PHT Predicts: Bruins vs. Canadiens — Who do you have?

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There’s not much that could be said to help hype this series up more. These two have fought each other like crazy both on the scoreboard and on the ice. We’re pretty sure the cops won’t be called to take care of Zdeno Chara when the series shifts to Montreal for games three and four, but if things don’t go well in Boston for the Habs you never know.

With all the side show stuff, these two teams are made to beat on each other. With Chara along with Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi to go up against last year’s playoff hero Mike Cammalleri as well as Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, and paragon of controversy P.K. Subban there’s plenty to watch for here. And that’s not even getting into the stellar goaltending match-up between Tim Thomas and Carey Price.

As for how we’re looking at this series, opinions are still fun.

James says:
Guess which team lead the East in goal differential? That would be the Bruins, who tower over the rest of the conference with a +51 mark. It’s tough for me to picture the Habs managing much of a fight in this series, but the fantastic crowd in Montreal will power them to a win. The vitriol in the air might make this an interesting span of games, but I think Boston is much, much better.

(Then again, I thought the Capitals were eons ahead of the Canadiens in 2010, so you just never know.)

Bruins win 4-1 with Zdeno Chara feeding off the boos and embracing a role as the reluctant villain.

Matt says:
The over/under on the use of the term “stanchion” is tentatively set at 147 for Game 1. For all of the drama and intrigue these two teams have had this season, the playoffs will be something different completely. Here’s the thing, if you look at the teams on paper this should be a total mismatch. The Bruins have better forwards, a better defense corps, better goaltending, and home-ice advantage.

But for all of that being said, the Habs won the season series 4-2 and the only way the Bruins could win a game is if they scored at least a touchdown. This just has the feeling of a series that will go deep and will have plenty of hate to go along with it. In the end, the Bruins just have too much for the Habs to overcome. Bruins in 7.

Joe says:
For all the bombast and bluster that happened in the teams’ last few meetings, you’d think that the season series was a runaway for Boston. It wasn’t and while that might factor into some predictions on how this will go, the chess match that will happen between coaches Claude Julien and Jacques Martin breaks down to which guy has made the better decisions and in that battle I like Julien.

Unless Carey Price can channel his inner Jaroslav Halak, I don’t like this match-up for Montreal. Boston is built like a grimy, do-the-dirty-work playoff team and with all the drama surrounding these two teams, the Bruins are motivated. Bruins take this one in 6.

Think we’re waving our American flags too much in our predictions on this series? Feel free to tell us in the poll what you think of our take. Feel free to leave a fun comment in French for us to crudely translate as well if you’re feeling the need.

Andrew Hammond to start Game 5 for Avalanche

AP
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When the Colorado Avalanche hit the ice in Nashville on Friday night they will be facing elimination. They will also need to rely on their third-string goalie to help get them a win if they are going to extend their season.

The team announced on Thursday that Andrew Hammond will be getting the start, replacing Jonathan Bernier who had to leave Wednesday’s game after two periods with a lower body injury. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Bernier’s injury has been a nagging one and that he could still be available off the bench on Friday if needed.

The Avalanche had been starting Bernier because their regular starter, Semyon Varlamov, is out for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury of his own.

Obviously, this puts the Avalanche in a pretty tough spot. Not only because they have to go on the road against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Predators, but also because they have to turn to a goalie that, including Wednesday’s brief relief appearance, has appeared in just eight NHL games over the past two years. He has faced only 127 shots in those appearances and managed only an .874 save percentage.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

 Hammond’s career has been a fascinating one to this point.

Late in the 2014-15 season he came out of nowhere as a 25-year-old rookie to lead the Ottawa Senators on an improbable late season run (where Hammond put together a 20-1-2 record) to qualify for the playoffs. Nicknamed “the Hamburglar,” his initial run in Ottawa was highlighted by fans throwing hamburgers on the ice to celebrate his wins.  That run earned him a contract extension with the Senators and a bunch of free hamburgers from McDonalds. It was a crazy year.

After that, though, injuries and a decline in his production have limited him to just a handful of appearances in the NHL.

The Avalanche acquired him from the Senators earlier this season as part of the Matt Duchene trade.

Now he has to jump into the crease in an elimination game.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators’ Ryan Hartman to have hearing after illegal check to the head

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Ryan Hartman had a tough night at the office on Wednesday night and will have to answer to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety because of it.

Hartman’s hearing stems from a charging penalty he was assessed after lining up Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg‘s head with his shoulder at the 4:42 mark of the third period.

Soderberg was forced to leave the game after the play.

Earlier in the game, Hartman tried to line up Sven Andrighetto from a mile out in the second period but missed, prompting the latter to come and give Hartman some business, which included a stick below the belt to Hartman.

The Predators took Game 4 by a 3-2 margin, holding off a third-period comeback attempt from the Avalanche to take a 3-1 series lead.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seinfeld’s Puddy attends Devils game to ‘support the team’

NJ Devils on Twitter
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The man known affectionately as Puddy (aka actor Patrick Warburton) was in New Jersey last night trying to rile up the Devils prior to Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You’ll remember Puddy, the face-painted Devils fan from the hit TV show Seinfeld, for such lines as, ‘We’re the Devils… The Devils’ and ‘Don’t mess with the Devils. We can beat anybody.’

That’s pretty much it, but he didn’t need to say much else to become an instant cult classic among Devils fans.

Warburton resurrected the character on Wednesdat night, doing his best to get the Devils and their fans amped up prior to the game.

Unfortunately for New Jersey, the tactic didn’t pay off as the Lightning took a 3-1 series lead on the back of a 3-1 win.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Ducks wake-up call; Crosby passes Lemieux

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.
• For Ducks, getting swept should be a wake-up call (Los Angeles Times)

• Takeaways: an unlikely hero emerges as Sharks sweep Ducks (San Jose Mercury News)

Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux for Penguins’ playoff points lead (USA Today)

• The Penguins are still too much for the Flyers (SB Nation)

• Hey, Saint Patrick. It’s a sin you missed how Avs refused to quit in 3-2 loss against Nashville. (Denver Post)

• In defying odds, Golden Knights’ success is not so good for sports books (USA Today)

Marc-Andre Fleury‘s ex-teammates with Penguins happy for his success in playoffs (NHL.com)

• Bodog: Golden Knights are Cup favourites (TSN.ca)

• Foligno brothers savouring first simultaneous NHL post-season (Toronto Star)

Blake Wheeler‘s path to being an elite player in the NHL took a winding road (Winnipeg Sun)

• How a financial advisor became the NHL’s only active black official (Sportsnet)

• Bill Peters has the inside track in Calgary, but there’s a lot of local blood to consider (The Hockey News)

• Von Miller just discovered hockey and he is WAY into it (The Loop)

• Humboldt Broncos tribute concert aims to bring in NHL players, alumni (Sportsnet)

• Town puts ‘giant hockey stick on our porch’ in Humboldt tribute (CBC)

• The case for each Vezina Trophy finalist — and a few snubs (The Hockey News)

• Why the Stanley Cup gets names removed every 13 years (Sportsnet)

• Up top, watch how the Penguins are coming alive in the postseason and the energy being displayed by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should be worrying their opponents.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck