Tampa Bay @ NY Rangers (New York leads 1-0 – Game Two 8PM – Madison Square Garden)
-For the seventh time in the 2015 playoffs, the Rangers won a game by a score of 2-1 on Saturday afternoon. All but two of their victories have been by that score, and all of their victories have been by a one goal margin (so have their defeats). Conventional thinking says you can’t win a championship like that, but the strong play of the Rangers defensemen and having Henrik Lundqvist behind them is making it work. New York had a ton of scoring opportunities in the first period of Game One, and the Lightning will need to come out of the gate stronger tonight and not give the Rangers offense a chance to get going. Ben Bishop played well enough to win, but was the victim of Dominic Moore’s shin guard goal. Steven Stamkos was held to only one shot on goal in the first game, and he’ll need to find a way to get more opportunities on Lundqvist. When Tampa Bay lost Games Four and Five against Montreal, they came out angry in Game Six and won behind a strong team effort. They’ll need to get angry again to avoid going home 0-2. The Lightning have yet to trail 0-2 in a series, and the Rangers haven’t held a 2-0 lead in the 2015 playoffs.
Flyers Fill Coaching Vacancy
-In a move that came out of left field, the Philadelphia Flyers have hired former North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol to be their new head coach. The 46 year old has spent the past eleven seasons coaching at UND, compiling 289-143-43 record, making the NCAA Tournament in every season and the Frozen Four seven times. During his time at North Dakota, he’s coached guys like Jonathan Toews, TJ Oshie, Travis Zajac, Matt Greene, and Drew Stafford. For Flyers GM Ron Hextall to make this move now, it’s clear that they didn’t have a chance at Mike Babcock for one reason or another. With the Flyers roster starting to shade towards the younger side (especially with the blueline talent they have in Lehigh Valley of the AHL), this is actually a prudent move by Hextall. There’s some strong, veteran talent with Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakub Voracek, but Hakstol’s goal will be to mold the rest of the young roster. With the Philly vacancy gone, and Edmonton appearing very close to hiring Todd McLellan, that still leaves openings in Buffalo, Toronto, San Jose, and New Jersey.