playoff preview

Jeremy Roenick

Video: Roenick previews Saturday contests

2 Comments

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:

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Series at a glance: Florida-New Jersey playoff preview

Tomas Kopecky, Anton Volchenkov
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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

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.

Records

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)

Leading scorers

Florida: Tomas Fleischmann (27G-31A-61PTS) | New Jersey: Ilya Kovalchuk (37G-46A-83PTS)

Starting goalies

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)

Head-to-head

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

Playoff history

New Jersey leads 1-0 (4-0 in 2000 Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Florida: Did not qualify | New Jersey: Did not qualify

Stanley Cups

Florida: None | New Jersey: 3 (1995, 2000, 2003)

Injuries

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

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 18: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Philadelphia Flyers battles in the corner with Zbynek Michalek #4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 18, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers went on to defeat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

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.

Records

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)

Leading scorers

Pittsburgh: Evgeni Malkin (50G-59A-109PTS) | Philadelphia: Claude Giroux (28G-65A-93PTS)

Starting goalies

Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury (42-17-4, 2.36 GAA) | Philadelphia: Ilya Bryzgalov (33-16-7, 2.48 GAA)

Head-to-head

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

Playoff history

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)

2011 playoffs

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)

Stanley Cups

Pittsburgh: 3 (1991, 1992, 2009) | Philadelphia: 2 (1974, 1975)

Injuries

Pittsburgh: James Neal (lower-body), Matt Niskanen (upper-body), Steve Sullivan (lower-body) and Ben Lovejoy (knee).

Philadelphia: Danny Briere (back), Nicklas Grossmann (lower-body), James van Riemsdyk (foot), Tom Sestito (groin), Andrej Meszaros (lower-body), Chris Pronger (concussion) and Blair Betts (knee).

Series at a glance: Boston-Washington playoff preview

Tim Thomas, Alexander Semin
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Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Thursday April 12 in Boston @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Saturday April 14 in Boston @ 3 p.m. (NBC, CBC)
Monday April 16 in Washington @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Thursday April 19 in Washington @ 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Saturday April 21 in Boston @ 3 p.m. (NBC, CBC)
*Sunday April 22 in Washington @ TBD (TBD)
*Wednesday April 25 in Boston @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Help for Ovechkin. For all the talk about Alex Ovechkin’s struggling in the clutch, he’s been red-hot lately. In fact, he almost surged to 40 goals (finished with 38) and came through when Washington needed him most. With Zdeno Chara in tow, the Bruins likely have at least a chance of slowing Ovi down, so can the rest of the Capitals — including possibly-not-100 percent-guys like Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom — step up when needed?

2. Goaltending disparity. Tim Thomas, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, has shown he can win a series almost single-handedly. Meanwhile, the Capitals are rolling with an inexperienced (and banged-up) No. 2 in Michal Neuvirth and/or a well-loved but green No. 3 in Braden Holtby. On paper, that’s a pretty big advantage for Boston.

3. Road woes. When you look at Washington’s numbers, its woeful road record of 16-21-4 jumps out more than anything else. Can they fight through some trying times in front of Boston’s fans or fold when things get tough?

Records

Boston: 49-29-4, 102 points (1st in Atlantic; 2nd in Eastern Conference) | Washington: 42-32-8, 92 points (2nd in Southeast; 7th in Eastern Conference)

Leading scorers

Boston: Tyler Seguin (29G-38A-67PTS) | Washington: Alex Ovechkin (38G-27A-65PTS)

Starting goalies

Boston: Tim Thomas (35-19-1, 2.36 GAA) | Washington: Michal Neuvirth (13-13-15, 2.82 GAA) or Braden Holtby (4-2-1, 2.50 GAA)

Head-to-head

Washington won series 3-1
Jan. 24: At Washington 5, Boston 3
Feb. 5: Boston 4, at Washington 1
March 10: Washington 4, at Boston 3
March 29: Washington 3, at Boston 2, SO

Last 10 games

Boston: 7-2-1 | Washington: 6-2-2

Playoff history

Series tied 1-1
1990: Boston 4-0 (Wales Conference finals)
1998: Washington 4-2 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals)

2011 playoffs

Boston: Def. Montreal 4-3 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); def. Philadelphia 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals), def. Tampa Bay 4-3 (Eastern Conference finals); def. Vancouver 4-3 (Stanley Cup finals) | Washington: Def. NY Rangers 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals); lost to Tampa Bay 4-0 (Eastern Conference semifinals)

Stanley Cups

Boston: 6 (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011) | Washington: None

Injuries

Boston: Adam McQuaid (eye), Johnny Boychuk (knee), Tuukka Rask (groin) and Nathan Horton (concussion). (You may count Marc Savard’s concussion, too.)

Washington: Michal Neuvirth (leg), Tomas Vokoun (lower body), John Erskine (lower body) and Tom Poti (groin).

Series at a glance: NY Rangers-Ottawa playoff preview

Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers
16 Comments

Schedule

All times are Eastern.

* – if necessary

Thursday April 12 in New York @ 7 p.m. (NHL Network, CBC)
Saturday April 14 in New York @ 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
Monday April 16 in Ottawa @ 7:30 p.m. (CNBC, CBC)
Wednesday April 18 in Ottawa @ 7:30 p.m. (CNBC, CBC)
*Saturday April 21 in New York @ 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network, CBC)
*Monday April 23 in Ottawa @ TBD (TBD)
*Thursday April 26 in New York @ TBD (TBD)

Three storylines to follow

1. Is Henrik Lundqvist going to be his Vezina-caliber self? For years, Lundqvist carried an inferior team to playoff berths and then wore down once the postseason rolled around. There’s a much better team in front of him and he’s as well-rested as he’s ever been in April, but his late-season injury and shaky tune-up game against Washington could be cause for concern.

2. Ottawa’s kiddie corps. Jared Cowen, Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno, Colin Greening and Erik Condra are all 25 or younger and have almost no playoff experience to speak of (Foligno leads all, with 10 games.) How will they stack up against a well-coached, experienced and hard-nosed No. 1 seed?

3. Strength vs. strength: The Rangers are better than they’ve been in a long time on offense, but their identity still revolves around stout defense, all-world goaltending and relentless effort. Could an explosive Ottawa offense create just enough havoc to throw a balanced Rangers team … out of balance?

Records

NY Rangers: 51-24-7, 109 points (1st in Atlantic; 1st in Eastern Conference) | Ottawa: 41-31-10, 92 points (2nd in Northeast; 8th in Eastern Conference)

Leading scorers

NY Rangers: Marian Gaborik (41G-35A-76PTS) | Ottawa: Jason Spezza (34G-50A-84PTS)

Starting goalies

NY Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist (39-18-5, 1.97 GAA) | Ottawa: Craig Anderson (33-22-6, 2.83 GAA)

Head-to-head

Ottawa won series 3-1
Oct. 29: Ottawa 5, at NY Rangers 4, SO
Nov. 9: NY Rangers 3, at Ottawa 2
Jan. 12: Ottawa 3, at NY Rangers 0
March 8: At Ottawa 4, NY Rangers 1

Last 10 games

NY Rangers: 6-4-0 | Ottawa: 4-6-0

Playoff history

First meeting

2011 playoffs

NY Rangers: Lost to Washington 4-1 (Eastern Conference quarterfinals) | Ottawa: Did not qualify

Stanley Cups

NY Rangers: 4 (1928, 1933, 1940, 1994) | Ottawa: None

Injuries

NY Rangers: Mats Zuccarello (wrist), Steve Eminger (ankle) and Michael Sauer (concussion). (Maybe Lundqvist’s arm, too?)

Ottawa: Chris Neil (upper body) and Peter Regin (shoulder).