The National Hockey League playoffs are into full swing this weekend as all five Canadian teams are in action. Canadian-based NHL clubs went 0-5 in game one of their best of seven series and no Canadian team, other than possibly the Toronto Maple Leafs, should be satisfied with their performance. This is also the weekend unfortunately when hockey playoffs conflict with the holiday weekend of Easter, limiting my television sports viewing.
Here are the events I will be watching this weekend:
Saturday—NHL—Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2—Boston Bruins @ Ottawa Senators—NBC–12pm PT—The Boston Bruins won game one of the best of seven series by completely dominating the Senators in the third period. Brad Marchand, who led the Bruins this season with 85 points, scored the game winner with 2:33 left in regulation. Remarkably the Bruins bounced back in the final frame after not even recording a shot on goal in the entire second period. Boston will need to continue to have strong play from rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who played in his first ever NHL game on Wednesday and was a +1 in 24:11 of ice time. McAvoy is filling in for Torey Krug, who was injured against the Senators late in the regular season.
Saturday & Sunday—PGA—The Heritage—CBS–12pm PT—The interesting season in Canadian golf is continuing this weekend as many of the world’s top professionals are in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Graeme DeLaet of Weyburn, Saskatchewan currently is tied with former world no.1 Luke Donald of England at -10. To close out the second round, Donald made a phenomenal birdie on the 18th hole to tie DeLaet, who is still looking to win his first event on the PGA Tour.
Saturday—NBA—Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1—Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors—SN1—2:30pm PT—The Toronto Raptors may have had a rough stretch in the middle of their season, but were 12-2 in their final 14 games and need to be praised for turning things around. Now that all-star point guard Kyle Lowry is back after his wrist injury, expectations in Toronto are high, and who knows how far Toronto can actually go over the next two months in the postseason. Remember however that Bucks head coach Jason Kidd was the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets when they eliminated the Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs three years ago.
Saturday—NHL—Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 2—Toronto Maple Leafs @ Washington Capitals—CBC—4pm PT—As mentioned the Toronto Maple Leafs should be somewhat satisfied with their game 1 performance in Washington on Wednesday, but the bottom line is they lost 3-2 in overtime and will need a similar performance to stay with the Capitals in game 2. There is no question that the future in Toronto is looking bright, while all the pressure is on the Presidents’ Trophy champion Washington Capitals.
Saturday—NHL—Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 2—Nashville Predators @ Chicago Blackhawks—NBC—5pm PT—The Nashville Predators need to be very pleased with the game one outcome Wednesday at the United Center. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne was outstanding as he made 29 saves for his second career playoff shutout. Meanwhile offensively, Viktor Arvidsson continued his excellent season (where he had 31 goals and 61 points), by scoring the only goal of game one in a 1-0 Nashville win.
Saturday—NHL—Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 2—Calgary Flames @ Anaheim Ducks—CBC—7:30 pm PT—Believe it or not but the level of interest for the Edmonton Oilers in the city of Calgary may be higher than the level of interest for the Flames. In being out in the city of Calgary earlier today, I saw more Oilers flags on cars than Flames flags and more Oilers jerseys at the shopping center than Flames jerseys. Expectations for the Flames in Calgary at the moment are simply not high. Flames fans know the Flames have not beaten the Ducks in the regular season since 2004, and despite a respectable game one effort on Thursday in Anaheim where they lost 3-2, a short series is very possible over the next week.
Sunday—MLB—Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays—Sportsnet One—10 am PT—Have the Toronto Blue Jays all of a sudden forgotten to hit? Did the Blue Jays rely on Edwin Encarnacion so much last season that they have gone from battling for first place in the American League East to trying to get out of the basement? They need to turn things around quickly or they will be out of playoff contention by the end of April, and become a footnote in national sports reports.
Sunday—NHL—Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3—Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues–NBC—12 pm PT—The Minnesota Wild dominated game one of their series, but simply could not beat Blues goalie Jake Allen, who had one of the best performances of his career. In all, Allen made 51 saves and let Blues fans forget for the short term about losing Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames in the offseason. Still, the way the Wild were playing in game one, it is highly unexpected that they will lose four games if they play the same way as they did on Wednesday in a 2-1 St. Louis overtime win.
Sunday—NHL—Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 3—Edmonton Oilers @ San Jose Sharks—Sportsnet—7pm PT—The San Jose Sharks showed their playoff experience in game one on Wednesday, while the Oilers showed their playoff inexperience. In order for the Oilers to regroup and get back into the series, they will need a more consistent performance throughout the entire 60 minutes. The final 40 regulation minutes were completely dominated by San Jose, and allowed the Sharks to regroup after falling behind 2-0 early and rebound with an impressive 3-2 win.