The saying goes that the hardest game to win in a playoff series is the closeout game, but don’t overlook the critical Game 5s when a series is tied up at two games apiece.
Hockey fans will be treated to both types of contests Monday night, as the NHL playoffs roll on with a clash between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens and a tilt between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
Here is a look at Monday’s entire schedule with corresponding broadcast information.
|2014 NHL Playoffs: Monday Schedule|
|Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens||3-2 (Boston)||7:30 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
|Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks||2-2||10 p.m.||NBC Sports Network|
An updated bracket for all the postseason action can be found right here.
Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, Game 6
We have seen this situation before.
In 2011, Montreal trailed Boston 3-2 in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs but had an important Game 6 on its home ice. All it did was take advantage of the raucous crowd and hand the Bruins a loss, although that was eventually canceled out by an overtime Boston victory in Game 7.
Bruins forward Jarome Iginla knows it will be an intense atmosphere once again this time around, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com: “We expect that we are going to have to play our best game yet. We know that they are going to try to use their crowd, and we are most likely going to need our best game of the series.”
The defending Eastern Conference champions may hold a narrow 3-2 edge in this series, but they have been tested, with two of the five contests heading to overtime.
The Canadiens have been dominant in the postseason when scoring first, and with the extra energy from the crowd, it will do just that again. Look for Montreal to seize that early lead and then slowly stifle any subsequent Boston offensive attacks.
Just like 2011, this one is going the full seven.
Prediction: Montreal 3, Boston 1
Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks, Game 5
There is an incredibly interesting subplot in this battle, as the Anaheim Ducks will start rookie goalie John Gibson in the net again after he made 28 saves in his playoff debut and led his squad to a 2-0 victory in Game 4. Whether he can repeat his performance or not will go a long way toward determining which team advances and which doesn’t.
Having a hot goalie is one thing, but we are talking about a one-game sample size. The Kings offense will get back on track in Game 5 after being held scoreless in the previous contest.
What’s more, Anaheim is dealing with some injury concerns in Matt Beleskey and Mathieu Perreault.
The home ice will certainly help the Ducks, but Los Angeles will find a way to persevere against the rookie goalkeeper.
Prediction: Los Angeles 4, Anaheim 3