The first round ended last night and we’re going to jump straight into the next round. If you want to see the full schedule, here it is.
Additionally, both of tonight’s series openers will be available online.
Game 1: Pittsburgh Penguins host Ottawa Senators (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
With defenseman Erik Karlsson back due to his Wolverine-like healing abilities, the Senators made surprisingly quick work of the second seed Montreal Canadiens. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson also did more than his fair share, posting a 1.80 GAA and .950 save percentage in five games.
Who the Pittsburgh Penguins counter Anderson with remains to be seen. Tomas Vokoun was the better goaltender in the first round, but the Penguins declined to name their starter for Game 1. Either way, goaltending is one area where Ottawa seems to have the edge.
The main question is if Anderson and the Senators will be able to contain the Penguins’ explosive offense. Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin, and Kris Letang all averaged at least a point per game for Pittsburgh in the first round. Pittsburgh has legitimate threats to score on every line, which will make defending against them all the more difficult.
This will also Karlsson’s first game against Pittsburgh since the incident with Matt Cooke that threatened to end his season. Karlsson downplayed the reunion via Twitter, but there’s certainly some recent hard feelings between these two teams.
Game 1: Los Angeles Kings host San Jose Sharks (10:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
The defending Stanley Cup champions have made it past the first round and now they’ll take on the team that swept the Vancouver Canucks in four games.
Everyone on the Sharks seemed to click at the same time during the first round and when that happens, San Jose is very tough to beat. However, this will be the Sharks’ first game in a week and you have to wonder if that time off has killed their momentum.
Additionally, the Kings are likely going to be a lot more physical with the Sharks than the Canucks were.
“They’re a hard team,” Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart said. “They’re going to play hard, and every line is going to throw some physicality at you. They’re going to make it tough, and they don’t give you any ice for free, you’re going to have to work for it.”
One guy to keep an eye on from the Kings side is Dustin Brown. He was an offensive leader when the Kings won the Stanley Cup, but so far he has just a goal and an assist in six postseason games.