Boston looks to lock up Stanley Cup finals berth while Tampa Bay looks for Game 7

It’s a do-or-die Game 6 for Tampa Bay at home against Boston. Tampa Bay can stave off elimination for a day and force a Game 7 on Friday night with a win tonight over the Bruins but the Bruins will be looking to put an end to things early and clinch their first spot in the Stanley Cup finals since 1990.

Boston @ Tampa Bay – 8 p.m. ET (Versus)Boston leads series 3-2

While the Bruins lineup will hold strong and play out the same way as it has the last few games, things in Tampa Bay are getting shuffled up a bit from Game 5. Dwayne Roloson will once again be back in goal to start for the Lightning after getting a day off in Game 5. In Game 5, Mike Smith played well in spite of losing giving up a pair of goals in a 3-1 Bruins win.

Some thought it might be the start of a goalie controversy but coach Guy Boucher put that talk to a stop quickly saying Roloson would get the start in Game 6 after “getting a rest” in Game 5. A curious decision nonetheless, but if Roloson slams the door shut tonight and helps Tampa Bay force a Game 7, the adulation for Boucher will grow stronger.

The other intrigue for Tampa Bay in their lineup is whether or not Sean Bergenheim will play tonight. Bergenheim left Game 5 with an injury and did not return and Boucher says it will be a game time decision whether or not he plays. If Bergenheim sits, it’ll be either forward Dana Tyrell or defenseman Randy Jones playing in his spot.

One matter to keep an eye on tonight is how the penalties shake out as referee Eric Furlatt gets to call tonight’s game and he hasn’t exactly been very Lightning-friendly through the playoffs calling 24 penalties against them and only nine against Tampa’s opponents. Guy Boucher says he’s “very aware” of the discrepancy and broke out some of his own gamesmanship this afternoon when asked about it.

For Boston, the key for them is to jump out on the Lightning early and get a goal to both put the Lightning back on their heels and to quiet down the crowd. Boston’s been great when grabbing leads early (Game 4 aside) and doing so again tonight would test the Lightning’s willingness to snap out of it and fight back yet again. The Lightning aren’t ones to show much quit but it demands that the Bruins play hard and stay aggressive for all 60 minutes. If they do that and get great play out of Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas yet again, they could be shaking hands at the end of tonight’s game.

For more analysis on tonight’s game, check out what Keith Jones and Mike Milbury had to say about things earlier today.

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?

WATCH LIVE: Game 1 for Penguins – Capitals, Rangers – Senators

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It’s really happening.

For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.

The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.

Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: CNBC (Stream online here)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)