After what must seem like the longest layoff in the history of hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning
and Boston Bruins
figure to be champing at the bit to get back onto the ice tonight.
The Bruins have been off since sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers
last Friday -- and their layoff is two days shorter than the one the Lightning has had since its sweep of Boston ended on May 4. If nothing else, both teams will be extremely well rested when the puck drops at TD Garden for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals (8 p.m. ET; Versus, CBC, RDS).
The participants in the Western Finals won't be nearly as well rested when their series starts Sunday -- Vancouver has been off since Monday, but the San Jose Sharks
won't fly to British Columbia until later today after eliminating Detroit on Thursday night.
With a day between rounds to take a breather, here's your daily NHL.com Reading List, a set of quick links to some of the stories you won't want to miss:
Recchi still a kid at heart
The calendar says Mark Recchi
is 43, the oldest player in this year’s playoffs. But as Shawn P. Roarke reports from Boston
, age isn't everything. Recchi's play belies his years, and his experience has proved to be an inspiration to some of his (much) younger teammates.
Just like old times for Lecavalier and St. Louis
Seven years ago, Vincent Lecavalier
and Martin St. Louis
were youngsters leading the Tampa Bay Lightning
to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. As Corey Masisak reports
, both players are older and wiser -- but still vital to the Bolts' hopes for success.
Sharks focus on Canucks
For two weeks, the San Jose Sharks
have had the Detroit Red Wings
on their minds. But with the Wings in the rear-view mirror after Thursday's series-clinching win, Eric Gilmore writes
that the Sharks have had to change their focus to dealing with Vancouver, the NHL's best team during the regular season, while starting a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2007.
Canucks glad to have an opponent
The Vancouver Canucks
had a few days to rest up after eliminating Nashville on Monday. They didn't find out until late Thursday who they'd be playing in the Western Conference Finals. Dhiren Mahiban reports
from Vancouver that the Canucks are relieved to have their third-round pairing set and are turning to the task of coping with San Jose.
Wings see bright future
The Detroit Red Wings
flew home after coming up a goal short in Game 7 against San Jose on Thursday after rallying from a 3-0 series deficit just to push the Sharks to the limit. Eric Gilmore reports
that the Wings feel they have a solid future ahead -- especially if 41-year-old captain Nicklas Lidstrom
decides to come back after yet another outstanding season.
Age and experience key in net
It's been a good spring for experienced goaltenders -- three of the four remaining are 30 and over, with San Jose's Antti Niemi
the "kid" at 27. Ken Baker
looks at why the older guys have done so well in this year's playoffs.
Early Conn Smythe candidates emerging
The Conn Smythe Trophy is different than the postseason MVP awards given out in other sports -- it's awarded for performance during the entire playoffs, not just the championship series. NHL.com looks at some early candidates