Final Afternoon Games of the NHL Season

As I wrote in the previous entry, we all seemed to have forgotten how best-of-7 series work when everyone was celebrating the death of the San Jose Sharks.  Color me not surprised, and now we have two conference finals series that have the favorites leading 2-1 and trying to grab a win on the road to fly home dormie.

But, the coolest thing about this weekend’s Game 4s is the start time.  Boston at Tampa Bay starts today (Saturday) at 1:30 p.m. ET, while Vancouver will try again at San Jose on Sunday, with puck drop scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET.

These will be the last afternoon games of the season, as every game from here on out will start at 8:00 p.m. or later.  While hockey is certainly a nighttime sport, it is always neat to see important games played while the sun is high in the sky.  I’ve always felt like early games tended to favor the road team, as the crowd hasn’t had time to get revved up, and the home team might feel a little uncomfortable with the break in routine.  The road team is already uncomfortable because they are on the road, but if you have to play one last game before flying home, I’d have to think you would want to get started (and finished) as early as possible.  If the Canucks and Bruins are already going through the road team uneasiness, the last thing the Lightning or Sharks want to do is match their opponents’ altered routine.  Because of this, both Tampa Bay and San Jose will need to get off to a flying start and help the crowd forget that they’d rather be tanning.

Of the four teams remaining, only Vancouver has failed to win a recent afternoon game, and that’s because they haven’t had the chance. Tampa Bay throttled Pittsburgh 8-2 on the road, Boston destroyed Philadelphia 7-3 on the road, and San Jose beat Detroit 2-1 at home in recent afternoon games.  Vancouver has yet to play an early playoff game, but the Canucks were victorious at Los Angeles on March 5, the date of their most recent afternoon game.

Hope everyone has a good weekend and works in some NHL playoffs to their schedule.

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