Tag: game previews

San Jose Sharks v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three

Sharks, Bruins try to complete sweeps of Red Wings, Flyers tonight

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If things keep going the way they’ve been, two more series might be complete by the end of Friday. That’s a big change of pace from the four Game 7’s found in the first round, but these playoffs have been as nutty as they’ve been captivating, so you never know.

Let’s take a look at the two Game 4 contests that will dominate tonight’s hockey action. As always, start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

San Jose @ Detroit (Versus) – 7 p.m.; Sharks lead series 3-0

Both the Red Wings and Sharks are expected to stick with their lineups from Game 3. Some Red Wings fans might be a little upset about that, but honestly, I think most alterations would likely qualify as “change for the sake of change.” After all, it’s not like the Red Wings are getting blow out by the Sharks.

We’ll wait and see if this ends up being the last game for Nicklas Lidstrom and/or Mike Modano. If that’s the case, Modano would do so on the bench.

Check out CSN’s game notes for more on this game.

Philadelphia @ Boston – 8 p.m.; Bruins lead series 3-0

While the Red Wings are wise to stand pat despite a 3-0 deficit, the Flyers are equally justified in making a change in net. As we speculated, Sergei Bobrovsky will start Game 4 after Brian Boucher failed to win a single game in this series.

Naturally, there will be many who wonder if the Flyers can turn it around. Tim Panaccio thinks that Philly will play loose with little to lose while Joe Haggerty points out what makes this year’s Bruins team different.

Video: Hockey Central previews Game 4 of Sharks-Red Wings and Flyers-Bruins

Scott Hartnell, Johnny Boychuk

The first round of the 2011 playoffs really was one of the best in ages. That’s not just a subjective statement of phrase but rather an opinion backed up by facts. When half of the series go a full seven games, nearly every night features an overtime period or two and comebacks are plentiful, you know you’re in for a great round.

That set a difficult bar for Round 2, and even with some compelling games, it looks like the second set of games could be much shorter. The Tampa Bay Lightning already swept the Washington Capitals and now the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins could do the same to the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers tonight.

Of course, the Red Wings and Flyers are talented teams despite their predicaments, so assuming that they’ll fold is dangerous. To get you pumped up for Friday’s duo of games, the Versus crew provided previews of each contest, which you can see in the video below.

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Your primer for tonight’s three playoff games

Joe Thornton, Patrick Eaves, Brian Rafalski

As I mentioned earlier today, from a sheer quantity standpoint, this will likely be the best remaining night in the 2011 playoffs. Obviously, schedules are subject to change, but if things stay the same this would be the last night with three games. The rest of the evenings will likely include no more than two contests, with many one-game nights as the playoffs go on.

Don’t be too sad, though, because each game becomes that much more significant as we go deeper into May and eventually June. If you want a quick guide of tonight’s three games, you’ve come to the right place. As always, start times are according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).

Philadelphia @ Boston (Versus) – 7 p.m.; Bruins lead series 2-0.

The Bruins are saying all the right things about taking this game seriously. Considering their recent history (from their first round comeback against Montreal to last year’s collapse against Philly), they obviously should.

The Flyers’ lineup changes are still a bit up in the air, with Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter’s statuses unknown. Boston should see few changes aside from Shane Hnidy taking big Adam McQuaid’s spot on the blueline.

(Other links of potential interest: Peter Laviolette won’t blame the goalies alone and Tim Thomas dominates Game 2.)

Washington @ Tampa Bay (NHL Network) – 7 p.m.; Lightning lead series 3-0.

It’s natural to focus a lot of attention on what the Capitals are doing wrong, but don’t lose sight of the great work by the Lightning. They are getting contributions from big name players and lesser known skaters alike, not to mention their outstanding elder in net.

It’s unclear if Mike Green will play for Washington while Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina are question marks for Tampa Bay. Alex Ovechkin says the Caps will win this game while Bruce Boudreau thinks that it’s dumb to ask if his job is on the line. Yes, you’re right in thinking that there is a lot of pressure on the Capitals at the moment.

San Jose @ Detroit – 8 p.m.; Sharks lead series 2-0.

The Sharks and Red Wings were in this exact position last year, at least from a series score standpoint. San Jose ended up splitting the two road games before closing out Detroit, so surely the Wings want to hold serve at home.

They’ll try to mix things up by separating Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, a perfectly reasonable move since both are comfortable (and adept) in the center spot. There’s been plenty of “gamesmanship” as this series gets nastier, with all of the vitriol caused by the impolite Jimmy Howard snow showers and the back-and-forth between the teams’ two coaches. These two teams are high on talent, but that’s not the only reason this series has been so entertaining.

Bruins say the right things about Game 3, Hnidy will take McQuaid’s spot

James Wisniewski, Shane Hnidy

When you build up an early lead, it’s almost natural to sag a bit. After all, you’ve acquired some sporting insurance and you’re inherently less hungry than your opponent. If the talent levels are close, losing that heightened sense of urgency can be an issue.

Despite building up a 2-0 lead, the Boston Bruins are saying all the right things as they prepare for Game 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. It’s not as if they need to search far and wide for an example of how fickle a two-game (and yes, even a three-game) series lead can be, considering the team’s recent history.

The Flyers will be the team facing the biggest changes, as Chris Pronger is expected to miss tonight’s game while Jeff Carter will be a game-time decision. (Naturally, these situations are always subject to change.)

Nope, the only difference for the Bruins is some home cooking and that Shane Hnidy will replace an injured Adam McQuaid. All indications point to Tim Thomas going up against Brian Boucher in the nets, so the biggest changes could be in execution and attitude.

Here’s what the team said about Game 3 against the Flyers.

“If we play well, we’ll be up by another game,” said coach Claude Julien, shedding some light onto the approach in the B’s dressing room. “I don’t think there’s anyone in that dressing room, including coaching staff and players, that are certainly sitting comfortable. This is going to be a tough task, and they’re a good team, and we’re ready to face that challenge.”


“For us, it’s about taking all the emotion and energy from the crowd and use it to give us everything that we need,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We need to take whatever we can to do the job at home because that’s going to be huge going down the stretch.”

Game 1 was a blowout, but Thomas really bailed the Bruins out in Game 2. It should be interesting to see if Game 3 has the same neck breakneck pace or if Boston will use home ice advantage to clog things up a bit. Either way, they’re taking the Flyers’ threat seriously, at least on the record.

Mike Babcock announces lineup changes, predicts San Jose’s response

Mike Babcock, Drew Miller
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Unless you’ve been sipping the Conspiracy Theory Kool-Aid a little too much, you would probably agree that the San Jose Sharks have the Detroit Red Wings’ number. It’s pretty tough to deny, as the Sharks dispatched them in five games in the 2010 playoffs, won three out of four games in the 2010-11 regular season and hold a 2-0 lead in their current series.

What isn’t commented on very often is the “master vs. pupil” matchup between Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and Sharks coach Todd McLellan. Before McLellan took the top spot in San Jose, he was an assistant coach for Babcock in Detroit.

While savvy general managing accounts for some of the similarities in the two teams’ rosters, the similar puck possession-happy systems should come as no surprise.

It probably shouldn’t be surprising that the two coaches can occasionally predict each others’ actions, either. Babcock announced one lineup change – Kris Draper will take Drew Miller’s spot – and confirmed the separation of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. The most interesting part of his commentary came in the form of a slight jab at his cohort, as he also predicted how McLellan would react to split up of Datsyuk and Zetterberg. To be fair, McLellan didn’t totally deny the possibility, though.

“We’ll practice with 93, 13, 96 (Johan Franzen, Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom), 44, 40, 11 (Todd Bertuzzi, Zetterberg and Dan Cleary), 8, 51 and 26 (Justin Abdelkader, Valteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler) and 33, 43 and 17 (Draper, Darren Helm and Patrick Eaves), and he’ll counter with moving Logan Couture onto (Joe) Thornton’s line and putting (Patrick) Marleau in the middle.”

To which McLellan smiled when asked if he could confirm Babcock’s announcement and said, “Maybe.

“If I did that,” he said, “it’s just size and strength down the middle. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are obviously skilled, but they’re also very strong. Marleau is 6-3, 230, 225, in there, not that Logan Couture couldn’t do the job, because he has.”

In other words, “We might.”

As McLellan later pointed out, strategies only take you so far. A coach’s moves make an impact, for sure, but not on the same game-changing level as in the NFL. There are too many moving parts to control everything, so you just try to put the right players in the right situations to succeed.

We’ll see if McLellan can continue to do so against his former mentor.