Last night's games were very competitive and had Boston won, it would have been the first time since 1975 that all second round series had been tied 2-2. The Hurricanes took care of that possibility, lengthening the record for another year.
The Pittsburgh-Washington game was contentious as every and will be remembered by the controversial hit that Alex Ovechkin put on Sergei Gonchar. There is no doubt that it was a knee to knee hit but as Bruce Boudreau pointed out, he was leading with his shoulder. The HNIC announcers were ready to pull Ovie out of the box and crucify him on the spot. I would be surprised if Ovie received anything more than a warning before tonight's game. It appears that Gonchar will not be back anytime soon.
Ovie hits Sarge knee to knee
The bigger story on the ice was the fact that Pittsburgh got to Simeon Varlamov for five goals on 28 shots. If Varlamov doesn't bounce back with a solid performance tonight, the series could end quicker than expected.
Another mild controversy arose in that the Caps have now banned the HNIC/CBC camera crew from going anywhere near the Caps locker room after videos were taken of a white board before game three allegedly exposing critical information.
In the other game last night, Carolina surprisingly blew past the Bruins 4-1 and appear headed for the Eastern Conference finals. It was a closely contested affair even after Jussi Jokinen put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1 at the start of the third period. Back to back goals by Samsonov and Staal about a minute apart in the closing minutes of the game had to be a back breaker for Boston, who is now down 3-1 in the series and limping home.
Boston fans appear shocked at the team's unexpected collapse while Carolina fans are reliving Cam Ward's heroics from 2006 all over again. As surprised as I am at the current state of affairs, when I filled out my bracket before the playoffs, I did have Carolina beating Boston in this round. I also had the Sharks in the finals so I can't brag too much.
With no NHL on NBC this weekend due to golf coverage, the instant rematch between Pittsburgh and Washington kicks off tonight at 6:00 Central and should be a great game. Will the Caps will rebound at home or will the Pens will ride the momentum of Friday's win and hatred for the Caps to a win, that would give them the opportunity to clinch on home ice in game six. With a 3 1/2 hour offset between games, an overtime would be cool.
In the late game, Chicago travels to Vancouver with their backs against the wall against a Canuck team that appears to have been reborn in game four. Again, it will be interesting to see how each team responds.
Ryan at RLD has complete previews here.
In Predator news...
The Milwaukee Admirals are in a win or go golfing mode tonight at they play Houston in a series that they did not expect to be down 3-1. I had been looking for Admirals blogs and finally found a couple Milwaukee Hockey and Admirals Short Shifts to try to get more perspective on the Ads. The Admirals also have several blogs on their site but I came in the back door to find them and still don't see a link on the team's official home page.
The action doesn't heat up again at the World Championships until Sunday when Canada plays Russia for the gold and the US plays Sweden for third place.
The Predator's open house is set for next Sunday and offers several unique opportunities as you can see in this video. STH can do select-a-seat this week after 5:00 from the 13-15 to upgrade their locations. Terry Crisp points out that Section 303 is the spot in this video.
Speaking of Section303.com, the next edition of the 303:30 podcast is only a week away.
Eklund has Nashville ranked ninth in the "Most to Lose" category on July 1.
Around the NHL...
It appears that Phoenix may not be the only team in need of a "Save the ___" campaigne as a group is wanting to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton also. Mirtle also adds perspective.
The Save The Coyotes site is up and has tons on information on the effort in Phoenix.
In Pittsburgh, the home of some of the most avid fans in the league, it was announced that there will be a 24 hour a day HD radio station that will be all Pens 24/7. They will also carry the NHL Live and Bettman shows too. This will be a momentous undertaking but if any fan base can support the advertising dollars, Pittsburgh is the place.
Big Hair Hockey had a really good podcast with Adam Brady of the Ducks on Friday and was enjoyable to listen to. I had followed his tweets of the road trip to San Jose a couple of weeks ago and heard the rest of the story on the show.
Here is part 2 of Paul Kelly's view of international hockey from the World IIHF site.
More later... Maybe...
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass