Pregame Skate: Devils, Flyers get going; Coyotes look for 2-0 series lead
The fourth of the four second-round series gets under way Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia between the Devils and Flyers while the important Game 2 drops in Phoenix between the Coyotes and Predators.
3 ET: New Jersey at Philadelphia, Game 1 (NBC)
That's one of the advantages it has against New Jersey in this series. Another will be in the special-teams department if the Devils don't get their act together. Their PK was abysmal by their standards against the Panthers in the first round, giving up nine goals in seven games. But that was child's play compared to what Philly's power play did in Round 1, clicking at better than 50 percent.
The goaltenders will be an interesting two players to keep an eye on. For much of the series against Florida, Martin Brodeur looked less than solid, battling the puck at time and leaving some savory rebounds for the Panthers. He was sharp as a tack when they needed him most, though, in overtime of Game 7. Perhaps the confidence from that game can carry over.
Ilya Bryzgalov is also coming off of his best game in the playoffs in the Flyers' elimination game over the Penguins. Torches for most of the series, Bryzgalov allowed just one goal in Game 6 on home ice, a very welcome sign that he hadn't lost it; "it" encompasses many things, including his confidence.
If the regular season is any indication, don't expect a tight game today. Of the six meetings the division rivals had (they were split 3-3) only one of them was a one-goal game.
8 ET: Nashville at Phoenix, Game 2 (NBC Sports Network)
Those Coyotes just won't go away, will they? Everybody keeps trying to push them off the cliffs like they're Wile E. but they refuse to fall for it this time.
After taking the first game of the series from the Predators on home ice, the Coyotes want the two-game sweep. Of course Nashville's goal as the visiting team is always just to take one of two, take the home-ice advantage away from Phoenix. There's no such thing as an unimportant game in the playoffs, but psychologically speaking the second game can be one of the bigger ones because of that battle.
If the Preds are going to return home with the split they have to find a way to do what the Blackhawks couldn't, beat Mike Smith. It's becoming the question of the playoffs as the goalie has turned his game up to even another level than where it was during the season.
But the Coyotes still need to get better in front of him even though they're winning. They had just 18 shots through regulation in Game 1, including one solitary shot to the Predators' 16 in the third period.
"It's not the prettiest hockey, and people can say what they want about it, but we've just got to find a way to win," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "We pride ourselves as a group in doing that. Obviously, we're pretty thankful that Smith has been as good as he's been. At the same time, we have to be better as a group, as a whole."
If not, they just might go to another overtime.
- Speaking of the Coyotes, optimism is up again that deal to buy the team could be closer with some emerging details about the structure. (Arizona Republic)
- Wondering why the hit by Dwight King on Alex Pietrangelo only warranted two minutes? Here's your answer. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- The Panthers had their clean-out day and even with a lot of uncertain futures the team expects to make it back to the postseason next year. (Sun-Sentinel)
- And to close it out, your latest edition of Coach's Corner for those who can't see the CBC intermission show.
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