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.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Whether he does or not will impact the Flyers’ roster.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
A big defenseman from Lake Superior State.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Burly power forward’s in the midst of a disappointing season.
Mar 11, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT
“It’s great to have him around,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT
Dallas GM Jim Nill also released a statement.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT
“We need to take this one, especially if there’s a four-point swing,” says d-man Brendan Smith.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Rough season for him, to say the least.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Suffered third straight loss on Monday night vs. Toronto.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
“The fans won’t have it. The players won’t have it. And even if you hire a new GM, there is no way he’ll have it.”
Mar 11, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT
He thinks the Panthers have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup before he retires.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
The Calgary Flames were already missing several forwards.
Mar 11, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT
Nothing’s official, but it sounds like he’ll stick with the Buffalo Sabres after all.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT
Washington desperately needs the two points.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:26 AM EDT
It was mostly a night of disappointments
Mar 11, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
“We need to be men.”
Mar 11, 2014, 12:39 AM EDT
It just keeps getting worse.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:29 AM EDT
It’s an MCL injury, according to Patrick Roy.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
It’s also his first point since Jan. 10.
Mar 10, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
At least they have Ales Hemsky.
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 4
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 33
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 10
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 25
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 17
- Sens’ Ceci won’t return after Weber’s shot lacerates his ear (Update) 8
- Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’ 25
- Nolan gets a game for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Joensuu 45
- It doesn’t sound like 3-on-3 overtime is going to be a thing 39
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- Report: Flyers table ‘substantial offer’ for Kesler, also inquiring about Edler (59)