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Puck Previews: 6 players to watch in Wednesday night’s NHL playoff games

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There are three huge Stanley Cup Playoff games on Wednesday night, which you should definitely check out during commercials of "Die Hard" on AMC. Here are six players on whom to focus your attention:

Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

Keep an eye on Howard for two reasons. First, because he's been the Wings' best player this series, stopping 79 of 83 shots. Second, because "Snowgate" is both the most compelling yet inane controversy of the second round, as the Sharks are accused of intentionally spraying snow in Howard's face during Games 1 and 2 in a move the National Post had the audacity to call "cheeky." Will the Wings counter with a snowblower inside the crease; and if so, will Joe Sakic even think about watching this game?

Douglas Murray, San Jose Sharks

One thing's for certain on Wednesday night: The Red Wings are going to try and crash Antti Niemi's crease and create some traffic. Which means Tomas Holmstrom's rump roast in Niemi's oven in Game 3. Which means it's on Murray to help keep Niemi from being eclipsed, as he told Working the Corners: "When you get guys that are willing to go there and know how to get there and know how to plant themselves, you can't really get into wrestling matches because then you start bothering the goalie. … You've just got to let Nemo handle the first shot and make sure he doesn't get any second whacks at it."

Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers

Briere had the game on his stick near the end of Game 2, unable to line up a shot into a gaping net. He has 12 points in his last nine playoff games against the Bruins, and had seven points in four games in Boston during the Flyers' rally in 2010. He's been the catalyst for Philly during much of this postseason, and with Chris Pronger out and Jeff Carter still ailing, they need him in Game 3.

David Krejci, Boston Bruins

Game 2's overtime hero now has five points (three goals, two assists) in two games against the Flyers. Please recall last year's Game 3 against Philly, when Krejci was felled by a Mike Richards hit, dislocating his wrist and costing him his postseason. He's been an offensive engine this round, but the Flyers are going to continue to rough him up.

Alex Semin, Washington Capitals

 

Alex Ovechkin did some heavy lifting for the Capitals in Game 3 (save for his skating into five Lightning defenders instead of dumping the puck with Michal Neuvirth pulled in the third). His running mate had a helper on Ovi's 5-on-3 power-play goal, but registered just one shot on goal himself in the game. Semin hasn't found the back of the net in his last two games after scoring eight goals total against the Bolts this season. His line, which showed promise, was a non-factor in Game 3. If the Caps are to rally, a strong offensive night from Semin is a good start. If he's invisible, then the Caps go 'poof' too.

Sean Bergenheim, Tampa Bay Lightning

They call him "The Hustler." Five goals in the playoffs and points in six of his last seven playoff games … not bad for a Tampa Bay player that doesn't line up with Marty, Vinny or Stamkos. He's been noticeable in every game, has been helpful on a PK that hasn't yielded a 5-on-4 goal all series and, frankly, has shown more killer instinct than about 90 percent of his opponents.

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