post’s main image. Eriksson enjoyed his best (and maybe last?) season with the Boston Bruins while Kopitar hopes to win the 2016 Selke as the Los Angeles Kings’ defensively adept – yet apparently courteous – forward.
It’s unclear who wins this “fight,” but one would assume it wouldn’t be a dirty one.
The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.
NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)
The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Some reading to get you pumped up:
– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).
– Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.
– T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.
– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).
– Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.
The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.
Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.
Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.
Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.
As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.
Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.
For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.
The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”
Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.
The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.
“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.