We’ve got a full day of playoff hockey ahead of us on Saturday, starting with the Bruins and Capitals at 3pm ET. From there the Rangers and Senators will play at 7pm ET as New York tries to take a 2-0 series and the Sharks will follow-up their double overtime win against the Blues in Game 2 at 7:30pm ET. Lastly, Chicago and Phoenix will start Game 2 of their series at 10pm ET. It’s worth noting again that all 2012 playoff action will be televised by NBC Universal.
If you need the Bruins-Capitals and Sharks-Blues games set up for you, check out the video below:
Friday April 13 in Florida @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Sunday April 15 in Florida @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Tuesday April 17 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
Thursday April 19 in New Jersey @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Saturday April 21 in Florida @ 6:30 p.m. (NHL Network, TSN)
*Tuesday April 24 in New Jersey @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in Florida @ TBD (TBD)
Three storylines to follow
1. Goalie questions. Neither team can feel 100 percent comfortable in net. For better or worse, Martin Brodeur is essentially grandfathered into the New Jersey goal while the Panthers might be better off going with Brodeur’s former backup in Scott Clemmensen rather than Jose Theodore. Either way, the goaltending doesn’t look to be a beauty contest.
2. Jersey’s stars. The Devils have the star power category locked up but, aside from Patrik Elias, haven’t thrived in the big time. Ilya Kovalchuk’s single career playoff win — game, not series — is pretty well-publicized and Zach Parise’s future remains in question, so there are a lot of moving parts for a team that admittedly looks much better on paper.
3. House money? The Panthers head into the playoffs in a rare spot. They’re the third seed, yet almost certainly the underdogs. They’ve already done more than people expected by a) making the playoffs and b) winning the Southeast. Playing with house money and home ice advantage? Not too shabby.
Florida: 38-26-18, 94 points (1st in Southeast; 3rd in Eastern Confrence) | New Jersey: 48-28-6, 102 points (4th in Atlantic; 6th in Eastern Conference)
Florida: Tomas Fleischmann (27G-31A-61PTS) | New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk (37G-46A-83PTS)
Florida: Jose Theodore (22-16-11, 2.46 GAA) or Scott Clemmensen (14-6-6, 2.57 GAA) | New Jersey: Martin Brodeur (31-21-4, 2.41 GAA)
Season series tied at 2-2
Nov. 21: At Florida 4, New Jersey 3
Dec. 13: New Jersey 3, at Florida 2, SO
Jan. 6: At New Jersey 5, Florida 2
Feb. 11: Florida 3, at New Jersey 1
Last 10 games
Florida: 2-3-5 | New Jersey: 7-2-1
New Jersey leads 1-0 (4-0 in 2000 Eastern Conference quarterfinals)
Florida: Did not qualify | New Jersey: Did not qualify
Florida: None | New Jersey: 3 (1995, 2000, 2003)
Florida: Jack Skille (shoulder) and Matt Bradley (concussion).
New Jersey: David Clarkson (lower-body), Jacob Josefson (wrist) and Henrik Tallinder (leg).
Series at a glance: Pittsburgh-Philadelphia playoff preview
Wednesday April 11 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Friday April 13 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
Sunday April 15 in Philadelphia @ 3 p.m. (NBC, TSN)
Wednesday April 18 in Philadelphia @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Friday April 20 in Pittsburgh @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, TSN)
*Sunday April 22 in Philadelphia @ TBD (TBD)
*Tuesday April 24 in Pittsburgh @ TBD (TBD)
Three (actually, four) storylines to follow
1. The health question. Oddly enough, after a season full of injury woes for the Penguins (Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, and others), it’s Philly that’s banged up the worst. Ilya Bryzgalov has a sore foot. Danny Briere’s out indefinitely. Nicklas Grossman has a lower-body injury. JVR is on the shelf. Ditto for Andrej Meszaros. And of course we all know Chris Pronger is out with a concussion.
2. Deja vu in net? Speaking of Bryzgalov, are the Flyers really that committed to the possibly injured philosopher of the universe? Or will they have another humongous goaltending yo-yo nightmare on their hands? This might not be an easy tiger to wrestle with. (Sorry, re-watched 24/7 recently.)
3. Comfy Consol. The Penguins seem to have a case of “new building syndrome” when it comes to hosting the Flyers. It’s a modern sporting phenomenon, where a team gets a shiny new arena that’s inviting to all, including its opponents. (Just ask Scott Hartnell where he’d rather play.) Philly’s lost exactly one game in six at Consol Energy Center during its first two seasons, and that was Saturday’s meaningless contest.
4. Jagr’s revenge? – OK, cheating by adding a “bonus” storyline here, but one has to mention Jaromir Jagr taking on his former team in the playoffs after breaking a few hearts this summer. Sure, he played against Pittsburgh in his last run in the league with the New York Rangers, yet the (ultimately failed) courting process should make this another fun story to follow.
Pittsburgh: 51-25-6, 108 points (2nd in Atlantic; 4th in Eastern Conference) | Philadelphia: 47-26-9, 103 points (3rd in Atlantic; 5th in Eastern Conference)
Pittsburgh: Evgeni Malkin (50G-59A-109PTS) | Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (28G-65A-93PTS)
Philadelphia won series 4-2
Dec. 8: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2
Dec. 29: Philadelphia 4, at Pittsburgh 2
Feb. 18: Pittsburgh 6, at Philadelphia 4
March 18: At Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 2, OT
April 1: Philadelphia 6, at Pittsburgh 4
April 7: At Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 2
Last 10 games
Pittsburgh: 6-4-0 | Philadelphia: 5-4-1
Philadelphia leads 3-2
1989: Philadelphia 4-3 (Patrick Division finals)
1997: Philadelphia 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)
2000: Philadelphia 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)
2008: Pittsburgh 4-1 (Eastern Conference finals)
2009: Pittsburgh 4-2 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)
Pittsburgh: Lost to Tampa 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals) | Philadelphia: Def. Buffalo 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); lost to Boston 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)