Four games Friday night kick off the first playoff weekend in the NHL with action that should have fans on the edge of their seats.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. when the Ottawa Senators
look to even their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins
, the Philadelphia Flyers
open their series against the Washington Capitals
and the New York Rangers
will try to extend their series lead to two against the New Jersey Devils
. A lone 9 p.m. game features Game 2 of the Colorado Avalanche
-Minnesota Wild series.
Here's what to keep an eye out for:
* The Senators, who lost last season's Stanley Cup Final, have lost five of their last six playoff games, including Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Penguins in Game 1. Ottawa, which has lost five of its last six games, has allowed more goals than any other playoff team.
* Ottawa center Jason Spezza
, who was tied for seventh in the League with 58 assists, has no goals and just one assist in his last five playoff games. Spezza, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 15 games through the first three rounds of last season's playoffs, was second in the Northeast Division with a plus-26 rating.
* Pittsburgh left wing Gary Roberts
, who scored three goals in 38 games this season, scored twice Wednesday in the Penguins 4-0 Game 1 win against the Senators. Roberts, 41, has scored more than two goals three times in his 13 previous playoff seasons.
* Penguins center Evgeni Malkin
, who was second in the League with 106 points in the regular season, has three goals and five assists for eight points and a plus-2 rating in five combined regular season and playoff games against the Senators this season. Malkin, who has six assists in six career playoff games, was third among Atlantic Division forwards with an average of 21:19 of ice time per game.
* Philadelphia center Mike Richards
, who owns a black lab named Arnold, was a minus-12 in the 2006-07 regular season improved to a plus-14 this season. Richards, who led the team with 75 points, had three goals and two assists for five points and a plus-2 rating in four games against the Capitals this season.
* Flyers center Daniel Briere
, who scored the most goals for Philadelphia this season with 31, has 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in his last 34 playoff seasons. Briere, who idolized Mats Naslund
growing up, had a team-worst minus-22 rating.
* Capitals center Brooks Laich
, who was selected No. 193 overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has two goals and three assists for five points in his last five games while playing more than 16 minutes just once during that span.
* Washington, which won its last seven games, has not won a playoff series since 1998 when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings
in the Stanley Cup Final. The Capitals, who won their first division title since 2001, have scored six fewer goals, but have allowed two fewer goals than the Flyers.
* Rangers right wing Jaromir Jagr
, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins
in his first two seasons in the NHL, has been limited to one goal and two assists in nine combined regular season and playoff games against the Devils this season.
* Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan
, who scored the game-winning goal Wednesday night in the Rangers 4-1 defeat of New Jersey in Game 1, has a goal and two assists in his last three regular season and playoff games.
* Devils defenseman Paul Martin
, who scored New Jersey's lone goal in Game 1 against the Rangers, had a minus-3 rating in Game 1. Martin, who led the team with an average ice time of 22:31 during the regular season, played 22:31 in New Jersey's first playoff game.
* After scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points in his final four games of the regular season, Colorado center Joe Sakic
scored in overtime and added an assist Wednesday in the Avalanche's 3-2 win in Game 1 against the Wild.
* New Jersey center Mike Rupp
, who enjoys trap shooting, had five hits in the Devils first playoff game. Rupp, who scored the 2003 Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks
, had 104 hits during the regular season.
* Colorado defenseman Jeff Finger
, who had a plus-12 rating during the regular season, had a minus-4 rating in eight games against Minnesota this season.
* Wild right wing Brian Rolston
, who has never totaled more than two assists in a playoff season, assisted on Minnesota's first goal Wednesday night in Game 1. Rolston, who has scored at least 30 goals in his last three seasons, has just two goals in his last 13 playoff games.