The NHL playoffs hit a fever pitch over the next two nights, as both Western Conference semi-finals reach Game 7. It’s San Jose-Los Angeles from tonight, and Chicago was able to force a decisive game with their win last in Detroit. You have the defending champion on the ropes in one series and one of this season’s co-favorites on the ropes in another. Both will have the home crowd behind them in Game 7. Here’s a look ahead to the next two nights…
The Blackhawks are the top-heavy favorite to win the West and a co-favorite with Pittsburgh for the Cup, and they got their second straight must-win game yesterday in Detroit. There were more than a few nervous moments—when a fluttering puck found its way past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and gave Detroit a 2-1 lead after two periods, it looked like it might not be Chicago’s year. But the Blackhawks pounded in three goals in the first ten minutes of the third period and won the game 4-3.
What Chicago has to be most encouraged by is the involvement of Marian Hossa in the offense. He’s been quiet this series, not just in terms of the bottom line, but even taking his shots on the net. Hossa scored Game 6’s first goal on the power play and had an assist in the third period barrage. Jonathan Toews continued his active involvement in the offense with two assists of his own. If Hossa is back on track along with Toews, it allows Chicago to reassert their dominance in the 5-on-5 game.
The other thing Chicago can be encouraged by is the play of Crawford. Statistically, Game 6 was fine—a 92% save rate—but not overwhelming. What I like is the fact he came back after the fluttering goal and did a great job with the season on the line. I also like the fact that he stood in against a heavy attack from Detroit—they hit him with 18 shots in the second period alone, and when you allow that it’s inevitable one is going to slip through.
What I like on Detroit’s side is precisely the fact that they got those 18 shots in a single period, they took 38 on the game and they contained Chicago to 28 attempts on the net. Jimmy Howard reverted to his inconsistent ways and had a rough night, but if the Red Wings can hold the Blackhawks under thirty shots tomorrow night, they’ve given their goalie every chance to win. Detroit is simply not as talented as Chicago between the nets—not even close, really—the best the Wings can hope for is to again create the kind of shot disparity they did in Game 6 and hope the end result works out better.
We should also note that Detroit is a veteran team that’s already won a road Game 7 in these playoffs, at Anaheim. Make no mistake—I think Chicago’s going to win, because if Crawford has the mental toughness that he showed on the road, the Blackhawks just have too many weapons—but Detroit won’t give it way. Chicago will have to take it.
LOS ANGELES-SAN JOSE
This series has been the grinding, defensive battle that’s the nightmare of the NBC network coalition televising this postseason, but it speaks well to the discipline of both these hockey teams. Once again, Game 6 saw both teams held under thirty shots, but San Jose was able to build a 2-0 lead early in the second period and then hold on for a 2-1 win.
I do a little moonlighting on the hockey website Puck Doctors, and over there I wrote that Los Angeles can feel pretty good about their defensive effort in Game 6. It’s not just that they held San Jose to minimal shots and two goals, but they kept the Sharks four best players from even taking a significant number of shots. It’s hard enough to beat Jonathan Quick with your best players, much less doing so without them. On that basis, Los Angeles can feel good about their chances in front of the home fans tonight.
But the Sharks are devouring LA’s best players as well. Jeff Carter only took two shots, and San Jose goalie Antti Niemi has the feel of one who’s getting locked in. Niemi is not as good as Quick, but the Shark netminder is still pretty good, and if he combines that with being hot, the game can then swing in the 5-on-5 game, and San Jose has more weapons.
What elevated Los Angeles in last year’s Stanley Cup run was not Quick—he was great all year, but they still ended up as the 8-seed in the West. What put them over the top was that players like Dustin Brown, Carter, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner, suddenly turned into an offensive juggernaut. Defenseman Drew Doughty suddenly turned into an offensive threat. I’m not saying Los Angeles has to recapture all of that magic—but they’ve got to at least recapture a little of it.
I picked San Jose in seven games when this series began, and I can’t fathom why I’d change my mind now.
Both Game 7s are going to be carried by the NBC Sports Network. The San Jose-Los Angeles game on Tuesday is a 9 PM ET start, with Detroit-Chicago having the puck drop at 8 PM ET tomorrow. TheSportsNotebook’s NHL analysis comes back Thursday morning. We’ll rehash these games and look ahead to the conference finals on both sides of the bracket.
Four teams are on the brink of moving into the conference finals of the NHL playoffs and to the surprise of everyone, one of them is not the Chicago Blackhawks. The Western Conference’s top seed, and co-favorite with Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup, has been pushed to the brink of elimination by the Detroit Red Wings. It’s there that we’ll begin our review of all four second-round matchups.
Detroit did everything well defensively, as they took Game 3 by a 3-1 count and Game 4 on a 2-0 shutout, to move out to a three games to one series lead. In Game 3 it was about the goaltending. Jimmy Howard played a superb game, as the talented Blackhawks offense got 40 shots, but only lit the lamp once.
Then in Game 4 it was about the defense. Chicago got a pedestrian 28 shots, and just as importantly, they got half of those in the first period. In both games, Detroit broke scoreless ties in the second period and then locked down defensively the rest of the way, whether it was Howard saving the day or the team defense just preventing Chicago from getting going.
Jonathan Toews is the only Blackhawk player who was even into the proceedings at Joe Louis Arena this week. Toews got seven shots in Game 3 and six more in Game 4. By contrast, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane were nowhere to be found. Every offensive team will have games where the opposing goalie just gets locked in and shuts them down, but that’s all the more reason you need your best players taking their cracks at the net. Chicago’s not getting that and because of it, they’re one game from elimination.
I will say this—after some shaky performances in Games 2 & 3, Chicago goalie Corey Crawford played well again in Game 4. If that’s a sign Crawford’s back on track, the fourth win will be a tough out for Detroit. If you’re a Chicago, just win on home ice in Game 5 and the pressure starts to subtly shift back the other way.
The other favorite fared a little better. In the last installment of our NHL analysis on Monday, we noted how the Penguins let Game 3 slip away and allowed Ottawa back into the series. It seemed to continue going the wrong direction for Pittsburgh in the first period of Game 4. Right on the heels of the Senators winning the third game because a shorthanded goal, they did the exact same thing to open Wednesday’s affair and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
But then the sheer power of the Pittsburgh offense finally broke down Ottawa. The Pens scored twice in the second period, thanks to two assists from defenseman Kris Letang. In the third period, the dam broke and Pittsburgh scored four times. It was the usual suspects stepping up as the game turned into a 7-3 blowout—Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, and Jarome Iginla all lit the lamp in the final period.
I picked Ottawa to win this series because of goalie Craig Anderson, but I’m having to admit that the Penguins seem to have broken the back of the man who was the league’s best goalie in the regular season and who carried his team past 2-seed Montreal in the first round. I’ll be surprised if Pittsburgh doesn’t close it out in Game 5 at home, and even more surprised if my upset pick actually comes through.
Boston took firm command of this series in Game 3 with a 2-1 win that gave them a three games to none series lead. That grip seemed to be ironclad last night when the Bruins led Game 4 2-0 and 3-2, before letting New York tie it both times and eventually win in overtime. Boston continues to get significantly more shots on the net than New York, and the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin is getting going offensively after being dormant for much of the playoffs. Seguin got a number of good shots in both games at Madison Square Garden, and scored what looked like it might be the game-winner last night with the game tied 2-2.
But New York has to be feeling good themselves. The Ranger power play had been so dormant that we should issue an apology to the word “dormant” for even using the two in the same sentence. But it was a power play goal that tied the game. Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan combined for nine shots—not a huge number, but enough to suggest that New York’s best offensive players are getting active.
These two cities have a certain history with series that go to 3-0—the 2004 American League Championship Series, and those echoes were awakened in the NBA playoffs when the Celtics threw a scare into the Knicks. I know the Bruins still have this series in hand on the surface, but those blown leads last night seem an awful lot like the Yankees losing Game 4 in ’04 after having the lead in the ninth inning with Mariano Rivera on the mound. How many New York fans that night (or early morning as the case was) just said words to the effect of “Forget it, we’ve got three more chances.” Who knows, maybe Game 4 in the Bruins-Rangers battle was Boston’s best chance to clinch and they blew it.
LOS ANGELES-SAN JOSE
The one series that’s got five games under its belt sees the Kings with a 3-2 series lead. San Jose had grabbed Game 4 on home ice in a tough 2-1 battle. The Sharks led two-zip in the third period and then went into a defensive shell. They only took two shots in the third period, while the Kings assaulted Antti Niemi for 14 shots in the final period alone. Los Angeles scored once, but San Jose hung on.
But the Los Angeles defense, backed up by Jonathan Quick in the net, took over Game 5 back in SoCal. This has been a defense-oriented series and both teams are usually coming in under 30 shots for the game. It was the same in Game 5, and Quick turned them all back. The Kings got a goal from Anze Kopitar in the first, moved ahead 2-0 early in the third and then added an empty net goal to clinch.
San Jose is doing a very good job in this series of making sure its best players are the ones taking the shots. Logan Couture took five cracks at the net in Game 4 and scored a goal, and even in the Game 5 whitewashing, the quartet of Couture, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau took close to half the team’s shots. It’s why I’ll give the Sharks the benefit of the doubt and stick with my original pick of them to win this series in seven games. But Quick is enough to scare the hell out of anyone, when he only needs one unbeatable game to lock up a series.
Pittsburgh goes for the clinch tonight against Ottawa at 7:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. Then the same network has a Saturday doubleheader starting in the late afternoon. The Rangers try and keep alive at Boston Garden starting at 5:30 PM ET, and that’s followed by Detroit-Chicago at 8 PM ET.
TheSportsNotebook’s NHL analysis will come back on Sunday morning. By that point all the series will be on equal footing, through five games. We’ll either look ahead to the coming Game 6s, or do a conference finals preview, pending the outcomes the next couple days.
The Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings have served notice they won’t go quietly, nor passively accept their roles as sacrificial lambs for the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks. Each underdog got badly needed wins over the weekend, as TheSportsNotebook reviews all four second-round series…
Pittsburgh had come out smoking in Game 2 and looked ready to put the series away. Playing on their home ice, the Penguins outshot the Senators 42-22, with an 18-7 margin in the first period alone. It was the elite players—Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla taking a good chunk of the shots, and Crosby lit it up with two first period goals and then completed an early hat trick in the second period. When Pittsburgh hung on for the 4-3 win, there was little reason to think Ottawa could turn it around.
But turn it around is what the Senators did yesterday on home ice. Craig Anderson came up with a huge game in goal, saving 49 of 50 shots. This is an enormous, clutch-level performance under any circumstances, but even more so when a team with as much offensive talent as Pittsburgh is the one taking all those shots. Even so, Ottawa trailed 1-0 and was down to its final half-minute, when Daniel Alfreddson scored a shorthanded goal, the game went to double overtime where Ottawa finally won it.
If you’re a Pittsburgh fan, you still feel good about the fact that you’re up 2-1 for the series. And even though you lost Game 3, goaltender Tomas Vokoun got back into his hot streak. Vokoun’s strong play off the bench had been briefly interrupted in Game 2 when, in spite of the Pens only allowing twenty shots to a team with mediocre offensive talent, Vokoun allowed Ottawa to shoot their way back in the game.
But if you’re an Ottawa fan you know you stared a loss that would have been close to death in the face and lived to tell about it. You know the crowd is going to rock on Wednesday night when this series resumes. And you know that Anderson can lift you to a win against a team with vastly more talent at every other spot on the ice. It doesn’t take a lot to turn momentum in any sport, and Ottawa will at least have the wind at their back going into a big Game 4.
Chicago started Game 2 the same way they ended Game 1, when the Blackhawks took the opener with a three-goal flurry in the third period. Chicago was attacking early, had the momentum and Patrick Kane lit the lamp for a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. But if you want to talk about momentum, nothing shuts it down in any sport faster than defense and that’s what Detroit brought to the table on Saturday. Chicago only got twenty shots for the game and didn’t score again. The Red Wings got goals from four different players, with the common thread being the passing game of Henrik Zetterberg, who had two assists.
This series now goes back to Motown and what’s sure to be a noisy Joe Louis Arena, for games on Mondayand Thursday. I won’t say this is Chicago’s nightmare scenario—losing one game on your home ice isn’t the end of the world. But Detroit’s being able to steal a win on the road does make this the first real test the Blackhawks have faced in the postseason. Furthermore, Corey Crawford showed the weakness in goal that I’ve been wondering about. Crawford was a liability in last year’s playoffs, before delivering a great regular season performance and then easily handling a non-test from the Minnesota Wild. The Red Wings beat him four times on Saturday with just thirty shots. For right now, I’m still giving Crawford the benefit of the doubt and saying it was just one bad game. But like his team, he’s going to feel some heat the next two games.
LOS ANGELES-SAN JOSE
I suppose we can add San Jose to the list of teams who won’t go quietly, although I don’t that the Sharks’ chances in this series were as lightly regarded as either Ottawa’s or Detroit’s. But San Jose was in a 2-0 series hole when they ground out a 2-1 overtime in win Game 3 to tighten the series back up.
San Jose used a formula that’s very difficult to execute, but can work—they simply outshot Los Angeles by a lot, 40-27. Antti Niemi, the Sharks goalie is pretty good, but he’s not in Jonathan Quick’s class. If the shots are even, both in terms of volume and the quality of the players taking them, there would be no reason to expect San Jose to win. But the Sharks not only got a lot of chances, it was good offensive threats like Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau taking their whacks at the net. Other than Jeff Carter, Los Angeles doesn’t have comparable answers on their own front line.
Maintaining this kind of short margin is difficult, but it’s not impossible—and if Niemi were truly terrible, it still wouldn’t be enough. But he’s not, he just needs some help going up against Quick. San Jose tries to even this series up in Game 4, and the teams are back in Los Angeles on Thursday for Game 5.
A theme of the first three series has been teams who won’t go quietly. An objective journalist would call the New York Rangers the exception to that rule and say that on Sunday afternoon in Boston Garden, they looked like the team that will go quietly, losing 5-2 and falling behind in the series two games to none. Except that the author of this particular piece is no objective journalist, but a raving Bruins’ fan who refuses to do anything that might be construed as a jinx, a reverse jinx or any of the nonsense that we fans talk ourselves into thinking affects the game.
On a more serious note though, New York looked awful. The 37-32 shot advantage enjoyed by the Rangers doesn’t tell the story of how bad goalie Henrik Lundqvist was, or how bad the New York power play was—not only did they blow five chances with the man advantage (while Boston had just one), the Rangers never looked remotely ready to score in these situations. They got goals from Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash on great individual one-on-one plays, but nothing that looked like it might be the result of good schematics.
Boston was able to win by doing what they do best—superior execution in the 5-on-5 game and superior balance. Five different players scored, with centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each having two assists.
Both teams have been here before though—the Rangers were in a 2-0 series hole against Washington in the first round, and returned home to win two games and eventually the series. Boston had a 3-1 series lead on Toronto, before requiring a historic comeback to win Game 7. We’ll find out Tuesday night in MSG if this was just one exceptionally poor game for the Rangers, or a sign of something deeper.
The next portion of the playoff schedule will stretch out over four nights and get us to a point where each series will be through four games, and Los Angeles-San Jose having Game 5 under their belt. Here’s the sked…
Chicago-Detroit (7:30 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
Boston-NY Rangers (7:30 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
Los Angeles-San Jose (10 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
Pittsburgh-Ottawa (7:30 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
Boston-NY Rangers (7 PM ET, CNBC)
Chicago-Detroit (8 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
San Jose-Los Angeles (10:30 PM ET, NBC Sports Network)
TheSportsNotebook’s NHL analysis will come back on Friday to assess how each series looks. It’s possible that Los Angeles & Boston could be in the conference finals by then. Furthermore, our morning daily sports feature will summarize the TV schedule for each day and integrate these games into what your other options are in TV sports.
In the meantime, please also check out our MLB coverage—this week will be highlighted by an update on who should be leading each league’s All-Star race—and NBA commentary, as the conference finals have begun.
The first round of the NHL playoffs had an incredible ending in Boston and an anticlimactic one in Washington, as a pair of Game 7s trimmed the field to eight teams. Today we’ll briefly recap yesterday’s games and then dive into previews of the four conference semi-final matchups , two of which begin tonight.
GAME 7 HISTORY
No team had ever trailed by three goals in the third period of a Game 7 and rallied to win. Until last night. In fact, not only was Boston down 4-1 in the third, that deficit persisted until about the ten-minute mark. And it was still 4-2 with less than 90 seconds in the season. Once the Bruins emptied the net and played with the extra man, they got two goals in a matter of 31 seconds and then won in overtime.
For both goaltenders, James Riemer for Toronto and Tuuka Raask for Boston, it was a best of times/worst of times kind of game. Neither team got a high number of shots—35 for Boston, 28 for Toronto, yet the teams scored a combined nine goals. On the flip side, both goalies made several spectacular saves and were often victimized by the failure of their teams to clean up the rebounds. But on the flip of the flip side, Riemer and Rask both have work to go in making saves cleanly with the glove and preventing the chaos of the rebound opportunity. These are two talented netminders with good futures, but each has some work to do over the summer. Which for Riemer, begins with right now.
Washington was a no-show in the Verizon Center last night, as the New York Rangers broke open a 1-0 game with two goals in the second period and two more in the third. Braden Holtby, so often praised in TheSportsNotebook’s NHL analysis, fell apart. And no one pulled a bigger disappearing act than Alex Ovechkin, who took only one shot with his team’s season on the line.
New York and Boston will now meet up, and with that we’ll segueway into previews of the conference semis.
Chicago-Detroit: Based on how each team played throughout the regular season and how they looked in the first round, there is no reason on earth to think the Red Wings could even win a game, much less beat the Blackhawks four times in seven tries. Chicago excels both offensively and defensively and Corey Crawford has been masterful in goal, stopping 95% of the shots that Minnesota fired at him. Detroit has no edge anywhere that can be exploited.
This assumes, however, that the statistical data of the 48-game regular season and the first round of the playoffs is the end of the story. Detroit is capable of getting more from their offense, and we got at least a glimpse of that when they hit Anaheim with three goals in the first two periods of Game 7. Henrik Zetterberg’s play has been as good as anyone in the postseason and fellow center Pavel Datsyuk is doing his usual yeoman’s work moving the puck. Now it’s up to someone like a Daniel Cleary to take the puck and light the lamp. Cleary scored twice in the Anaheim series, but he’s got to be more engaged in the action. Nine shots in seven games for someone who needs to score is not acceptable. Zetterberg put everything on his shoulders and willed his team past Anaheim, but that won’t be nearly enough in this round.
Chicago, meanwhile, not only has a deep offensive team, but everyone got rolling in the playoffs. Whether it was Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa scoring, or Patrick Kane and skilled defenseman Duncan Keith passing, the Blackhawks were in championship form. Detroit’s team defense will be much better than Minnesota’s, but Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard has got to step it up. I know I’ve been a broken record on this topic, but Howard’s 91.1% save rate in the first round was the worst of any advancing goalie. I gave him the benefit of the doubt when I picked Detroit to advance, but I’m not doing it here. I’ll call for a Blackhawks sweep, and certainly no more than five games.
Los Angeles-San Jose: How will this series be officiated and can San Jose finish? The Sharks would like to see a tightly called series. The Kings were much better in normal 5-on-5 play, while the teams were more comparable in their ability on the power play/penalty kill. On the offensive end, San Jose does an outstanding job and getting shots, but in spite of having some good offensive talent, they weren’t nearly as effective at finishing. The team was 4th in the NHL in shots generated, but only 24th in the bottom line of scoring goals.
San Jose did not have the problem in their first-round sweep of Vancouver, the only series to end in four games. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton—the who’s who of the Shark attack—were all involved, be it scoring or passing. The question would be how much weight do you want to assign dominance of a Vancouver team that was also imploding by its own hand and has me kicking myself from here to next week for picking them to reach the Finals. My inclination is to give the Sharks credit for seeing a weakened team and like…well, like sharks, circling and going for the kill. But to also be realistic and know that opportunity will not be there against Los Angeles.
Los Angeles does have its own set of challenges. They have a lot of reasons to feel good. The Kings are hot, having won four straight after losing a pair to St. Louis to open the playoffs and Jonathan Quick was dominant in all six games. However, the Kings, after a pretty good year offensively, had trouble getting anything going against St. Louis. Jeff Carter scored three goals, but in this series Los Angeles needs more on the scoring end from Dustin Penner and more on the passing end from Anze Kopitar. They’ll get their chances—while San Jose’s defensive bottom line is good because of goalie Antti Niemi, the Sharks are mediocre when it comes to preventing shots.
This is a great matchup and I’m looking for it to go the distance. Niemi is an underrated goalie, and I think he can match Quick in a defensive war, providing San Jose’s superior offensive personnel just enough room to win a seven-game dogfight.
Pittsburgh-Ottawa: This was the matchup I expected, and when the postseason began I picked Ottawa to deliver a second consecutive upset. But the emergence of Pittsburgh’s Tomas Vokoun in goal has become the big X-factor of the entire playoffs. The question now is whether he’ll continue to get the nod and just how much we can expect.
Believe it nor, some in the Pittsburgh media are actually clamoring for Marc-Andre Fleury to get more playing time in this series. If it were up to me, I’d keep Fleury in a suit and tie just to avoid temptation. We know Pittsburgh has exceptional offensive talent—Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Jarome Ignlia, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin—the list goes on and they all produced in the first round. But the first question in the NHL playoffs is always about who’s in net and Ottawa’s Craig Anderson has been the league’s best in 2013. Pittsburgh’s goalie doesn’t have to match Anderson, because the Senators offense won’t generate the same kind of pressure, but the Pens can’t have a liability in goal.
So what to make of Vokoun? He had a 95.7% save rate in the two games he played, and if he even keeps it at 93-94, the Pens might not lose another game, much less another series. But he also spent a year as the backup to a subpar goalie. He was also the netminder on some recent Washington Capitals’ teams that became infamous for early postseason exits as heavy favorites. Does all that go out the window over two hot games against the #8 seed?
It doesn’t go out the window, but we should be cognizant that playing goalie in the NHL is a funny business and hot streaks can come and go. We know Vokoun is fresh and we know he’s hot. I’m going to stay with my upset pick, because I’m not really sure what to make of this—or if, at the first sign of trouble, he’ll be yanked—but if you’re an Ottawa fan you have to be worried that this Vokoun hot streak could easily last a few more games, enough to create a series sweep.
Boston-NY Rangers: Both Rask and New York’s Henrik Lundqvist are top goalies, but it was the Ranger netminder who looked in Cup form during the first round. Rask’s 92.3% save rate against Toronto was below his season average, while Lundqvist posted a 94.7% number. If we want to take the flip side of that, we can argue that the Rangers’ defense had a straightforward task in Round One—keep Alex Ovechkin off the puck—and they performed it. The Boston offense doesn’t have a great scorer, but it has several pretty good ones, and all of them made their mark at some point against Toronto.
Where I think this series will be ultimately won or lost is in both the volume and quality of shots that the Rangers can get. Rick Nash was absent in the Washington series, as was Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan. If they settle for 25-30 shots a game and aren’t aggressive on the rebounds, Rask can turn them away. If they keep on the move and create the same kind of looks Toronto was able to get for its key players, then it’s going to put inordinate pressure on Rask—pressure he did not handle at key moments of the first round.
Boston’s my team and I’m staying with them, but they have to do a much better job on the rebounds—preventing them if you’re Rask, clearing them if you’re a defender and getting them on offense. There were too many instances in the first round of a Bruin shooter getting a look and creating a rebound that would sit tantalizing in front of the next for a good second or so, but the rebounders were beaten to it. You are not going to beat Lundqvist on one-and-outs.
NBC Sports Network is taking over the weeknight coverage, and the four Game 1s will take place over the next three nights and San Jose-Los Angeles playing twice in that timeframe…
Ottawa-Pittsburgh (7:30 PM ET)
San Jose-Los Angeles (10 PM ET)
Detroit-Chicago (8 PM ET)
NY Rangers-Boston (7:30 PM ET)
San Jose-Los Angeles (10 PM ET)
TheSportsNotebook’s NHL analysis will return on Friday morning to overview where all four series are at. Please also check out NBA commentary, with a fresh installment coming tomorrow, and MLB coverage as the week rolls on.