With four Game 2’s on tap tonight, there are four teams that can do something about the instant hole they’re in. Some of them could also find themselves heading back home down 0-2 if they’re not careful. Here’s what’s on tap tonight across the NHL playoff landscape. All times are Eastern.
Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh – 7 p.m. – Pittsburgh leads series 1-0
Tampa Bay got the sort of lackluster effort that any team in the playoffs would like to avoid. After going through two scoreless periods, the Penguins jumped out in the third and put the Lightning down. The Lightning need a lot more physicality tonight. Brooks Orpik welcomed Steve Stamkos to the playoffs rudely on his first shift and the hitting didn’t stop all game long. Tampa Bay could stand to fire back with some big shots of their own and get snapped into a higher gear. Of all the Game 1’s played, Tampa-Pittsburgh had the most reserved pace to it. Tampa might benefit from pressing a bit more.
NY Rangers @ Washington – 7:30 p.m. (Versus) – Washington leads series 1-0
The Rangers will change things up a little bit tonight as Mats Zuccarello will sit while Sean Avery and his special brand of annoyance and aggression will play tonight. Avery against Washington should help keep the Rangers on their toes and the Caps with their heads on a swivel. They might benefit the most from a set of earplugs though so Avery’s verbal barbs won’t make them do something foolish. Avery’s ability to get players to take bad penalities rivals Avery’s ability to take some of his own. In the playoffs, however, he’s been a very effective player and that’s something the Caps can remember from the 2009 playoffs. The Caps will be hoping that Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin can continue to be the offensive studs, just that they they could do it a bit sooner than the final minutes of the third and overtime.
Chicago @ Vancouver – 10 p.m. (Versus) – Vancouver leads series 1-0
If Chicago’s going to give Vancouver nightmares in the playoffs, sending the series back to Chicago tied would be the right way to do it. If the Blackhawks allow the Canucks to come out flying and seize the game right away, fighting an uphill battle against the league’s best team is a losing proposition. While Vancouver got great goaltending from Roberto Luongo in his 2-0 shutout in Game 1, there were a lot of post hits as well. Good luck is part of the battle, but if some of those shots start missing posts and hit the back of the net, Vancouver’s got a fight on their hands.
Nashville @ Anaheim – 10:30 p.m. – Nashville leads series 1-0
While goaltending was only part of the problem for the Ducks in Game 1, they might be testing out Ray Emery to be the starter tonight. Emery will be hoping his defense does a better job of withstanding the Predators pressure on both sides of the puck than they did on Wednesday losing 4-1. For Nashville they’ll want to do more of the same and if Mike Fisher continues to be a ridiculous sniper, the Ducks are looking at a world of hurt potentially heading to Nashville down 0-2. The Ducks will need more of that snarl and much better play from their best players tonight. If not, the Ducks may be looking at a very quick exit.
The Buffalo Sabres will be down a defenseman for the remainder of Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Jake McCabe has left the game due to a shoulder injury suffered during the first period and will not return, the club stated during the second period.
Signed to a three-year, $4.8 million contract extension last summer, the 23-year-old McCabe has one goal and 10 points in 44 games this season for Buffalo
More recently, McCabe drew the immediate ire of the Winnipeg Jets after he delivered an open-ice hit on rookie Patrik Laine, who suffered a concussion on the play.
Darren Helm is back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup Friday, after missing the last two months with a shoulder injury.
Helm last played on Nov. 15, and was initially expected to miss at least six weeks with a dislocated shoulder. According to reports, he’ll make his return to game action against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Red Wings are searching for a fourth consecutive win, as they look to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race.
“He’s ultra-fast, he’s ultra-competitive,” said coach Jeff Blashill, per MLive.com. “I thought he had an excellent start to the year. It was obviously unfortunate he got hurt, but we all deal with it. The good thing with him is he’s such a skater and such a competitor that when he gets back into the lineup after a long layoff I expect him to be pretty good.”
In 17 games this season before his injury, Helm had four goals and seven points.
There was a positive development for the Winnipeg Jets and their rookie scorer Patrik Laine on Friday.
Per reports, Laine was back skating with his teammates during Friday’s practice, albeit while wearing a yellow non-contact jersey, marking another step in his return from a concussion suffered on an open-ice hit from Jake McCabe on Jan. 7.
“It doesn’t matter how long you’re out of the games. I’m still young, and I have a lot of games ahead of me. I don’t have to rush anything,” said Laine, per NHL.com. “It’s easier to work out now, and be able to go out on the ice with the team. Hopefully I can get back soon.”
Laine has missed the last six games, and the Jets have lost four times in his absence. There have been rumblings about the future of head coach Paul Maurice in Winnipeg due to his team’s struggles.
Selected second overall last June, Laine has been as advertised in his freshman campaign: A scoring forward with a terrific and accurate shot. He leads Winnipeg in goals with 21. Certainly, the Jets have missed his ability to finish over this recent stretch. But at age 18 and given the nature of his injury, it’s imperative he not be rushed back.
“He comes back in (Saturday) and if he’s right where he left off and felt good, we would start to push the heart rate a little bit and gradually work up from there,” said Maurice, per the Winnipeg Sun. “If he feels good (Saturday), he’ll get some light bumps in.
“He’s absolutely not getting back into a game until he’s at 100 percent and clear. And then I’m more interested in getting him in the next game.”
The Jets play the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks on Monday and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Forward Jakob Silfverberg will not travel on the Anaheim Ducks’ upcoming two-game road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg while recovering from an upper-body injury.
The Ducks are leaving for Minnesota on Friday without Silfverberg, who was injured late in their 2-1 victory over Colorado on Thursday.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Silfverberg left Thursday’s game in the third period, shortly after a hit from Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov, and is considered day-to-day. Silfverberg’s head is believed to have hit the ice but it is not known if he suffered a head injury.
Anaheim recalled right wing Corey Tropp and defenseman Shea Theodore from its AHL affiliate in San Diego.
Silfverberg has 13 goals and 16 assists in a strong season with the Pacific Division-leading Ducks. The Swede is on pace to surpass his career highs in goals and assists.
Silfverberg has teamed up with All-Star center Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano on the Ducks’ most effective line this season.