This year’s Eastern Conference finals is one that many fans probably weren’t counting on happening. With the third-seeded Boston Bruins taking on the fifth seeded Tampa Bay Lightning after those teams took out the top two teams in the East, to the winner goes the spoils of a shot at the Stanley Cup.
In Boston’s favor they’ve got the stellar goaltending of Tim Thomas to lead the way along with Zdeno Chara’s presence along the blue line and the potential rugged defense of Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic. The Bruins having to make due without Patrice Bergeron will be a bit of a problem but rookie Tyler Seguin will try and steady things out in his stead.
Tampa Bay has the offense rolling for them in star players like Martin St. Louis, Steve Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier. They’re also getting great support from the likes of Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim not to mention great goaltending out of 41 year-old Dwayne Roloson.
With tacticians like Guy Boucher and Claude Julien behind the benches for each team we’re left to wonder if we’ll have a series loaded with punch-counter-punch offense or a more defensively reserved game. Either way, it sets up for an intriguing matchup. What we want to know is, who’s going to win? Let us know in our poll and in the comments.
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.
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.
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.