Washington vs. Boston, Game 2 (Bruins lead 1-0):
Who is going to free Ovechkin?
We all know he's is the target. The Bruins went after Ovechkin hard, led by Dennis Seidenberg, the defenceman on his side of the ice. At the end of the regular season, he played primarily with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. In Game 1, the Capitals split up all three of those players five-on-five.
For the most part, The Great Eight was with Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer, a trio that did play together before Ovechkin/Backstrom/Johansson were re-united. It's a good idea in theory, putting him with two physical players who can create room. But he had just one shot -- and it was on the powerplay. (Tim Thomas made a great save.)
Does Dale Hunter say, "That's just one game, too small a sample size?" Or, does he re-unite him with one (or two) of Backstrom, Johansson and/or Alexander Semin?
Ottawa vs. New York, Game 2 (Rangers lead 1-0):
How fast is Ottawa's learning curve?
Don't underestimate the Senators. We thought they were dead six games into the season. We thought they were dead right after the All-Star break. We thought...well, you get the idea.
You never know how a young team is going to react to its first playoff series. You can argue that the Senators have veterans and that much of Ottawa's youth won the AHL's Calder Cup last year. It's not the same. You can't be told what to expect, you must experience it at this level.
Ottawa played pretty well for stretches against the Rangers, but every breakdown ate them alive. That's New York's experience. It's happened to them. They know. The Flyers have had their letdowns, but their young players found an extra gear against Pittsburgh. The Senators must match that.
San Jose vs. St. Louis, Game 2 (Sharks lead 1-0):
Will there be any panic in the Gateway to the West?
In researching St. Louis before the playoffs, the thing most people talked about was the Blues' patience. Ahead, tied, behind, no matter the point in the game, they stick to their game plan and system. It's quite impressive, really.
That's going to be tested here. When you lose in double overtime, it's pretty much a tossup. The challenge for St. Louis is not to get caught up in the negative: "Uh, oh...if we lose Game 2, then we're down 2-0 going on the road. They've got a lot more playoff experience than we do. And, we're the favourite."
That's going to be tested here. They're an intelligent positional team. It's strength is grinding you into mistakes. They've got to stick to that.
Chicago vs. Phoenix (Coyotes lead 1-0):
What has happened to Niklas Hjalmarsson?
Two years ago, he was such a underrated, yet important piece on a Stanley Cup champion. The Blackhawks even matched a San Jose offer sheet, which cost them Antti Niemi. In Game 1, he was fifth among Chicago defencemen in ice-time and looked lost on the second Phoenix goal.
Joel Quenneville went with Hjalmarsson a little more in the overtime, but had his third pairing on the ice for the winner (Sean O'Donnell, Nick Leddy). You could tell the coach was unsure about using Leddy in OT. But he still played more than Hjalmarsson overall. They need the Swede to rediscover his game.
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