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.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Can he fit in well enough to embrace this opportunity?
Aug 29, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
Should they make a move or play hardball with free agents?
Aug 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Jeff Skinner was also on the ice Friday.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Can’t top No. 4.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’m sleeping with it tonight.”
Aug 29, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT
The Chicago Blackhawks let him walk.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Team has needs at center.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Played 20 career games with Boston.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Was schedule for Ontario Superior Court Sept. 8
Aug 29, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
A pair of hilarious ads to promote the game.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Heading into a contract year, lots on his shoulders.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT
Scored 135 goals and 299 points in four seasons with the London Knights.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Spent the past two seasons in Edmonton.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Their cap situation and defensive logjam might lead them to make a trade.
Aug 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
“It’s amazing how an accident like this puts things in perspective.”
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They won the Presidents’ Trophy, but fell in the second round.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT
Will one be named this season?
Aug 28, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
The new coach wants the Penguins to ‘lessen the load.’
Aug 28, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
It wasn’t even close.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
They have a lot of players on their roster with something to prove.
- Fanspeak: Bobby Orr named best Bruin in franchise history 24
- Video: Bruins participate in commercials to promote NHL 15 5
- Oilers ink Schultz to one-year deal 2
- It’s Boston Bruins day on PHT 40
- Fanspeak: Dominik Hasek voted greatest Sabre in franchise history 34
- Is Colorado’s rise a fair example of what might happen in Buffalo? 7
- It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT 19
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 13
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 6
- Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha 21