2012 NHL Playoffs: The Race To Three; Friday Playoff Games Open Thread

All season long Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan has spoken about what he calls "the race to three", or the importance of scoring three goals before an opposing team does.

The NHL is a "3-2 League"-- with so much parity across teams, and the abilities of those teams to scout opponents reaching unprecedented heights with the rise of advanced statistics and easy access to video due to technological advancements, games are going to be tight right down to the wire.

That's especially true in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Weaker teams are weeded out, the competition becomes fiercer, and coaches are able to compose a much firmer gameplan to beat an opposing team instead of just adding a few wrinkles here and there for a one and done regular season game.

This postseason, the "race to three" has produced results in line with what we would expect-- teams are 5-1-1 this year when they win the race to three, with only the Philadelphia Flyers (who staged a three goal comeback to win 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday) and the Boston Bruins (who won 1-0 in overtime yesterday) picking up victories without hitting that three goal mark before their opponents.

In other words, the correlation with winning has always been strong for teams who score three goals (more goals lead to more wins after all), and it's safe to expect more of that tonight.

NHL Playoffs: April 13, 2012

Away Home series Time (PST)
New Jersey Florida
Tied 0-0
4:00 NHL Network, TSN
Philadelphia Pittsburgh PHI 1-0
4:30 NBC Sports Network, TSN
Detroit Nashville NSH 1-0 4:30 CNBC, CBC
Los Angeles Vancouver LAK 1-0 7:00 NBC Sports Network, CBC

The game of the night for me has to be Los Angeles and Vancouver-- sure it will be interesting to see Pittsburgh's response after their meltdown in game one, and the fallout from Shea Weber's smash of Henrik Zetterberg on Wednesday is bound to add some intrigue, but I thought Los Angeles handled Vancouver pretty exceptionally during game one in their ability to carry the play and keep the Canucks to the outside for the majority of the night.

One game in is way too early to think an upset is imminent of course, but Los Angeles has the exact same opportunity San Jose will have on Saturday-- take a 2-0 lead in the series heading back to home ice. With Daniel Sedin projected to miss another game with concussion symptoms the Canucks are going to have their work cut out for them.

Enjoy the action.