NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Lightning vs. Bruins; Oilers vs. Kings
The NHL on NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 season with a doubleheader on Tuesday. First, The Boston Bruins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:00 p.m. ET. To watch that game online, click here.
Well, regular-season games don’t get much bigger than this one. The Lightning are in must-win mode if they want a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ll enter tonight’s game trailing the Bruins by four points (the Bolts have a game in hand) for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. There’s no getting around it, this game is huge.
“It’s down to win or go home,” defenseman Anton Stralman said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s Game 7.
“We’ve still got a chance — that’s all we can ask for. We believe.”
Even if the Lightning win their last four games of the season, that doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. They’ll need a little help along the way because Boston, Ottawa (four points ahead) and Toronto (five points ahead) all have more regulation/overtime wins.
The good news, is that the Bolts will get a crack at Boston tonight and they’ll face Toronto on Thursday.
But beating either team, especially the Bruins, won’t be simple. Since dropping a 6-3 decision to the Lightning in late March, Boston has won five games in a row. If you think the winning streak has made the Bruins forget their terrible performance in that game, guess again.
“It was one of those games where we didn’t show up and they took advantage of that,” center Patrice Bergeron said, per the Boston Herald. “We definitely know how they play and how good they are offensively in their transition and whatnot. We have to build from what we’ve done this weekend.”
Bruce Cassidy’s team should be feeling pretty good about themselves. Not only are they four points up on the Bolts for the final Wild Card spot, but they’re inching closer to a top three spot in the Atlantic Division.
A regulation win over the Bolts would see the Bruins clinch a playoff spot. Pretty simple.
In the late game, it’ll be the Los Angeles Kings hosting the Edmonton Oilers at 10:30 p.m. ET. To watch that game online, click here.
For the first time in 11 years, the Oilers will be heading to the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean their work this season is over.
Edmonton still has plenty to play for. Believe it or not, an Oilers will in regulation or overtime combined with a Ducks loss to Calgary in regulation would put Edmonton in first place in the Pacific Division.
Obviously, Connor McDavid is the biggest reason for Edmonton’s turnaround this season, but they’ve also received strong contributions from goalie Cam Talbot, Leon Draisaitl and quite a few others.
McDavid and Draisailt, in particular, have been terrific. Both players enter tonight’s game riding 10-game point streaks. It seems like stopping this duo is nearly impossible.
“There’s a camaraderie between the two, they’ve grown up in the organization and they look out for each other and I think they enjoy being with one another. That gives them extra time to communicate on the ice,” said head coach Todd McLellan, per the Edmonton Sun.
“Connor’s speed and Leon’s passing ability, you’ve got Leon who can slow the game down and Connor who speeds it up. That makes it tough for the opposition to judge what’s coming at them.”
Both players might not have any playoff experience, but facing them in the opening round won’t be a treat.
In the last three seasons, the Kings have made the post-season just once (they were bounced in the first round). Their lack of winning and inability to score goals has some people wondering if it’s time to give Darryl Sutter his walking papers this off-season.
Sure, the Kings had to deal with Jonathan Quick going down to injury in the first game of the season, but scoring goals was always an issue this season, and that didn’t change on Sunday, when a 2-1 loss to Arizona officially crushed their playoff hopes.
It’s also pretty clear that Anze Kopitar was one of the bigger disappointments this season. Through 72 games, the Kings captain has just 12 goals and 49 points.
“I can’t talk about that right now. It’s definitely too early,” Kopitar said of what his team was lacking this season, per LA Kings Insider. “You can really go down the list. It certainly didn’t help (Quick) going down the first game, and then we just had too many stretches of not playing remotely good enough, and obviously the losses kept piling on. I think coming back after the breaks we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. A lot of guys, I think, with me being on top of that list, I don’t think the production was there the way we expect from ourselves and from each other, and you can go on and on right now. But like I said, it’s a very empty feeling.”