NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 04: Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes takes a slapshot against the Nashville Predators in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bridgestone Arena on May 2, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
How sweep it is. Stick tap to the Los Angeles Kings for doing away with the St. Louis Blues in mighty fashion. Those LA boys are looking pretty good lately and have become the Vegas odds on favorite for winning the Cup at 2-1. GOKINGSGO!
Okay, on to tonight's match ups.
The "It Ain't Over Yet" Game: #7 Washington Capitals at #1 , Game 5, 7:30 Eastern, NBCSN and CBC. Series tied 2-2.
So I'm not gonna lie: the only hockey I watched while in Kauai was all about the Kings. My vaca buddy is a season ticket holder in LA, so it was a given. Luckily, we had all the makings for Mai Tais in the condo. The point of all this rambling is that I've no idea who's doing what to whom in these games. So, for your reading pleasure, you get this directly from NHL.com:
Big Story: It looks like these teams are big fans of playing seven-game series. After each team won in the first round in seven games, they have alternated wins and losses through four games in the second round. It's been all about shot blocking and defense, and that figures to be the story yet again in Game 5.
Capitals: There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the Capitals would fold under pressure. That's not the case this year, as Braden Holtby has been a steady rock in the net and the rest of the team has exceled in one-goal games throughout the playoffs.
Rangers: One of the staples of the club has been blocking shots. Whether it's captain Ryan Callahan, defenseman Dan Girardi or even Marian Gaborik, everyone is willing to put themselves in harm's way.
The only problem in this series is the Rangers have run into a team that is just as willing to sacrifice. The Capitals are averaging 26.25 shot blocks per game in this series and no team has been better in the postseason.
The "WTF, Preds?" Game: #4 Nashville Predators at #3 Phoenix Coyotes, Game 5, 10:00 Eastern, NBCSN and TSN. Coyotes lead series 3-1 and could close this out to make for some yawn-inducing Conference Finals.
I really really want the Predators to get back in this thing, for at least two reasons: I would love for the Predators to win the Cup (if LA can't) and I would love to see the Preds and Kings matched up (I think it'd be some pretty good hockey to watch). Alas, I'm not sure they can muster the whatever-they-need to make it happen. Damn desert dogs. Seriously, WTF? The Yotes are an average team on paper. I just don't get it. More from NHL.com:
Big Story: Nashville's season is on the line after suffering a 1-0 loss on home ice in Game 4 on Saturday night. The series now shifts back to Phoenix for Game 5, where the Predators came up empty in the first two games of this best-of-seven series.
Predators: After being suspended for Game 3 and scratched for Game 4, forwards Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn are expected to return to the lineup Monday night.
The duo was suspended for Game 3 for a violation of team rules. After Nashville earned a 2-0 victory in that contest, Trotz decided to go with the same lineup for Game 4. The Preds fell behind 3-1 in the series in a 1-0 loss at Bridgestone Arena.
Radulov leads the team in points with six in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Andrei Kostitsyn's four tie him for fourth on the team.
Coyotes: Phoenix suffered a blow Sunday night, when it learned defenseman Rostislav Klesla will be suspended for Game 5. Klesla received a one-game ban for boarding Predators forward Matt Halischuk at 6:39 of the opening period of Friday's 1-0 win at Bridgestone Arena. It is believed David Schlemko will replace Klesla in the lineup Monday night.