2011 Playoffs: Teams try to maintain or reverse momentum in four Game 2 contests

Saturday’s four games include two opportunities for road teams to take threatening 2-0 leads and two home teams with a chance to hold serve by doing the same. Which teams will dig deep and which ones might look back in regret? Let’s take a look. All start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

Phoenix @ Detroit – 1 p.m. (NBC) Red Wings lead series 1-0

Our weekend playoff coverage begins with a rematch of the 2010 playoff series. While last year’s match was surprisingly competitive for casual fans, Game 1 began the way most would expect, with the Red Wings’ top-end talent overwhelming the star-starved Coyotes. It’s not panic time for Phoenix by any means, but if they want to win, they’re going to need some all-world performances from their stud goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Red Wings’ time as a true dynasty might be winding down considering the advanced age of its defense and limited amount of young players, while the Coyotes’ time in Arizona might be winding down as well. We’ll see which team could put distractions aside and alter the landscape of this series.

Buffalo @ Philadelphia – 5 p.m. Sabres lead series 1-0

Many people worried about the Flyers defense in Chris Pronger’s absence and their goaltending considering Sergei Bobrovsky’s rookie presence, yet their Game 1 issue was offense instead. Philly will be forced to go without Pronger in Game 2 as well, but will their firepower show up this time around?

Of course, it’s easy to get hysterical about the team’s lack of offense, but don’t forget that the 1-0 loss came against Ryan Miller. When he’s at his best, he can short-circuit some explosive attacking schemes. We’ll see if he can back up that opening performance or if he’ll struggle to produce an encore in Game 2.

Montreal @ Boston – 7 p.m. (Versus) Canadiens lead series 1-0

Carey Price and the Habs managed to shut down the Bruins in Game 1, effectively beating them at their own game. Perhaps a thirsty Zdeno Chara was part of the problem for Boston, as the huge defenseman needed to be hospitalized with dehydration last night. Chara’s status for this game is unclear, but since this is the playoffs, it wouldn’t be surprising if he suits up.

One underrated storyline is the shaky – or at least not very timely – play of vaunted goalie Tim Thomas. If he keeps losing playoff games, people might start to overreact about the disparity between his regular season and postseason success.

Los Angeles @ San Jose – 10 p.m. (Versus) Sharks lead series 1-0

The Sharks won Game 1, but a lot of people were surprised that the Kings were able to hang in there and even control much of the play. Joe Pavelski continued his big-game success, though, scoring a top shelf beauty to give San Jose the win in overtime.

The Kings are playing with house money while the Sharks seem to be in eternal favorite mode, but San Jose could take a 2-0 series lead with a win tonight. An impressive win wouldn’t hurt matters for them, either.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.