Apr 30, 2013, 11:25 AM EDT
1. Is Corey Crawford a Stanley Cup-caliber goalie?
Most of the time, people don’t question a goalie tandem that just won the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals during the regular season. But 28-year-old starter Corey Crawford is 0-for-2 in career playoff series and really struggled last season, so people are bound to question this one. Crawford, along with backup Ray Emery, combined to give the Blackhawks a .923 save percentage in 2013, the second highest in the NHL. There were a couple of hiccups in March, but April was solid again. If Crawford isn’t up to the challenge, it will be interesting to see how quickly Joel Quenneville is willing to switch to Emery. It’s been a while, but Emery did backstop the Senators to the finals in 2007. That “what if” scenario, of course, assumes Emery is healthy enough to play. He’s been ruled out for Game 1 with a lower-body injury.
2. Can the Blackhawks get the power play going?
This might’ve been a bigger issue if Chicago hadn’t been so dominant five-on-five this season. Even with the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith, the ‘Hawks finished with the 19th-ranked power play, scoring on just 16.7 percent of their man-advantage opportunities. It’s a bit perplexing given all the top-end offensive talent they have, but the PP was a problem last year, too.
3. Will Dave Bolland be able to play? (And if he can, will he play well?)
Bolland missed the last three games of the regular season with a groin injury and has been ruled out for at least the first game against the Wild. The 26-year-old center has had a tough season, scoring just 14 points in 35 games despite opportunities to play with talented forwards. It appears the Blackhawks will enter the postseason with veteran Michal Handzus as their second-line center, which — no offense to Handzus — is hardly ideal. Bolland has proven himself in past playoffs and has 37 points in 49 games while playing well defensively and getting under the opponents’ skin. Chicago needs him to be that player again.
4. Can the Wild build on the last game of the season?
The pessimist may file this under “congratulations for not choking against a terrible team,” but Minnesota’s playoff-clinching victory Saturday in Colorado showed resolve, especially after Friday’s disaster against the Oilers. The Wild head into the playoffs with a 6-9-1 record in their last 16 games. Obviously, that’s not good. But head coach Mike Yeo — who may have been looking for a new job if the Wild hadn’t beaten the Avs — was feeling positive about his team after getting it done in Denver. “Let’s make it clear: We’re not done,” Yeo said. “We’re not going to sit on cloud nine and say this is a huge accomplishment. This is a step, a big step, a difficult step for us. Now that confidence is there.”
5. Can Ryan Suter shut down Chicago’s top guns?
OK, maybe “shut down” is unrealistic. How about “somewhat contain”? No NHL defenseman played more minutes than Suter did this season. The 28-year-old Norris Trophy candidate who (along with forward Zack Parise) signed for big money in the summer has so far been all his new team could ask for. Suter averaged 27:17 in ice time, scoring four goals and adding 28 assists. The rest of Minnesota’s defense will have to overachieve if the Wild have any hope of pulling an upset. Younsters Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin have zero playoff experience, so it’ll be up to Suter to lead the way.
May 27, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Give some credit to his linemates, including “energizer bunny” J.T. Miller.
May 27, 2015, 8:21 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
May 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT
Almost completely shut the door through two periods.
May 27, 2015, 12:09 AM EDT
Game 7. Friday in New York.
May 26, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT
“Boy, that escalated quickly…”
May 26, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
Ben Bishop pulled in the third period.
May 26, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
Timonen is averaging under 10 minutes of ice time per game in playoffs.
May 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Hadn’t scored since April 4.
May 26, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
New York scored to make it 2-0 soon after that.
May 26, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT
New York needs the win to force Game 7.
May 26, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT
“We’ve had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer.”
May 26, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT
New York facing elimination, yet again.
May 26, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’ve had some people reach out to me,” the Red Wings GM said.
May 26, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT
Meanwhile, GM Doug Armstrong says, “Show me a well-liked coach, and I’ll show you a losing coach.”
May 26, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
But let’s not call it the end of an era.
May 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT
Michael Russo of the StarTribune being the reporter.
May 26, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
“The Flyers have never intentionally tried to lose. That would put a foul taste in my mouth. “
May 26, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
“Does he ride guys hard and has he been on my case at times, where it’s made me angry? Yes. But he does it in the light of trying to make our team better, trying to make each individual player better.”
May 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Had a bad giveaway in Game 5, but those giveaways are going to happen occasionally.
May 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Could be held out of tonight’s potential series-clinching tilt.
- Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7 3
- Lightning get taken to ‘school of hard knocks’ in third-period collapse 10
- A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video) 11
- Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save 0
- Bob Clarke really doesn’t care for tanking 35
- Hitchcock re-signs for one more year in St. Louis 9
- Ducks win crazy Game 5, push ‘Hawks to edge of elimination 32
- WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Ducks, Game 5 of Western Conference Final 3
- In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’ 4
- Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract 38
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)