Pregame Skate: Penguins and Canucks facing must win games
The Penguins and Canucks have no other option. They have to win on Sunday.
We all know the history. Teams that are down 3-0 in a series almost never come back and advance to the next round. Sure, it's happened a small handful of times (three to be exact). But those instances are few and far between, and only seem to happen once every 30 years or so.
After taking the first two games in Vancouver, the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Kings head back home with an opportunity to deliver what could be a knockout blow to the Presidents' Trophy winning Canucks.
Because there always seems to be a goalie controversy in Vancouver, there has already been some talk (from the media, and I'm sure fans) about possibly replacing Roberto Luongo with Cory Schneider. But that would be a panic move at this point, and probably an overreaction.
The Canucks are in a two-game hole, but it's not all Luongo's fault. The bigger issue for Vancouver is it hasn't been able to score, a carryover from the 2010-11 postseason. Going back to last year's playoffs the Canucks haven't scored more than two goals in regulation in eight straight postseason games. That's not going to get the job done no matter who your goalie is.
The Kings came in to the playoffs on a role, and it's not just because of the goaltending of Jonathan Quick. They're controlling games and have not only won 15 of their past 23, they've also managed to outshoot 14 of their past 15 opponents.
3 ET, Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Game 3 (NBC)
The other Stanley Cup favorite that finds itself in a deep hole heading into Game 3: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And what a series this has been. All offense, all the time. Neither team has done much of anything defensively, and the goaltending for the most part has been bad on both sides (I don't care how many highlight saves there are, when there are 20 goals in two playoff games, nobody is playing well in net). The amazing thing about this series so far is Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov seems like he's one bad goal away from completely losing his mind, but they still have control of the series with a two-game lead as it shifts back to Philadelphia.
The Penguins late-season struggles defensively have carried over to the postseason, and they're still having major problems protecting the puck (and leads) resulting in countless turnovers and scoring chances going back the other way.
No lead seems to be safe as the Penguins have had two-goal leads in each of their past five losses to the Flyers, including the first two playoff games. Maybe all they need is to get on the road. Not only are the Flyers 7-1 all time at the Consol Energy Center, but road teams are 10-5 so far in the playoffs.
12 ET, Nashville at Detroit, Game 3 (NBC)
The Red Wings were able to do what they needed to do in Nashville by winning at least one of the first two games.
Now the series heads back to Joe Louis Arena where the Red Wings were nearly unbeatable during the regular season with a 31-7-3 record, including 2-1 against the Predators.
As was the case for most of the season the Predators haven't been able to generate many chances offensively (and that's with 12 power plays). That's going to put a lot of pressure on goaltender Pekka Rinne to play with little margin for error. He's been up to the challenge all season, and he may need to be even better right now.
7 ET, New Jersey at Florida, Game 2 (NBC Sports Network)
Florida Panthers fans were able to get their first taste of playoff hockey in 10 years on Friday night and, well, things didn't get off to a great start.
The Panthers spent the entire first period chasing the play in their own end of the ice and had to try and dig themselves out of an early three-goal hole. They were able to settle things down a bit in the second period, and even scored a pair of goals, but it wasn't enough as the Devils controlled much of the game to take an early series lead.
Should we expect anything different in Game 2? Or for the rest of the series, for that matter? I wouldn't expect New Jersey to start Sunday's game with 26 shots in the first period, but it wasn't hard to see on Friday which team finished the regular season with 102 points, and which team backed into the playoffs losing nine of its final 10 regular season games.
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