Welcome, friends, to the first day of the NHL playoffs. It's unfortunate that the Ottawa Senators won't be taking part in this year's spring classic, but every day we'll still have open discussion threads (like this one) for anyone who'd like to come by and talk about what's happening in the NHL playoffs.
Tonight, we'll see the commencement of five of the playoff series. In each of the day's open threads, we'll highlight a "feature game" that the author will (somewhat arbitrarily) decide is their top billing on the night. Tonight's feature game: Game One of the Western Conference Quarter-Final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Canucks fans have been looking forward to this rematch since being bumped by the Hawks in the Western Conference Semi-Final in 2010; few of them, however, would have expected it to come in the first round of this year's playoff. Blackhawks fans are equally amped up for the series, although with their team backing in to a playoff spot, the regular season may have humbled the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Here are a few reasons I'll be watching this game:
(Read on for more. Also, if you're watching other games, we'll be talking about them, too... )
- Roberto Luongo: In last season's playoffs, Luongo finished with some ugly numbers: 3.22 GAA and .895 SP. His regular season stats have been great this year, but if he falters, there's little that Cory Schneider will get an opportunity to play some games.
- Corey Crawford: The Blackhawks' rookie goaltender had a coming out party this season, and finished with an eighth-best GAA of 2.30. He's backed up by Marty Turco, but Crawford will get the first opportunity to win this one for the Hawks.
- Senators Connections: Sami Salo, Marian Hossa, and Chris Campoli will all be in this series. Hossa will be counted on for the most production, but any of them could make a difference in the final outcome.
- Insane Skill: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith, to name a few of the massively skilled players who'll be in this series. It should definitely be an up-tempo matchup.
- Keslurking and Green Men: Almost worth it watching for just these two things.
- Washington Capitals (1) vs. New York Rangers (8): 7:30 p.m., TSN, Versus
- Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5): 7:00 p.m., CBC, RDS
- Detroit Red Wings (3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (6): 7:00 p.m., CBC, Versus
- Anaheim Ducks (4) vs. Nashville Predators (5): 10:30 p.m., TSN