As the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs roll on, it's become increasingly clear that the most important position in all of sports is goalie. All of the teams leading the conference semifinals have gotten fantastic performances from the netminder.
What makes this trend so unique is that the goalies performing the best right now aren't necessarily the ones you would equate with being superstars. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, Montreal's Carey Price and Chicago's Corey Crawford are firing on all cylinders right now, so it's no surprise those teams are leading their respective series.
Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick couldn't stop a shot in the first four games of the postseason against San Jose, allowing 19 goals on 147 shots. In five games since, he's given up five goals on 168 shots. The Kings have gone 5-0 in their last five games.
If you want to know which way a game, or series, is going to go, watch what happens in the net. Everything else will take care of itself.
We've got an updated look at the Stanley Cup bracket following Tuesday's games and what to watch for when the action resumes Wednesday.
Here's the updated 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket! Who are you cheering for? pic.twitter.com/mMAXLnnmLf— Maple Ridge Chrysler (@MapleRidgeCJD) May 1, 2014
NHL Playoff TV Schedule
|Date||Matchup||Start Time (ET)||Network|
|Wed., May 7||Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers (Penguins lead 2-1)||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Thu., May 8||Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens (Canadiens lead 2-1)||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Thu., May 8||Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (Kings lead 2-0)||10 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Fri., May 9||New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins (Penguins lead 2-1)||7 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Fri., May 9||Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild (Blackhawks lead 2-1)||9:30 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
What to Watch Wednesday
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers
Which player is key to Game 3 of the Penguins-Rangers series?
It's fitting that the only game on Wednesday's schedule features the Penguins and Rangers. Pittsburgh's greatness is starting to shine through.
Specifically, Sidney Crosby is finding his game after a slow start to the postseason. He ended a 13-game playoff goalless streak in Pittsburgh's Game 3 win to give the Penguins a 2-1 series lead.
The bigger story in this series than Crosby, though, has been the ineptitude of New York's offense. New York wasn't an offensive dynamo in the regular season but scored enough to let the brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist shine through.
Now, Alain Vigneault's group looks lost with the puck. Fleury has been much maligned throughout his career, yet Jesse Spector of SportingNews.com made the astute observation that even the haters have to silence themselves right now.
The staff at the Marc-Andre Fleury Joke Warehouse is beginning to worry about building up too big of a surplus.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) May 6, 2014
You have to give Fleury credit where it's due, but the Rangers are certainly making things easy. The power play has been especially problematic, the Rangers failing to convert on their last 34 opportunities with a man advantage.
The Rangers need to find a way to take advantage of any scoring chance, whether it's at full strength or the power play. Rick Nash has been invisible in the postseason, which is a trend that Sean Hartnett of CBS New York noted after Game 2.
The Rangers’ top line of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis disappeared in Game 2. Collectively, the trio registered just five shots on goal despite logging heavy minutes on the power play...
Nash now has one goal in 21 playoff games as a Ranger. He’s going to need to light the lamp sooner rather than later or face a backlash.
No one expects Nash to suddenly become the 40-goal scorer he was in Columbus, but the 29-year-old has to show a pulse for New York to keep up with a better, more talented Pittsburgh team.
Lundqvist has given the Rangers a chance to win all three games, so it won't take much for New York to get back in this series.
Of course, if Crosby is going to start scoring and dominating on the front line, there won't be any hope for the Rangers regardless of how well Lundqvist plays.
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