Andreas Nodl, Tim Thomas

Eastern Conference semifinals: Bruins-Flyers; Who do you have?

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(Share your thoughts about which team will win the Lightning-Capitals series here, the Predators-Canucks series here, the Red Wings-Sharks series-here and the Stanley Cup in this post.)

After appearing in the most eagerly anticipated first round series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins find themselves in the juiciest second round match as well. The Bruins will face approximately five billion questions about last year’s collapse against the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers as they prepare for the formidable 2011 model.

Just about anyone with a vague interest in playoff hockey knows that the Flyers dealt with a bizarre three goalie carousel in the first round. What you might not realize is that Brian Boucher was actually quite excellent at times as he amassed a 4-1 record with an outstanding 93.4 save percentage and 2.10 GAA. Even so, the driving force behind Philly’s first round win was their fearsome offensive attack. While the squad boasts waves of talent including Mike Richards and Claude Giroux, post-lockout leading scorer Danny Briere stole the show with six goals in just seven games. If that wasn’t enough, Chris Pronger actually looked pretty good in Game 7, skating for more than 17 minutes and collecting an assist.

The Bruins come into this series with more than a few questions, even if they defeated their historical rivals. Tim Thomas was great against the Habs, but he’ll have to be even better in Round 2. Ryan Miller got the best of Philly a couple times, but they ultimately broke him down. Boston’s defense is a little bit better at the top, but looked shaky in other areas (especially disappointing trade acquisition Tomas Kaberle). Can they deal with the Flyers’ depth in a best-of-seven series?

The B’s received surprising contributions from the Rich Peverley-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder line, but they need more from Milan Lucic and a whole lot more from their anemic power play. A scoreless PP might cut it against the offensively shallow Habs, but that won’t fly against the Flyers’ firepower.

So what do you think? Will Boston get revenge against Philly for that epic 2010 collapse or will the Flyers bully the big, bad Bruins? Let us know by voting in the poll below.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.