Puck Headlines: Have the end times arrived for Canucks, Capitals?

Here are your Evening Puck Headlines and Previews: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

Preview: Vancouver Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks (9 p.m. EST; TV: CBC, VS). Blackhawks lead series, 3-2.

Keys for the Canucks: Canada's last hope this postseason to bring the Stanley Cup nord of da border for the first time since 1994 is one loss away from elimination, thanks to those rock-ribbed American heroes named the Blackhawks. (OK, so there are actually about five U.S.-born players on Chicago to about 15 Canadians.)

First key is a simply one: Don't self-destruct, which the Canucks most certainly did with two awful penalties late in Game 5. But just as important is to execute the kind of defense that had Chicago dead to rights in Game 3; as Ryan Kesler told the Sun: "We can't have the mindset going into the game that we want to have a 6-5 game because that's not our style. We want to play tight defensively and get the goals when they come."

The Canucks need Alex Burrows(notes) tonight. A non-factor for most of this series, he's one of the players that can match what should be a buoyant intensity from the Hawks at home.

Keys for the Blackhawks: Hope that the Dustin Byfuglien(notes) show wasn't a one-episode wonder; he was the catalyst for the Game 5 win. Improve their effectiveness on face-offs, which was a big advantage for the Canucks last game (especially in their own zone).

But above all else, continue to play stingy in front of Nikolai Khabibulin(notes), who has faced 21 shots or less in four of the five games in this series. Raise your hand if you thought Nik would lead the Blackhawks to within a win of the conference finals. Thought so.

Preview: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. EST; TV: VS., CBC). Penguins lead the series, 3-2.  

Keys for the Capitals: Two of the last three games have been overtime affairs that ended on deflected goals. In other words, anyone going into this game believing the Penguins have it in the bag is insane.

The Capitals played their best game of the series at even strength in Game 5, which is something to build on. Simeon Varlamov(notes) redeemed himself with a solid performance. The Alexander Ovechkin(notes)/Nicklas Backstrom duo was rolling. As Ovechkin said, the Capitals excel when their backs are against the wall, and they could have the emotional advantage with the Penguins owning a two-game safety net. But they'll need an effort that goes deeper than the Ovechkin line to win.

Keys for the Penguins: The Game 5 effort was helped along by the emotion of losing Gonchar, and the Penguins need match that intensity and surpass it. They need to carry the play with their forecheck, which has proven to defuse the Capitals' attack in most situations. They need another stout effort from the Jordan Staal(notes) line. They need Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) to avoid any softies against a Capitals team that needs a break.

Most of all, they need to know that most of the hockey world outside of Pittsburgh is wearing Caps colors tonight in hoping for a Game 7. So it's up to Sidney Crosby(notes) and Co. to disappoint them.

Meanwhile, in the rest of creation ...

• Forbes reports that the Penguins have "one of the fastest-growing team brands in all of professional sports." The Islanders, meanwhile, rank right behind Diet 7-Up with Pork for brand growth. [Penguins]

Mike Modano(notes) announces he'll return for a 20th NHL season with the Dallas Stars. And give up hanging out with Willa Ford on the set of her next blockbuster? [AP]

• Rick Tocchet gets the "interim" tag removed and receives a two-year contract as Tampa Bay Lightning head coach. For $550,000 per season, which is ... ahem ... "affordable." Seriously, there are newspaper classified ad salesmen with more job stability than Tocchet now has. [Lightning Strikes]

• Carolina on Ice looks at the Ward/Walker non-suspension flap in the Carolina Hurricanes/Boston Bruins series. [CoI]

• Two-thirds of Canadian fans believe the nation can support a seventh NHL franchise; 41 percent of those surveyed didn't think Jim Balsillie's bid will be what gets them the team. [CP]

• Steve Lepore on the new Versus show "Fanarchy," which is "Around the Horn" with fans on Web cams. Which is to say a more intelligent version of "Around the Horn." [Puck the Media]

• The Detroit Red Wings' Game 5 win over Anaheim produces boffo ratings locally. [Snapshots]

• Finally, here's Anaheim Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle with the morning-after press conference after the Red Wings' dominating Game 5 win:

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