Almost any playoff game can change the scope of a series considering the limited amount of contests involved, but Game 5’s are frequently pivotal. That should definitely be the case for tonight’s two games, as both series will end up 3-2 by the end of the evening. Let’s take a look at them now, with all start times being Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Buffalo @ Philadelphia – 7:30 p.m. (Versus); Series tied 2-2.
This is starting to seem like a feast or famine series for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. In the team’s two wins, he looked like an absolute star by getting shutouts. Yet in the two losses, he’s been able to empathize with Roberto Luongo’s struggles by allowing eight goals. It’ll be interesting to see if this ends up being a tight or wide open game tonight.
One thing that seems certain is that the intensity will ratchet up. The two sides keep falling into wars of words, with the most recent exchange taking place between Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and Flyers captain Mike Richards. If you haven’t been able to see much of this series yet, you should absolutely take the chance to watch tonight’s game.
Nashville @ Anaheim – 10 p.m. (Versus); Series tied at 2-2
With Bobby Ryan’s two-game absence in mind, the Ducks probably feel pretty good about returning to Anaheim with their series tie intact. This is very much a seesaw series so far, with the Predators looking great in Games 1 and 3 and the Ducks winning impressively in Game 2 and 4.
Much like that Flyers-Sabres series, the angst level keeps rising as well. From Ryan’s suspension to Ducks GM Bob Murray’s diving complaints to the Jarkko Ruutu suspension, these teams are clearly getting to know each other. Expect some fireworks in what could be a decisive rubber match.
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.