Back by popular demand, here are your Puck Previews: Spotlighting the key games in NHL action, news and views as well as general frivolity. Make sure to stop back here for the nightly Three Stars when the games are finished.
• This photo has been neither photoshopped nor captioned. I would invite you to do both.
This series has been a fun one to watch, which makes it all the more shameful that no one's watching. (Come on, guys! They're playing clean! Isn't that what you wanted?) Expect a bounce back game from Martin Brodeur, who couldn't shut the door in Game 3 after the Devils spelled him a 3-0 lead and was pulled when the Panthers tied the game. Expect one, as well, from Anton Volchenkov, who has been on the ice for all but 1 Florida goal against, although pretty much any positive sign from him could be considered a bounceback at this point.
The Capitals will be without Nicklas Backstrom for Game 4, which is rough. On the bright side, they've been rehearsing this scenario all year. There's no time to lament the loss: Alex Ovechkin called the game a must-win, and his ability to make a difference without Backstrom will determine whether the Capitals can get it done. Keep your eye on the officiating in this one. As Ted Leonsis made clear, the Capitals have been unhappy with it thus far, and things tend to go off the rails when the players don't trust the zebras to call the game properly.
Marian Hossa won't play, and neither will Raffi Torres for knocking him out with a leaping headshot in Game 3. The Coyotes win that trade, unfortunately -- Hossa is severely underrated as a difference-maker and an offensive spark, and in a series where goals are hard to come by, he'll be missed. But the Blackhawks have done a good job all season of playing through injuries to key players, and they may be energized by a desire for revenge. This one could get plenty nasty.
Preview: St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks, 10 p.m. ET
After failing to score a goal at even-strength through Game 2 and most of Game 3, Todd McLellan has tinkered with his lines in the hopes of getting more out of his forwards 5-on-5. Patrick Marleau moves to centre between Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe, while Logan Couture takes his place alongside the Joes. And Michal Handzus and Brad Winchester could draw in. Turning the tide on special teams is crucial as well. The Sharks have struggled to gain the zone with man advantages in the series and they've surrendered 5 powerplay goals.
• Joel Quenneville has been fined $10,000 for correctly calling the officiating a disgrace after Tuesday night's Game 3 in Chicago. Did I say correctly? I meant super correctly. [NHL]
• NHL.com is not coded for the sort of nonsense Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are serving up. It's like Y2K! [Reddit]
• What's the deal with Mason Raymond? [Canucks Army]
• A young man has pleaded guilty to assault after taunting between Saskatoon Blades fans and Prince Albert Raiders fans turned into a small melee after a Western Hockey League game last year. [Saskatoon Star-Phoenix]
• Bad news, everyone: CBC has put Battle of the Blades on hiatus. [CBC]
• The Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned a composer to write music to The Hockey Sweater for a performance narrated by Ken Dryden. Canada rules. [Metro News]
• Raffi Torres is public enemy no. 1 in Chicago, which is a little foolish since he won't play again in this series. [PHT]
• And the biggest surprise five category fantasy player is... [Fantasy Hockey Scouts]
Puck Buddy Comment of the Day: Thanatos, on playoff beards:
I don't think pre-grown beards should count. Every player should shave at the start of the playoffs and have a good ol fashioned beard-off!
Bold prediction: every series ends tied tonight.
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- New Jersey Devils
- Raffi Torres
- Raffi Torres
- Washington Capitals