Playoffs Tonight: It’s time for Vokoun


The San Jose Sharks were the first team to advance to the second round. Will the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks earn their spots tonight?

Please keep in mind that you can watch all these games online in addition to the channels listed below:

Game 5: Montreal Canadiens host Ottawa Senators (7:00 p.m. ET, CNBC)
Ottawa leads series 3-1

Montreal took a 2-0 lead in Game 4 on Tuesday, but a questionable goal by Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad turned the tide and led to the Senators’ 3-2 overtime victory.

On top of that, the Canadiens have lost captain Brian Gionta for the rest of the playoffs. They might also be without starting goaltender Carey Price after he was injured on Tuesday.

Even with all of that, they are still confident going into tonight’s contest.

“Quite frankly, I want to beat these guys,” Canadiens defenseman PK Subban said. “We have another opportunity tomorrow to play, and we can beat these guys. We’re better.”

Game 5: Pittsburgh Penguins host New York Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Series tied at 2-2

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled mightily in this series, especially in Game 4, so it’s no surprise that Tomas Vokoun will get the nod tonight.

Vokoun had an incredible 0.90 GAA and .970 save percentage in four games against the Islanders in four regular season games, so there is reason to be optimistic about this switch. At the same time, the Islanders have faced long odds this entire series and that hasn’t stopped them.

“We’re hoping they’re a little rattled, a little worried about us,” Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner told Newsday, “because we think we have every opportunity to win this series. The more frustrated they get, the better it is for us. I’m sure they’d love to be up 3-1 right now, but that’s hockey.”

Game 5: Chicago Blackhawks host Minnesota Wild (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Chicago leads 3-1

Speaking of goaltending, while we know Vokoun will replace Fleury tonight, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo won’t reveal his starter or backup. Niklas Backstrom (lower body) and Josh Harding (leg) are both questionable, so it’s possible that Darcy Kuemper will end up starting.

That would be a lot of pressure for Kuemper, who has played in just seven NHL games, including his brief appearance in Game 4, but regardless of the Wild’s situation, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will expect a lot from his team.

“Yesterday’s game is probably the minimal standard we should be looking for,” Quenneville said the day after they earned a 3-0 victory in Game 4.

If Chicago defeats Minnesota then they’ll become just the second Presidents’ Trophy winner in five years to advance past the first round.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.