Patrick Sharp has the puck in the offensive zone in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit.
With each drop of the puck, the Stanley Cup playoffs become more intense. With each bone-crushing hit, the postseason tournament becomes more physical and downright nasty. This weekend’s slate of games will be no different.
Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles will each look to take an early 2-0 lead in their respective series, while the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins will fight to the finish in their best-of-seven bout.
Here’s a breakdown of this weekend’s games.
Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh, Game 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Despite being outshot, Pittsburgh cruised to a 4-1 victory over Ottawa in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“We know it’s a good start, but it’s just like the rest of the playoffs we know it’s just the start,” Pittsburgh forward Jarome Iginla said, according to ESPN.com.
Pittsburgh couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
The Penguins received power-play goals from Paul Martin and Chris Kunitz to up their man-advantage conversion rate to 36 percent.
Consequently, the Senators were 0-for-5 on the man advantage, a trend that must change if they want to take down the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn't hurt to put a stop to the Penguins' dangerous power play, either.
“Their power play is good,” Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson said, courtesy of ESPN.com. “We knew that going in and if we want to have [a] good chance to win a game we’re going to have to shoot down their special teams. It’s huge for them. If we’re able to kill those off, it’s a different game.”
If Ottawa keeps allowing Pittsburgh to capitalize on the power play, this will be a short-lived series.
Detroit vs. Chicago, Game 2, 1 p.m. ET, NBC
With the score nodded at 1-1 heading into the third period, Chicago’s offense took control, lighting the lamp three times in the final 11 minutes of the game en route to an early lead in the series.
Which Western Conference team will reach the Stanley Cup Final?
“Much better from our prior series,” Chicago coach Joel Quennevill said, courtesy of ESPN.com. “I thought what we we’re talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I though everybody contributed.”
On the other hand, the Red Wings seemed stuck in cement. The Blackhawks forwards were too fast, too skilled for them to handle.
That must change in Game 2 if the men from Hockeytown want to remain relevant in this series.
After going 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 1, Detroit must cash in on such opportunities in Game 2. They cannot allow the Blackhawks to dominate them. Controlling the ice, boards and the neutral zone will be key.
Los Angeles vs. San Jose, Game 2, 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN
The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings won their fifth straight playoff game and took a 1-0 lead against San Jose in the Western Conference semifinals.
Behind goals from Slava Voynov and Mike Richards, Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped all 35 San Jose shots thrown his way.
“We wanted to get off on a good foot, no matter how we had to do it,” Quick said, courtesy of ESPN.com.
The Kings did just that.
Now, it’s up to the Sharks to answer the bell. It will be vital for the Sharks to be perfect in all facets of their game. They must create space in open ice and pressure the Kings defense in Game 2 of this series.
New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins, Game 2, 3 p.m. ET, NBC
Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa, Game 3, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
I will update the two Sunday games when information becomes available.