Chicago Blackhawks v Phoenix Coyotes

Playoff matchups: Blackhawks set to face Pacific Division champs

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If there is a prevailing cliche to take from the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings, it’s probably “be careful what you wish for.” Detroit fought its way to OT to clinch a first round series against the Nashville Predators (dubious), which enables sixth seed Chicago to get what some what believe is a favorable matchup – relatively speaking – against whichever team wins the Pacific Division.

That’s still up for grabs, yet that really is the question: should Chicago be that happy to face a team that’s probably not the “third” best team in the West? Right now the Phoenix Coyotes (95 points, 35 regulation/OT wins) lead seventh-ranked Los Angeles (94, 34 reg/OT) and eighth-ranked San Jose (94, 33 reg/OT) but that could all change tonight. All three squads bring different headaches to the table, but here are Chicago’s season series results against each team:

vs. Phoenix: 1-2-1
vs. Los Angeles: 1-2-1
vs. San Jose: 2-2

Despite being the least likely opponent (by a marginal amount), the Sharks might strike Blackhawks fans as the ideal matchup. Both teams seem to have similar strengths like high-powered offenses and up-and-down goaltending, while there’s the obvious historical element of Chicago sweeping San Jose in the 2010 Western Conference finals. Oh yeah, the Blackhawks would also face their former Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi if that happens.

So would that be the ideal matchup for Chicago? If not, who would be? Which team should scare the Blackhawks the most?

Final note: the Blackhawks are like the Red Wings in that they’re pretty weak on the road, too, so this should be a tough series for Chicago under most circumstances.

Capitals manage OT win after coughing up lead to Bruins

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 03: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Winnipeg Jets during the first period at Verizon Center on November 3, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t pretty, and they might have lost key defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury, but at least the Washington Capitals managed a win against the Boston Bruins.

For a while, it was looking pretty ugly.

After going up 3-0, the Capitals went more than a period’s worth of time without even managing a shot on goal. Whether you lean more toward giving the Bruins credit for fighting back or beating up the Capitals for “sitting on a lead,” it’s staggering that such a dangerous offense could be held in check for so long.

Luckily for Washington, Nicklas Backstrom salvaged the night with an overtime goal to give the Capitals a 4-3 overtime win.

Both teams have had a knack for extending games beyond regulation lately, by the way:

Capitals over the last three games:
Shootout loss to the Lightning
Overtime win against the Sabres
Overtime win tonight against the Bruins

Bruins over the last five games:
Shootout loss against Flyers
Shootout win against Hurricanes
Regulation win against Sabres
Overtime win against Panthers
Overtime loss to the Capitals

Maybe that’s what gets it done in 2016-17: finding ways to carve out wins and shake out rough patches, like the Caps did tonight.

Matt Niskanen injured by Patrice Bergeron boarding hit

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Patrice Bergeron doesn’t have a reputation for dirty hits, but he drew the Washington Capitals’ ire for a hit on Matt Niskanen.

The Capitals consider Niskanen “probable” to return to Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins with what they’re calling an upper-body injury. Bergeron received a two-minute boarding penalty for the infraction.

(Check out video of the hit above.)

The Capitals’ Twitter acknowledged the brewing bad feelings.

Does Bergeron deserve supplemental discipline for that boarding hit?

Washington currently leads the game 3-2.

Ouch: NHL official helped off ice after puck to knee (Video)

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There are plenty of hazards on an NHL rink even if you’re not a player.

Barry Trotz ranks among the coaches who’ve been hit by pucks, though he’s one of the tiny sliver of humans who would shake off a puck to the forehead. It can be dangerous for officials, too, whether it means a wayward puck or wayward player.

The latest example comes in the form of linesman Steve Miller needing help off the ice after a puck hit him in the knee area. As you can see from the video, it looked like he was in serious pain.

Yikes:

Video: Tyler Bozak with some saucy moves on this goal

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It’s refreshing that hockey fans have, for the most part, moved on from debating Tyler Bozak‘s merits.

The general feeling is that the Toronto Maple Leafs use him in appropriate ways these days, so we can simply enjoy his work as a pretty spiffy hockey player.

Speaking of spiffy, check out the sweet moves he made against the Minnesota Wild for the goal above. Feels like you could dub over a Chris Berman “whoop” or two in there, right?

(If you’re into that kind of thing.)

Here’s that gaudy move in isolation and in GIF form: