A pair of Game 6s hit the ice tonight with the road teams in positions to end the series. As we’ve seen throughout the playoffs, the road teams are doing obscenely well and making that whole “home ice advantage” thing seem like a cruel joke. With tonight’s games, particular attention will be paid to the goaltenders. We’ll be curious to see how Pittsburgh bounces back after an 8-2 thrashing and how Antti Niemi responds after giving up three goals in four shots in Game 5 is worth paying attention to. All times listed are Eastern.
Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay – 7 p.m. (Versus) – Pittsburgh leads series 3-2
If Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne did indeed find their offensive touch after Game 5’s 8-2 whooping, things get instantly scary for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been able to keep those guys off the sheet most of the series while still having their hands full with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. Pittsburgh’s been defensively strong but trying to wrangle all four of those guys while they’re hot could really stretch their defense too far. One thing that could get Pittsburgh to not have to worry about anything would be to get their power play clicking. The Penguins have scored on 4% of their power plays in this series. We know they miss Sidney Crosby, but this is when guys like Jordan Staal, James Neal, and Alex Kovalev have to be better.
San Jose @ Los Angeles – 10 p.m. (Versus) – San Jose leads series 3-2
If there’s a team that perhaps no one is really giving a chance of winning their first round series it’s L.A. Aside from Jon Quick’s shutout in Game 2 and his 51 save effort in Game 5, he’s been below average in net. For all the shouting going on around San Jose’s Antti Niemi, there’s been no such talk around Quick. Without that cloud of doubt, does Quick have it in him again to stand on his head? We’ll find out. Los Angeles could certainly stand to defend their home ice as it’s been nothing but a horror show for them at Staples Center. With that kind of recent history, you have to think San Jose’s feeling awfully comfortable playing there. It’ll be up to L.A. to make them uncomfortable. Jumping out early might be all it takes.