Ranger coach John Tortorella's line shuffle in the third period of Game 4 Thursday night was a boon to center Derick Brassard.
Tortorella moved Brassard between Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan while shifting Derek Stepan between Chris Kreider and Rick Nash. The effect of this shuffle was that Zdeno Chara played when the Stepan line was on the ice giving Brassard and his unit a little more room without the 6'7" defender in their way. It will be interesting to see if Tortorella can continue to ice this alignment without the last change in Boston Saturday night.
Kris Letang has far and away been the best defenseman in the playoffs to date.
He leads all blueliners with 16 points and in fact is tied for second in overall scoring with teammate Evgeni Malkin just behind the Bruins David Krejci. Defense partner Douglas Murray has certainly been wowed by Letang's play. "He's pretty impressive," said Murray. Letang is also up for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman during the regular season. Needless to say, he should be at the top of your defenseman draft lists for next season.
The Boston power play has been much improved since the promotion of Torey Krug.
Against the Rangers in the second round the Bruins are 3 for 9 with the man advantage and Krug has scored two of those goals. "I think that we're just not passing up those good opportunities," Krug said. "You'd see sometimes in the past we'd be passing the puck and we'd want to make that extra pass. But this time, we're shooting pucks, we're getting pucks to the net and guys are taking away Henrik (Lundqvist)'s ice." If Krug is available in your playoff pool and you have the ability to make roster changes you may want to consider picking him up.
James Neal notched a hat trick to help the Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference final with a 6-2 win over the Senators on Friday night.
Beyond the 4-1 series win, the best sign for the Penguins is that their sniper has found his mark of late, recording five of his six playoff goals over the past two games. Neal also added an assist as the Penguins proved to be too talented and far too deep for the Senators to contend with. After missing Game 4 because of an undisclosed injury, Brenden Morrow returned and scored the game's first goal early in the first period. Kris Letang potted a goal and had two assists, while Evgeni Malkin got a marker and a helper. Rest might be the only thing that could slow this team down as the dangerous Penguins have now scored 13 goals over their last two tilts.
Eric Staal (knee) "hopes" to ride on the stationary bike by next week, according to Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford.
Staal suffered a third-degree, right-knee sprain of his MCL as the result of a knee-on-knee collision at the IIHF World Championships. He's expected to need three months to rehab the injury, and this is a very good first sign that he's feeling better.