Pittsburgh/Philadelphia (Flyers lead series 3-2):Is Marc-Andre Fleury really repaired?
The main storyline in "The Battle of Pennsylvania" is horrendous goaltending. However, you could see Fleury's confidence growing as Pittsburgh demolished both Philadelphia netminders in Game 4. Then, both he and Ilya Bryzgalov showed signs of straightening out in Game 5. MAF was particularly brilliant, with 14 saves in the third period as the Penguins held on a to a one-goal lead.
Several current and former teammates say Fleury's greatest strengths are his compete level and mental toughness. Those would be valuable assets at a time like this. But, you still have to wonder if he's 100 per cent there. Fleury is a major reason the Penguins are behind in this series. If things go off the rails early, will he be able to settle down and regain control? Obviously, Pittsburgh has no room for error.Boston/Washington (Capitals lead series 3-2):Do the Capitals qualify for coffee?
Did you ever see Glengarry Glen Ross
? Then, you know the scene that moved Alec Baldwin from lightweight member of a goofy acting family to legit bad-ass talent. "First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired." And, of course, "Put. That coffee. Down...Coffee's for closers only."
This has been a nightmare season in Washington. The Capitals, a popular Stanley Cup pick, fired a coach, looked disinterested on many nights and barely made it to the playoffs. All of that goes away with one more victory over the Bruins.
The amazing thing about this series is who's led Washington's charge. Braden Holtby, Troy Brouwer, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, etc. Alex Semin's scored a couple of big goals, but the high-end talent is pretty much along for the ride.Los Angeles/Vancouver (Kings lead series 3-1):Can Kesler/Burrows/Lapierre really keep calm?
They talked a good game on off-day Saturday. They (and coach Alain Vigneault) promised this was not a time to lose composure, how they'd been warned to keep their mouths shut and play the game. The Kings are going to test this. They'll push these three, taunt them with whatever they can think of, maybe add an extra punch/elbow here and there to see the reaction.
Trouble is, as a coach once said, "You can't change what you are." Yappy and annoying is part of their personalities, and it's served them well. Would any of them be successful NHLers without that? Vigneault knows he can warn them and threaten them, but when they're on the ice in a stressful, intense game, it's hard to be who you're not.
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