Washington @ NY Rangers – Capitals lead 2-1 (Game Four – 7:30PM – Verizon Center)
-The amount of scoring in this series has been so low, that Vegas initially set the over/under on this game at 4.5 goals, which is extremely rare. The Capitals don’t have to do much differently. They’d like to score more, but goals are always tough to come by against Henrik Lundqvist. They’ve managed to shut down one of the league’s best offenses, and it’s up to the Rangers to shake things up to get the series even at two games each. The big question is how, and it’s not going to be easy the way the Caps defensemen are playing. Plugging Martin St. Louis in to Mats Zuccarello’s spot on the top line hasn’t helped Rick Nash light the lamp, so it’s time to try something new. My suggestion:
Tonight is officially a gut check for the Rangers. They were the favorites to go all the way at the beginning of the playoffs, and now they’re facing their first real challenge of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Speaking of gut checks…
Montreal @ Tampa Bay – Lightning lead 2-0 (Game Three – 7PM – Amalie Arena)
–Montreal hasn’t beaten Tampa Bay in over a year (Game Four of last year’s first round series – April 22, 2014 to be exact). A Habs loss down in Tampa tonight would have their season circling the drain. After the Lightning had their own gut check moment in the first round against Detroit, they’ve looked more like the Tampa team we saw during the regular season. Steven Stamkos finally scored in Game Two, and he’ll be playing a little looser now with that monkey off of his back, That’s a dangerous thing for Montreal, who doesn’t score a ton (1.88 goals per game in the playoffs, 2.61 during the regular season – which ranked 20th in the league). Ben Bishop appears to have his mojo back after winning a Game Seven and a 2-1 double OT victory in back to back games. Carey Price has had a fantastic season, but he may need to close the door entirely on Tampa Bay tonight to get the Canadiens back on track in the series.
Nassau Coliseum Ice Removed One Last Time
-Even though the end of Islanders hockey became official when the Capitals won Game Seven of their first round series, yesterday it became real. The ice was removed from the surface of Nassau Coliseum for the final time yesterday. The next place you’ll see an Islanders logo on the ice will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The building itself was a dump (and so were the food and amenities), but it was a great place to watch a hockey game or take in a concert. The NBA’s Nets and the Islanders sharing a building has come full circle. The Brooklyn Nets were originally the New York Nets in the old ABA days, and called the Coliseum home from 1972-77. After moving to New Jersey for 33 seasons, the Nets moved back to New York three years ago.