PHT Morning Skate: Bruins-Red Wings finally drop the puck

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We’re three days into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and now we’ll finally have all eight series underway after tonight. It could wind up being a case of saving the best for last when it comes to Boston and Detroit, a pair of other series drop the puck for Game 2 in Tampa and Anaheim.

After last night’s action that saw a triple-overtime winner by St. Louis and a comeback overtime win by Colorado, the bar might be set a little high tonight. It’s the most wonderful time of year.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Friday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 1-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — CNBC)

The Lightning will look to bounce back after watching Dale Weise beat them in overtime of Game 1. If there’s someone they have to worry about though it’s Daniel Briere. While Briere isn’t the dynamic scorer he once was, his presence on the Habs’ fourth line made them a difference maker against the Lightning fourth line.

After all, asking young guys like Cedric Paquette to have to wrangle Briere is asking a lot for a bunch that doesn’t play much and may not have a lot of NHL experience. We’ll see how Tampa coach Jon Cooper makes adjustments tonight against Michel Therrien. One thing’s for sure, we’ll see Carey Price bounce back stronger which means Anders Lindback will need to counter equally to even up the series.

Game 1: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

This may be the series most fans are most curious about. The Bruins are the top team in the league and are favorites against the Red Wings, but there’s always something about Detroit that gives everyone pause. Making the playoffs 23 seasons in a row will help add to that, but the Wings have the weapons to be a perilous first round opponent for the Bruins.

Pavel Datsyuk is healthy and playing well and having him join younger guys like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, and Tomas Jurco gives the Wings a lot of skill and speed. Detroit took three out of four this season from Boston, but the playoffs are a different animal and that means seeing more from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and the best out of Tuukka Rask.

The Bruins will want to get physical, but the Wings resist and steer away from that type of play. If Boston is to roll through the East this season, they’re going to earn it against Detroit.

Game 2: Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars [Anaheim leads series 1-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Ducks showed the Stars what playoff hockey was all about early in Game 1. After jumping out to a big early lead, it looked like they were ready to cruise, but the Stars found their legs late and gave them a scare before ultimately losing 4-3. Don’t expect the Stars to come in starstruck tonight.

The upside for Anaheim is they’ll likely have captain Ryan Getzlaf back in after he took a puck in the face late in Game 1. You may have seen what his face looked like after that from his brother on Twitter. That’s good news as they’ll need him to help keep Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin occupied and away from the Ducks net.

Expect the Stars to come out a bit tougher in Game 2 to help goalie Kari Lehtonen out. Leaving your goalie hung out to dry at the start of a playoff game isn’t something to be proud of and they’ll tighten things up to prevent it from happening again.

Detroit’s Ericsson likely to miss Round 1 vs. Bruins

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It’s been almost a month since Jonathan Ericsson underwent surgery on his broken finger — a lengthy time to be shelved, but apparently not enough for the injury to fully heal.

Ericsson is unlikely to be available for Detroit’s opening-round playoff series against Boston, GM Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily. The injury, which the club originally thought would only sideline Ericsson for 10-14 days, ended up requiring a 4-6 week timetable, forcing the Swedish blueliner to miss the last 14 games of the regular season.

This has been a crazy year for Ericsson overall. He’s been pretty good when healthy — scoring 11 points in 48 games while averaging over 21 minutes a night — and signed a big six-year, $25.5 million extension with Detroit in November. But he’s had absolutely miserable luck health-wise, missing time with rib and shoulder injuries prior to the broken finger.

Not having him available for the opening playoff round will be tough on Detroit, as Ericsson’s one of the club’s most veteran players — he has 64 games of playoff experience on his resume, and played in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final loss to Pittsburgh.

 

Bruins not optimistic about Seidenberg playoff return

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Last month, there was excitement coming out of Boston as reports suggested Dennis Seidenberg — out since December with a torn ACL — might be able to return to the lineup come playoff time.

On Monday, that enthusiasm was tempered a bit.

“We’re not counting on Dennis to be back,” B’s GM Peter Chiarelli said, per CSNNE. “We’re going to be very cautious with his injury. He has been skating, but that’s all I can say on it. It really hasn’t changed.”

Seidenberg resumed skating on Apr. 9 and, at the time, Boston Herald sources claimed the team was contemplating a possible lineup return should the Bruins go deep into the playoffs. The 32-year-old German rearguard emerged as a terrific shutdown defenseman during last year’s Stanley Cup run, averaging nearly 27 minutes a night and was rewarded for his efforts with a four-year, $16 million extension in October.

Without Seidenberg — and fellow blueliner Adam McQuaid — in the lineup, Boston has relied on youngsters like Dougie Hamilton (20), Torey Krug (22), Matt Bartkowski (25) and Kevan Miller (26) extensively this season, and has managed to squeeze some decent minutes out of trade deadline pickups Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter.

 

Bruins are 7/2 favorites to win the Stanley Cup; Blues next at 6/1

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The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins are also the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, according to online bookmaker Bovada.

Following is the full list of Cup odds:

Boston Bruins 7/2
St. Louis Blues 6/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/1
Chicago Blackhawks 8/1
Anaheim Ducks 9/1
San Jose Sharks 9/1
Los Angeles Kings 10/1
Colorado Avalanche 14/1
Detroit Red Wings 20/1
Montreal Canadiens 20/1
New York Rangers 20/1
Philadelphia Flyers 20/1
Tampa Bay Lightning 25/1
Minnesota Wild 40/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 50/1
Dallas Stars 50/1

Back in the beginning of February, the Bruins’ odds were considerably higher, at 9/1.  A 17-3-5 record since the Olympic break helped push the line to 7/2.

Boston opens the playoffs against Detroit. Beat the Red Wings and the Bruins would meet the winner of the Montreal-Tampa Bay series for a spot in the Eastern Conference Final.

Sabres lose five players to injury in loss to Bruins

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Buffalo Sabres goalie Matt Hackett wasn’t the only player to get hurt in their 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) and forwards Matt D’Agostini (lower-body), Brian Flynn (lower-body), and Chris Stewart (re-injured ankle) all left the Saturday afternoon tilt with separate injuries as John Vogl of The Buffalo News shares.

It’s a tough enough year on us in our situation with the standings, but also to lose bodies the way we’ve been doing is an unfortunate thing, too,” McBain said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my career. I’ve never heard of anything like it.”

All five players will not suit up against the New York Islanders on Sunday for the final game of the season.

The Sabres have the worst record in the NHL and will have the best odds of landing the first overall pick in the NHL Draft. The Sabres’ injury list headed into the game was already long enough with guys like Tyler Myers leading a list of others out of action.

Now the real question now is: Who the heck is going to play for this team tomorrow?