On what will be a busy night in the National Hockey League — 10 games all told — NBC Sports Network will be front and center with a pair of games in an East-West doubleheader.
Up first is Boston at Philly (7:00 p.m. ET), a game that has little meaning for the Flyers but plenty for the Bruins.
Boston is looking to secure points and stay ahead of Montreal for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference — currently, the B’s are tied on points with the Habs (59) but are ahead in the standings thanks to games played (44 to Montreal’s 45).
Neither team has played exceptionally well as of late. The Flyers are 5-5-0 in their last 10 and were recently bounced from playoff contention while the Bruins are 5-4-1 over their last 10, and have failed to surpass a slumping Montreal team in the points chase.
Once these two teams are done, focus turns out West for a huge game in terms of playoff jockeying.
The Dallas Stars are in San Jose to take on the Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET, and in a very unique position. Despite sitting 10th in the West, the Stars are technically in control of their own playoff fate as they have games remaining against the teams they’re chasing — Detroit, and Columbus.
That said, those upcoming games might mean little if the Stars can’t get a result tonight in the Shark Tank.
Not that it’ll be easy.
The Sharks are one of the best home teams in the league this year, posting a 16-2-5 record at HP Pavilion. San Jose also has plenty to play for tonight as they didn’t get any help on the playoff clinching front last night — if Phoenix had defeated Detroit (the ‘Yotes lost 4-0), San Jose would’ve automatically qualified for the postseason.
People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.
Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.
Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.
The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.
“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”
If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.
Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.
“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”
Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.
PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
Trevor Daley, traded to Blackhawks for Sharp & Johns and to #Pens for Scuderi (who was flipped to LA for Ehrhoff) played 28:41 in G4 W.