Early this morning, the Detroit Red Wings hired former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, in the biggest surprise of the year, to be sure. We’ll soon find out if what Yzerman brought to the Lightning was fleeting, or if the Wings, too, can build a true powerhouse contender that dominates the league and falls flat on its face in the first round. Better start trading for New York Rangers, like, today.
The San Jose Sharks live to fight another day, which means, if you watch playoff hockey like I do, and skip a week or so in mourning after San Jose’s ouster, you have to get back on the horse and watch something tonight. Luckily, with just two games on the schedule, and one in the Eastern time zone, you can watch both! We’ll still pick one, but it’s a close call today.
What’s on tap
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Game 5 (Series tied 2-2)
4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN
What was anticipated to be one of the closest and most exciting match ups of the first round is living up to its ample hype. While it remains to be seen whether the Leafs plan on flying Drake to Boston in a Bruins jersey to make the most of his apparent curse, they may not need him. Toronto made a game out of the fourth contest in this series late, scoring two goals in less than two minutes in the third period to get the game within one, before Joakim Nordstrom’s empty netter put it away.
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames Game 5 (COL leads 3-1)
7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ALT
What is going on with this postseason? Despite some really solid play from Mike Smith, the Flames’ top six has not been able to keep up with Colorado’s top three, which is a sentence no one would have anticipated two weeks ago. Facing elimination tonight, Calgary will have to dig deep and get some production from their stars: their top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm, a trio that piled on 97 goals in 82 during the regular season, have scored two so far this series, and just one at even strength.
Brad Marchand: With three points in Game 4, Marchand was instrumental in Boston’s evening the series. His six points in four games leads the Bruins, and it will be interesting to see what head coach Bruce Cassidy does with his top six with the luxury of last change. Does David Pastrnak reunite with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, or did the coaching staff value the depth of scoring they had splitting up the dynamic trio?
Mikko Rantanen: With the tying goal and the overtime winner in Wednesday’s 2-1 win to take the 3-1 stranglehold on the series, Rantanen has established himself as more than just Nathan MacKinnon’s wing (although he is still that). Again, the Flames need a way to shut down, or at least slow down, Colorado’s top line, and they need it more than ever tonight.
Seriously, just watch both, but with an elimination game on the schedule, we’re going to have to default to Flames-Avalanche again. That series has been more exciting than it had any right to be heading into the second season, and I, for one, am all in on another helping. Also, if you’re feeling some optimism after last night’s win, this game can double as valuable pre-series scouting.