Playoff Open Thread for Saturday, May 8th

Congratulations Hitmen, 2009-10 WHL Champs!

With the Flames missing out on the post-season this year, the Hitmen ensured that hockey fans in Calgary would have something to celebrate this spring by capturing their second WHL title with a 4-1 win  over the Tri-City Americans in front of a crowd of 15,335 at the 'Dome last night. After being ousted in the championship series in six games by Backlund's Kelowna Rockets last season, the Hitmen return to the Memorial Cup for the first time in eleven years, when they won the title as a fairly new franchise. This year's tournament will be held in Brandon, Manitoba with the Hitmen facing the host Wheat Kings whom they already sent packing earlier in the post season, along with defending champions the Windsor Spitfires, and either the Moncton Wild Cats or the Saint John Ice Dogs of the QMJHL, who are currently tied at two games a piece in their series. The schedule will be posted here as soon as it is announced. 

In Abbotsford, the Heat aim to take a 3-2 lead over the Bulldogs after a convincing 4-1 win to tie the series at twos in game four. New additions T.J. Brodie and Bryan Cameron will look to make a good impression in their pro debuts after flying out to Abbotsford to join the Heat earlier this week following the conclusion of the Colts' season on Tuesday. [Preview]  

And in World Championship news, Canada coasted to a 5-1 victory over Italy despite a slow start in their opening game of the tournament. Rene Bourque scored a goal and added an assist in his first appearance in Canadian colours, and looks to be fitting in nicely on a line with Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry, while Mark Giordano had no points and 2PIM. 

In NHL action tonight, the Penguins return to the Igloo where they'll try to solve Jaroslav Halak and take a 3-2 series lead with the help of Bill Guerin, who returns to the lineup after missing the last few games with an undisclosed ailment (CBC). After falling victim to a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Johan Franzen and Co. in game four, the Sharks have another chance to eliminate the Wings in front of the home crowd at H.P. Pavilion tonight (TSN). 

Enjoy tonight's games and share your admiration for Playoff Hero Jonathan Toews in the comments. 

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