After five days and nights of action, we already find one team on the brink of being eliminated from the 2011 NHL playoffs. Following Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Chicago, the Blackhawks now stand one game away from being given the broom treatment by the Canucks.
But before they drop the puck on Tuesday night however, we will know if Vancouver will be without the services of Raffi Torres who delivered a ferocious shot to the head of Brent Seabrook behind the Chicago goal. Torres was playing his first game since returning from a four-game suspension after a similar hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville certainly thinks Torres deserves more time to sit and think about what he has done. After the game he said, “I thought it was a major [penalty] live and after seeing the replay, clearly”.
Either way, the Fat Lady may be delivering her first performance of the spring tomorrow night in the windy city.
Elsewhere around the league…a pair of other teams will look to go up three games to none in their series tonight. The Montreal Canadiens have taken a 2-0 lead on the Boston Bruins behind Carey Price’s 65 saves on 66 shots performance in the first two games. It took the Bruins 87:38 to finally slip one past the Habs netminder, Patrice Bergeron doing the honors for Boston.
Meanwhile, the Big Red Borg travel to Arizona for games three and four after taking the initial pair of games back in Detroit. The Coyotes just fell short of their comeback bid Saturday, losing 4-3 after surrendering four goals to the Wings in the first 21:11.
Tonight’s action will also include game three of the Penguins vs. Lightning and Sabres vs. Flyers series. Both of those are knotted at one game each.
Elsewhere, the Rangers won their all-important game three with the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon to close the gap on the Caps. Game four is Wednesday night and New York will look to tie that series up.
Back out west, the Kings bounced back from their overtime loss to San Jose and blanked the Sharks 4-0 in game two. Jonathan Quick stopped all 34 shots he face Saturday night to earn his first NHL playoff shutout. That series now heads to L.A. for the next two games.
And the Nashville / Anaheim series is turning out to be as much fun to watch as I thought it’s be. Last night the Predators made Mike Fisher’s goal halfway through the third period stand up as they fought off the Ducks. They take a 2 games to 1 lead into game four on Wednesday evening.
AHL Schedule Modifications
Here’s something else to discuss if you wish. Last week the AHL Board of Governors approved modifications to the league’s schedule and playoff format. Starting this fall, teams will play 76 games. Each team will lose two home and two away games.
Eliminated are any possibly scenarios where four games would be played in a five-day period.
Also, the first round of next year’s AHL playoffs will be a best of five series, instead of a best of seven.
AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews explained the reasoning behind these modifications saying, “As our league has grown and our game has become faster and more physical, the wear and tear on our players has begun to affect player development and at times the quality of competition. These steps are intended to provide a safer environment for our players through increased rest and recovery time, and also to provide our fans with an even higher caliber of play as a result of reduced player fatigue.”