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Pregame Skate: Rangers-Sens, Blues-Sharks back at it with animosity rising

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

7:30 ET, Rangers at Ottawa, Game 3 (CNBC)

Before the playoffs began, I really had this series pegged as perhaps the most dull of the first round, it or Florida-New Jersey. Despite the regular season record, I didn't think the Sens would be too big of a challenge for the Rangers nor did I expect a lot of fireworks. Both of those beliefs were proven false in Game 2 on Saturday.

The series moves on to Ottawa with a building that no doubt will be rocking. After witnessing the carnage that came out in Game 2, there's no telling where this game might go. The Rangers no doubt feel slighted by discipline rulings seeing Carl Hagelin get suspended for three games while Matt Carkner only one. There were other hits they weren't happy about either. But right now it'd be best to focus on the hockey.

That's because the Senators are proving to be a pretty tough match for the Rangers if two games is any indication. Aside from about a five-minute stretch in Game 1, the Sens have been playing pretty much toe-to-toe with the East's No. 1. Obviously their overtime win proof.

The Rangers need to get back to what they were doing to Erik Karlsson in Game 1, except perhaps without the pestering punches. But they need to hound him because he makes the Sens go. He was outstanding in Game 2.

10 ET, St. Louis at San Jose, Game 3 (NBC Sports Network)

Talk about your surprising blood baths. This one might have had the dirtiest game in the entire playoffs so far outside of Game 3 in Philly. There were any number of hits in the game and/or fights that had people from either teams -- both the teams and their fans -- upset. It was surprising there was no supplemental discipline to be seen.

But like the Rangers-Sens series, one thing that gets a little lost in that is that we have ourselves a series here. In Game 2, talking away from the shenanigans, we saw the Blues team that we did for most all of the season. They shut out San Jose and got the timely scoring that they're used to.

The concern now -- if you can call it that -- is that goaltender Jaroslav Halak was injured in Game 2 and had to be relieved by Brian Elliott. I tell ya, it's tough for St. Louis when they have to turn to an All-Star goalie as their backup.

San Jose isn't built as well as the Blues to play an overly physical and out-of-control game. They need to try and stay in the game, perhaps playing at home will do that for them.

7:30 ET, Boston at Washington, Game 3 (NBC Sports Network)

There have been two games played so far, but it's been nearly three games worth of time. There have been four goals scored in total. To paraphrase Black Rob, the offense is like woe (apologies for obscure music references more than a decade old ... moving on).

Not surprisingly, the Bruins have been the team getting more shots in the series. The Capitals under Dale Hunter just don't shoot that often -- with regularity at least. Still, Tim Thomas has been excellent in the series so far. Particularly in Game 2, he showed the form that earned him the Conn Smyth a year ago.

But Braden Holtby has been better. Boston hasn't been getting the best looks in the world -- seriously, they really need to re-establish a net presence -- but Holtby has had a handle on almost every single one of them. Sometimes a goalie gets hot. This goalie is hot.

There was nothing in the first two games of this series to suggest that the Bruins are going to prevail for sure. Now that Washington get its shot to play on home ice, it could start to get hairy for the defending champs. Climbing out of holes is something they can do, they did it last year, but it's not a position you want to put yourselves in.

Daily miscellany

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