Senators Spezza Hockey

Playoffs tonight: Spezza’s Game 3 return, Bruins-Rangers highlight your Sunday

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Business picks up a bit for your Sunday pleasure with a pair of Eastern Conference games taking the stage. You can get locked into all your playoff action starting this afternoon and roll through the evening.

Please keep in mind that both games can be watched online in addition to the channels listed below.

Game 2: Boston Bruins host the New York Rangers — (3 p.m. ET, NBC)
Boston leads series 1-0

Game 1 of this series seemed to be a bit too familiar for the Rangers. They were outshot badly, they didn’t score nearly enough goals, and Henrik Lundqvist had to stand on his head for the team to have a chance before eventually losing in overtime. If there’s anything the Rangers want to avoid it’s overtime.

New York is 0-3 in overtime games this year and Lundqvist has a 3-11 playoff OT record himself. That means it’s up to the erratic Rangers offense to find a way to beat the Bruins’ defense. With half their starters injured in Game 1, the Bruins held strong defensively. Now they’re looking at Wade Redden possibly returning to action today and Dennis Seidenberg is skating again.

These are all bad news for New York who could really use a big game (or two, or three) from Brad Richards and Rick Nash. It’s too bad Carl Hagelin supposedly “stinks” on the power play, the Rangers could use a boost there as they’re just 2-31 on the man advantage in the playoffs.

Game 3: Ottawa Senators host the Pittsburgh Penguins — (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Pittsburgh leads series 2-0

It’s tough not to focus on Jason Spezza’s return to the lineup for Ottawa in this game. Pittsburgh’s been so incredibly efficient against Ottawa, including chasing Craig Anderson in Game 2, that it’s almost not dramatic. Enter Spezza into the mix to provide some kind of spark and the Senators could use it.

While guys like Kyle Turris and Zach Smith have played strong to this point in the postseason, Spezza is on another level both offensively and defensively. While the Sens could use the goals, it’s the latter part of that they could really use a lift in when it comes to defending against Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Malkin ate Ottawa up in Game 1 while Crosby was the man in Game 2 netting a hat trick. Trying to control those two is like herding rabid feral cats. No pressure though Spezza, your team just needs you to be the difference maker into turning this series around. Dropping Game 3 could mean this fun run by the Sens may end by Wednesday night.

Bruins’ banged-up D skate on Saturday

seidenbergdennisgetty
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The Boston Bruins got by in Game 1 against the New York Rangers with a pretty green defense corps, as Torey Krug enjoyed an impressive playoff debut. Even so, they’d probably prefer to have some of their experienced blueliners back.

It’s unclear if that will be the case for Game 2 on Sunday, but the team reports some progress during practice on Saturday.

Wade Redden practiced with the team while Dennis Seidenberg skated on his own. While head coach Claude Julien said he doesn’t expect Seidenberg to play in Game 2, Redden is labelled a game-time (or at least Sunday) decision.

Redden, 35, understands the difference between being healthy enough to play versus being healthy enough to be effective.

“Everybody wants to be out there, but it’s got to be the right way,” added Redden. “If you go out there and you’re not able to do what you need to do you’re only hurting the team.”

“We’re kind of on the outside, you know – you want to get healthy, you want to do everything you can to get back.”

It remains to be seen if he’ll be good to go tomorrow.

Bruins’ Hamilton: ‘I don’t feel like a rookie anymore’

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers
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Dougie Hamilton is still eligible to play in junior hockey playoffs.

However, at the age of 19, Hamilton is contributing to a Boston Bruins team that has an opportunity to make it back to the Eastern Conference final for the second time in three years.

Hamilton had an assist – his first career Stanley Cup playoff point – for the Bruins in Thursday’s overtime victory over the New York Rangers in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

He was a plus-two in addition to what he tallied on the score sheet.

He’s also seen a climb in his ice time during these playoffs. In his first two games against Toronto, Hamilton had 13:32 and 10:49, respectively, in time on ice. The last two games, he’s played 21:08 and 20:45 – the latter total coming in Game 1 against New York.

“I don’t really feel like a rookie or a new player anymore. I just feel like a guy that’s trying to take advantage of the situation that I’m in,” Hamilton told CSNNE.com.

“There’s more intensity. Every play matters, and you care about every play more. Guys are willing to work harder to not make mistakes. There are definitely some games during the regular season where it feels like the playoffs, but now there is consistently more intensity and more of a willingness to do what it takes to win.”

Discuss: Bruins win in OT again, take 1-0 series lead

shotblockgetty
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The Boston Bruins dominated most of Game 1’s OT period, which is often an oddly bad omen in many playoff games. Instead, it was a sign of good things to come, as Brad Marchand scored the 3-2 winner to give the Bruins a 1-0 series lead on Thursday.

Let’s discuss the game.

  • Marchand finally scored his first goal of this postseason, which was set up by Patrice Bergeron. David Krejci also looked dangerous in the game, collecting his 14th point of the playoffs. How underrated are those three Bruins forwards?
  • Henrik Lundqvist was amazing, especially during a dangerous OT power play for Boston. He’s put up outstanding numbers in this year’s playoffs yet his record is 4-4. Will he be able to hold up over the long-term if New York continues to fall short in the “goal support” category?
  • The Bruins fired 48 shots on goal to the Rangers’ 35 and hit a few posts as well. Do those numbers point toward Boston being a substantially better team or is it too early to tell?
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  • The Rangers bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to win their first-round series against the Washington Capitals. Can they manage that feat if they fall short in Game 2? Who do you expect to win that contest?
  • Speaking of that contest, it takes place on Sunday. Which team benefits more from the extra day of rest (if any benefits more, that is)?
  • Torey Krug scored a goal in his playoff debut. How do you feel about the rookie blueliner?
  • How would you compare Tuukka Rask to Lundqvist? Is he an “elite” goalie or would you say that he’s maybe a “rung” lower?
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Bruins’ Krug scores first NHL goal in first career playoff game

toreykruggetty
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Boston Bruins rookie Torey Krug already was earning some positive reviews in his first career postseason contest at the NHL level in Game 1 against the New York Rangers on Thursday. Scoring the goal that sent this closely-matched series opener into overtime just put his debut over the top:

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Not bad, kid.

(He also had an assist in his lone regular season contest in 2013, so maybe the 22-year-old just has the knack.)