Happy “hump day” to everyone! The rain seems to be subsiding, which means sunny days are here again, right? OK… OK… here are some headlines and news from the city of Boston.
* Baltimore jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings, and never looked back, as their lead ballooned into a 4-1 victory on Tuesday evening against Boston. Kevin Youkilishit his third home run of the season, along with his 10th RBI, while Adrian Gonzalezregistered one hit.
* Boston and Baltimore will conclude their three-game series on Wednesday at 12:35PM — Daniel Bardopposes Jake Arrieta.
* According to reports — Cody Rosscould miss six to eight weeks with a fractured bone in his left foot. Ross injured his foot last Friday after he fouled a ball off his foot, and is now the seventh Sox outfielder to be placed on the disabled list.
* Boston will attempt to close out their second round series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at 8PM. The Celtics currently lead the series, 3-2.
* Philadelphia is 4-0 this postseason after a loss, and 4-1 at home. There only loss at the Wells Fargo Center came against Boston in Game No. 3 of this particular Eastern Conference series.
* Finally, former UMass men’s ice hockey goaltender Jonathan Quickrecorded 38 saves in a span of 77:42 on Tuesday for Los Angles, which helped the Kings eliminate the Phoenix Coyotes from the NHL Western Conference Finals.
They are two of the most magical words in sports. There is nothing like it: the winner moves on, the loser heads home for the summer. In the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are three, juicy winner-take-all games to look forward to.
(7) Buffalo Sabres at (2) Philadelphia Flyers (Tuesday 7:30 p.m.):
This has been one heck of a series. Five of the six games have been decided by one goal. The last two have gone to overtime, with each team winning on the other’s home ice. Speaking of road warriors, the visiting team has won four times, with the Sabres taking two of three in Philadelphia. The bad blood between these two teams got turned up a notch in Game Six, when Philly’s captain Mike Richards shoved Buffalo’s Tim Connolly head first into the boards. Richards was called for a penalty, but Buffalo wanted more: a suspension for the decisive game. The NHL said no.
Will there be revenge on Buffalo’s mind on Tuesday night? Probably not – there is just too much at stake – but it does bear watching. Richards will play. Connolly will not.
(8) Chicago Blackhawks at (1) Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. Tuesday):
How much pressure is on the Presidents’ trophy winners for this one? The Canucks looked to be well on their way to the conference semifinals a little more than a week ago. Then the defending Stanley Cup champions woke up and won three straight: two blowout victories followed by an overtime winner Sunday night in Game Six.
Roberto Luongo was benched in that last game, but entered in the third period after Cory Schneider suffered an injury and gave up the game-winning goal in OT.
Head coach Alain Vigneault says Luongo will get the nod in Game Seven. The ‘Hawks are trying to become the fourth team in NHL history to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series.
(5) Tampa Bay Lightning at (4) Pittsburgh Penguins (Wednesday TBA):
Like the Canucks, the Penguins probably felt they had this series in the bag after winning Game Four in double-overtime in Tampa Bay. But the Lightning came back with an eight-goal outburst in Game Five, followed by a victory on home ice Monday night to even the series.
This quarterfinal matchup hasn’t gotten the attention that some of the other series have, but that does not diminish the fact that one of these teams will be all done come Wednesday night.
San Jose beats Los Angles:
Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, the L.A. Kings had a chance to send a fourth series to a seventh game. But Joe Thornton (remember him?) made sure that wouldn’t happen. His overtime goal gave the Sharks a 4-3 win, and a 4-2 victory in the series.
Three Game Sevens, two nights, plus, throw in Game Six (and possibly seven) between the Bruins and Canadiens, and you’ve got a hockey fan’s paradise.
Carey Price wasn’t the only one to record a shutout Thursday night in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Buffalo’s Ryan Miller did the same thing to the Flyers in Philadelphia. He made 35 saves, as the seventh-seeded Sabres beat Philadelphia, 1-0. Patrick Kaleta scored the only goal of the game early in the third period.
Out west, the San Jose Sharks needed overtime to knock off the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of that series. On a three-on-two break, Joe Pavelski took a pass from Kyle Wellwood and fired one home past Jonathan Quick to give the Sharks the 3-2 win.
Game 2 of both series is Saturday night in Philadelphia and San Jose, respectively.
We continue our previews of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a look at the matchups in the Western Conference:
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks:
This is a matchup of the defending Stanley Cup Champs, and the team considered the favorite to hoist the Cup this year. The Canucks have never won it all, but they put themselves in a prime position by capturing the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. Vancouver is loaded offensively, starting with the Sedin brothers, Daniel and Henrik, (198 total points between them.) Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford will be tested. Chicago is the champ until someone proves otherwise. But the ‘Hawks face a tall task by starting out as the #8 seed.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings:
It’s an all-California matchup, as these two Pacific Division foes meet in the playoffs for the first time. Antti Niemi has been sensational between the pipes for the Sharks. This is the same goaltender who played against San Jose in the Western Conference Finals last year as a member of the Blackhawks. The Kings will be without leading scorer Anze Kopitar for the duration of the playoffs. So, L.A. will be a defensive-minded team for sure. The Kings are solid in that department; only the Canucks and Bruins allowed fewer goals this season.
(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes:
These two teams face off against each other in the opening round for the second year in a row. The Wings won last year in seven games. In Hockeytown, they don’t settle for anything less than a championship, so the pressure is always on Detroit from the get-go. Keep an eye on the goaltenders in this series: Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and the Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov. Phoenix has not won a playoff series since moving to Arizona from Canada (remember the Winnipeg Jets?)
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators:
This is a classic matchup of contrasting styles. The Ducks have a great offense; the Predators are a defensive-minded team. Anaheim has the NHL’s leading scorer, Corey Perry, who netted 50 goals this season. Add veteran Teemu Selanne to the mix, and the Ducks are loaded. But Nashville has one of the best goaltenders in the league in Pekka Rinne. He was second in the league this season in goals against average and save percentage, (Boston’s Tim Thomas is #1.)
So the matchups are set. Let’s drop the puck and get the intensity level boiling.