Die hard and casual hockey fans alike will tell you nothing in sports beats playoff hockey, and after the opening weekend of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that statement still rings to be true, and then some.
The first 19 games of the National Hockey League’s second season have been some of the most entertaining hockey in a long time. It’s hard to remember a better start to the playoffs then the one we have witnessed thus far.
Let’s take a quick look at what’s going on around the league.
(1) New York Rangers and (8) Ottawa Senators tied 1-1
Chris Neil scored 1:17 into overtime Saturday night in New York as his Senators tied the series up at one. Game three is tomorrow night in Ottawa. The Rangers jumped out to a quick 1-0 series lead after a 4-2 win in Game 1. The Rangers will be without forward Carl Hagelin who was suspended for three games following an elbow to the head on Senators Captain Daniel Alfredsson who did not return after the hit. The Sens will be without forward Matt Carkner who will be suspended for Game 3 after “continuing to inflict punishment upon an opponent who was an unwilling combatant in an altercation” with Brian Boyle during their Game 2 win.
(2) Boston Bruins and (7) Washington Capitals tied 1-1
After back-to-back overtime games—one in double overtime—the Washington Capitals find themselves tied in the series at one with the defending Stanley Cup Champions as they host Game 3 in Washington tonight. Rookie goalie Braden Holtby has been phenomenal for the Capitals as he’s allowed just two goals in two games. The same can be said for the reigning Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas who has also allowed just two goals in the first two games.
(3) Florida Panthers and (6) New Jersey Devils tied 1-1
Last night the Panthers were able to hold off a third period rally be the Devils to win Game 2 by a score of 4-2 and tie the series up at one. The win was the Panthers first playoff win since 1997. Stephen Weiss was the hero for the Panthers last night as he scored twice for Florida.
(5) Philadelphia Flyers lead (4) Pittsburgh Penguins
This series has had everything you can think of, and then some. Game 1 saw the Flyers erase a 3-0 deficit en route to a 4-3 overtime victory. Game 2 saw 13 combined goals as the Flyers took another victory from the Pens in Pittsburgh. Game 3, a must win for the Penguins resulted in 158 penalty minutes and another big win for the Flyers, this time by ways of a 8-4 victory. Things could get worse for Pittsburgh as forward James Neal may be suspended for his actions in game 3. Neal has two separate hearings tomorrow. The high-flying-forward is not the only Penguins player meeting with Brendan Shanahan as Arron Ashem will have a hearing as well.
(8) L.A. Kings lead (1) Vancouver Canucks 3-0
In the series out west that Bruins fans are paying attention to most the Kings have jumped out to a unexpected 3-0 lead over the defending Western Conference Champions. Jonathan Quick made 34 saves and Dustin Brown scored the only goal of the game last night in Los Angeles as the Kings took Game 3 1-0. After allowing eight goals in the Canucks first two games, Boston College alum Cory Schneider got the start for the Canucks. Game 4 is slated for Wednesday night.
(2) ST. Louis Blues and (7) San Jose Sharks tied 1-1
The Blues bounced back after dropping Game 1 in Overtime with a 3-0 shutout of the Sharks in Game 2. Jaroslav Halak got the start for the Blues, but had to leave the game after a collision with teammate Barret Jackman. Brian Elliot replaced Halak and stopped all 12 shots he saw to secure the shutout. The Sharks will host Game 3 in San Jose this evening.
(3) Phoenix Coyotes and (6) Chicago Blackhawks tied 1-1
Another series that has seen two overtime games is knotted up at one. Martin Hanzal in Game 1 and Bryan Bickell in Game 2 have been the overtime goal scorers. The Coyotes took a bit of a hit in their Game 2 loss as Game 1 hero Hanzal limped off the ice early in the first period and did not return after that. Forward Antoine Vermette has been huge for the Yotes with three goals in the series.
(4) Predators lead (5) Detroit Red Wings 2-1
The two high-powered teams have alternated wins with the most recent victory coming from the Predators yesterday 3-2 in Detroit. Pekka Rinne was great as usual stopping 41 shots. After his actions in Game 1, Shea Weber has been the Red Wings number one enemy, but the Preds Captain has answered the hate with two goals including the opening goal in Game 1.