8 Questions for Thursday, April 27 (Playoffs Round 2)

  1. Will Ottawa be able to take advantage of the Rangers? They’ve used a 1-3-1 trapping system, to great effect vs. Boston. But the Rangers are faster, and if they can chip pucks in deep and retrieve them, the Senators will be chasing through the series. Wild Card: Derrick Brassard (OTT), formerly of the Rangers, vs. Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers, each traded for the other, each trying to win the argument over who was the better player.
  2. Have the Capitals already faced their stiffest challenge? Toronto put a 6-game scare into the President’s Trophy winning Caps, but the Caps have played solid defense all year, and look to rebound against playoff nemesis Pittsburgh (the Caps and Pens have faced each other ten times in their history, the most recent a Penguins win in Round 2 one year ago. Washington has allowed the fourth-fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes and ranked first in 5-on-5 goals. With defenseman Kris Letang out for the season (neck) and forwards Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin uncertain participants due to injuries that kept each out of Round 1, the Capitals seek to show off their depth.
  3. Will Jake Guentzel continue his torrid pace? With 16 goals in 40 regular-season goals and five more in five playoff games, there seems to be no reason to believe that he’ll go cold with Sid Crosby as a linemate.
  4. Will Marc-Andre Fleury come through? Be sure that if the Penguins win this Round 2, Matt Murray won’t see the pipes again, even when he comes back.
  5. Will Randy Carlyle replace John Gibson with Jon Bernier in Game 2 Friday? No. But if the Ducks fall again, you can bet that Bernier will get the call regardless whether the goals against are Gibson’s fault.
  6. Will Nashville overcome Kevin Fiala’s injury? With Vernon Fiddler coming off the bench to score the winner in Game 1 Wednesday night, and Colin Wilson and Craig Smith seeking opportunities to get back on track, the pesky Preds will be fine.
  7. Can the Blues stay out of the penalty box? They’d better, because they allowed two power-play goals Wednesday in the 4-3 loss at home. Bright note: Vladimir Sobotka (2-2-4 in 6GP) is rewarding the Blues for bringing him back from the KHL.
  8. Can the Ducks bounce back? Anaheim’s penalty kill ranked 4th overall during the regular season, but has given up eight goals in 21 penalty kills through the first game of Round 2. Coach Randy Carlyle felt that his club didn’t compete in the low slot the way they should. Game 2 is Friday in Anaheim.


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