Chicago earned a 4-1 victory yesterday to become the first, and potentially only, squad to jump to a 2-0 lead in the second round.
Last year the final four teams in the playoffs were also the last four Stanley Cup winners — Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Boston. While the 2014 second round is still young, it’s entirely possible that we will see the same Conference Final matchups again this year.
It will still be a bit before we know if that’s going to happen, but we’ll be one step closer to finding out after NBCSN’s doubleheader tonight.
Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers [Series tied at 1-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
The Penguins and Rangers were given an uncommon series schedule in the sense that they have been asked to play three games in four days. Pittsburgh and New York fought last night, with the Penguins earning a 3-0 victory.
It was Pittsburgh’s first shutout of the postseason and they frustrated the Rangers by denying them on four power-play opportunities. The Rangers are now 0-for-25 with the man advantage in their last seven games.
The Penguins got a bit of a breather before this series started, but the Rangers’ first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers went to seven games. This will consequently be New York’s fifth contest in seven days. That’s brutal and while Rangers coach Alain Vigneault insists it shouldn’t be a factor, it’s hard to see how it’s not taking its toll on the Rangers.
This is a great opportunity for the Penguins to take the lead before this series’ schedule gets a little lighter.
Game 2: Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks [Los Angeles leads series 1-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
This might not be a must-win for the Anaheim Ducks, but it’s pretty close. Los Angeles is a tough team to win a series against under any circumstances, but if the Ducks drop their first two games at home, then it would take a substantial effort on their part to get back into this.
The good news for the Ducks is that winning Game 2 would not be a monumental task. They know they can beat the Kings after going 4-0-1 against them in the regular season and coming within a hair of beating them in the series opener. It took a historic effort by Kings forward Marian Gaborik to change the outcome of that game.
“It’s a 3-2 overtime game where both teams battle and no one dominated. Either team could have won,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau remarked after the game.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ducks and Kings look fairly even tonight as well.