Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two Game Sevens in the East, West Ready For Sixes

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins had their second opportunity to eliminate the New York Rangers, but this time, they had to do so in the not-so-friendly confines of Madison Square Gardens. It was the momentum of Game Five's win, which kept the Rangers alive on Mother's Day, as the emotional hero, Martin St. Louis, got the team on the board early and there was no stopping that train, as the Rangers carried that momentum to a 3-1 Game Six win, forcing a Game Seven, which goes on Tuesday night.

Key pool players for the Rangers in Game Six were Henrik Lundqvist, who made 36 saves for the victory and Carl Hagelin, who scored the winner, 6:25 into the game.  Both players have a minor following in the pool this year, which gives a bit more value to them staying in the playoffs, if they can escape this series against the Penguins.

Game Seven goes in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, but it's the Rangers who have all the momentum at the moment.

Going into Sunday night's clash between the Wild and Blackhawks, it was the series of the home team, each winning their two games and going into Game Five tied at two games a piece.  The Wild did their best to turn the tide, as there was also another trend in this series, as scoring first led to wins in the first four games as well.  The Wild's Erik Haula got the visitors on the board first, but Blackhawks were patient and ready to chip away and chip away they did.  The Hawks scored once in the 2nd and Jonathan Toews lifted the home team into the lead in the 3rd period, a 1-goal lead that held on until the end for a 2-1 victory.

On the shoulders of Toews' 4th game-winner of these playoffs, the Blackhawks have now put the Wild behind the 8-ball, but home-ice on Tuesday night might see Minnesota force that seventh game.

Toews had the winner, Patrick Sharp had a couple of assists and Corey Crawford made 27 saves for the win, all three the notable players in the hockey pool on Sunday night.

It doesn't make a direct impact on the point totals in the hockey pool, but it may have made a difference in Game Five, as the Wild were without Box 4 forward Matt Moulson, due to a lower-body injury. Moulson wasn't taken in the pool this year, but he has been a good source of offense for his third team this year, so his presence has been key down the stretch.  It sounds like Moulson may be doubtful for Game Six, but likely, he'll be a game-time decision.

How about another Game Seven in these playoffs?  Yeah, I thought you wouldn't mind.

The Boston Bruins had a chance to knock off the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, but they were also going on the road to do so, which was going to make it extra difficult.  The Habs fed off their raucous crowd and got on the board just over two minutes in and never really looked back.  Carey Price weathered a few storms in every period, stopping all 26 shots that came his way, earning the 4-0 shutout win.

Thomas Vanek had a pair of goals, including an empty-netter and Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist to join Price as the notable players in the pool from this game.

Game Seven goes on Tuesday night in Boston and there should be plenty of fireworks in this one.  Game Six had its fair share of nastiness to build on, as there were a couple misconducts handed out in a fracas, only 24 seconds from the final buzzer.

It now appears that the difference in the Los Angeles/Anaheim series is now John Gibson, the Anaheim goalie, who has now won both of his first two NHL playoff starts and in fine fashion.  Gibson stopped 39 Los Angeles shots in Game Five, holding on to a narrow 4-3 victory at home, the first home win for either team in this series.

The Ducks jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the midway mark of the hockey game and then held on for dear life, as the home side only managed two shots on Jonathan Quick in the 3rd period, while the Kings peppered 14 at Gibson, only to beat him once.

Anaheim has now won the last three games of this series and will now go into Game Six in Los Angeles with the intention of finishing the series early.

Remarkably, with a new goalie and a non-pool player scoring the winner for the Ducks, there wasn't an Anaheim player to mention in this post.  On the L.A. side, only one player was notable, but he wasn't in the pool either.  What a downer!

Game Six of the series also goes on Wednesday night.  The Ducks have the chance to go through to the Conference Finals now.

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