Predicting Winners for Tuesday's 2nd-Round NHL Playoff Games
The conference semifinal round of the playoffs is starting to take shape.
The New York Rangers have received their wake-up call after dropping the first two games in Boston. They are now returning home to Madison Square Garden and will attempt to get back in the series. The Rangers will try to show the Bruins that they are not going to simply cruise into the Eastern Conference Final.
The San Jose Sharks were quite serious in Game 3 of their series with the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night. They dominated the Kings from start to finish, but a stellar game from Jonathan Quick forced the game into overtime.
The Kings had a six-game winning streak and an opportunity to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, but Logan Couture ended the game for the Sharks with a shot over Quick's shoulder.
The Rangers will try to get their first win of the series on home ice, while the Sharks will try to square the series Tuesday night.
Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Where Series Stands: Boston won the first two games on home ice and leads the series 2-0.
Boston Strengths: The Bruins have size, strength and talent going for them. Defenseman Zdeno Chara is a tower of strength on the blue line with his ability to shut down opposing skaters. He also activates Boston's attack with his passing and big shot.
Patrice Bergeron is one of the most complete players in the league. He is dominant in the faceoff circle, plays stellar defense and is an underrated offensive player. Tuukka Rask is solid in goal.
New York Strengths: Henrik Lundqvist may not have had his best effort in Game 2, as he gave up five goals, but he is the best goalie in the league. Ryan Callahan is a maximum-effort player who has the ability to turn a game around with his speed and intelligence.
The Rangers have a very active and aggressive defense capable of blocking shots and shutting down opponents.
Boston X-factor: Rookie defenseman Torey Krug was called up by the Bruins after the team suffered a slew of injuries on the blue line, and he posted goals in the first two games of the series.
New York X-factor: Star forward Rick Nash scored his first goal of the postseason in Game 2, and he could become an impact player now that he has broken the ice.
Boston road playoff record: 2-1
New York home playoff record: 3-0
Prediction: The Bruins are rolling, and they have found a way to score key goals on Lundqvist. They go into Madison Square Garden with as much confidence as they have had all year. However, the Rangers are not going to roll over.
The Rangers will absorb all of the Bruins' big hits and best shots, and the game will be even through two periods. New York will play with desperation and determination in the final period, and it will get two goals to win the game 4-2.
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
Where Series Stands: The home team has won the first three games of the series. The Kings lead 2-1.
Los Angeles Strengths: The Kings know that Jonathan Quick is going to keep them in any game. They were badly out-skated in Game 3, yet, they went to overtime because Quick refused to yield anything to the Sharks.
Mike Richards is a tough and determined playmaker who has a team-high eight points, while defenseman Slava Voynov can activate the offense from the blue line and has a big shot.
San Jose Strengths: Antti Niemi does not get the same kind of consideration as Henrik Lundqvist or Jonathan Quick, but he is solid in goal and can be spectacular.
Logan Couture showed his worth when he returned after suffering a painful ankle injury in Game 3 to score the winner in overtime. Defenseman Dan Boyle has a booming shot from the blue line and is one of head coach Todd McLellan's most dependable players.
Los Angeles X-factor: The Kings were crying foul after officials' calls left them down two men in overtime. While they survived the two-man disadvantage, the Sharks scored on the standard power play that followed to get their first win in the series.
Los Angeles needs to put the calls and the loss behind it and get back to business. Anze Kopitar must play like a superstar, not a role player.
San Jose X-factor: The Sharks are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL playoffs. They are not looked at as a serious contender because they have tried and failed so many times.
The lack of respect card is often overplayed in sports, but it applies to San Jose. It has a chance to upgrade its reputation by beating the Kings.
Los Angeles road playoff record: 1-3
San Jose home playoff record: 3-0
Prediction: The Sharks bounced back after a disastrous finish in Game 2 in Los Angeles. They took it to the Kings and outplayed them completely, but they needed overtime to win the game.
Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter won't let the Kings put forth that kind of effort again. The Sharks start fast, but the Kings take over in the latter half of the game and bring home a 3-1 win.