After a wild night in the NBA playoffs on Wednesday, the daily sports focus shifts to a heavy NHL night on Thursday. The hockey playoffs will feature a nationally televised tripleheader, with the prospect of one team advancing to the conference finals, and both last year’s champs and this year’s favorite facing big games.
NBC Sports Network carries two of the games, and coverage starts at 8 PM ET with Chicago-Detroit. The Blackhawks are a slight betting line favorite to win this year’s Stanley Cup, but after falling behind the Red Wings 2-1 in games, Chicago now faces a big test in Game 4 from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit tonight.
Then the action shifts west, where the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings had appeared to be in control of their series against the San Jose Sharks. That was before the Sharks grabbed two wins on home ice and knotted the series up 2-2. The pivotal Game 5 goes tonight in SoCal and puck drop is approximately 10:30 PM ET.
Boston is the team that has a chance to advance tonight, with a 3-0 series lead on the New York Rangers, and Game 4 from Madison Square Garden is at 7 PM ET. Another branch-off of the NBC family will have this game and you can find it on CNBC.
The Bruins-Rangers game is one half of a night that has Boston sports getting prominence. MLB Network will show most of the country the Red Sox-Indians game from Fenway at 7 PM ET. The Sox are in hot pursuit of the Yanks in the AL East, the Indians are the surprise of the American League as they lead the Central Division…and, oh yeah, it’s Terry Francona’s return to the Fens for the first time since the front office scapegoated him after the 2011 collapse and then tried to slander him on his way out the door.
Expect a big ovation from the Fenway crowd for Tito, and expect me—a Sox fan myself—to be joining in that ovation from the comfort of my living room (well, in delayed time anyway, because the Bruins will be the game I watch live, with the Sox saved for the DVR).
It’s otherwise a light card for baseball, with only five games going today. Portions of the country will get Detroit-Minnesota on MLB Network. The NBA playoffs are off today. The Memphis-San Antonio series in the West already has two games in, and Miami and Indiana will catch up on Friday.
Here at TheSportsNotebook will have more MLB coverage today. The last two days have been filled with All-Star & award leaders for both the American League and National League. Today we’ll have more coverage in the AL, with the topic still TBD. Our NHL analysis, with updated reviews of all four second-round series will get a fresh installment tomorrow, and Saturday morning will see a new edition of NBA commentary, with a breakdown of the first two games in each conference finals matchup.