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.
Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 AM EDT
“We should have been 5-on-3.”
Apr 19, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
Ryan Getzlaf, Frederik Andersen and Corey Perry “are winning that battle,” he said.
Apr 19, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Eventful last few days for the captain.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
“It was one individual effort that made the difference today.”
Apr 18, 2014, 11:14 PM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT
Bolts just needed a spark, he explained.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 PM EDT
There was no penalty on the play.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT
Jimmy Howard had a shutout in the goaltending duel.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Can Dallas build on its late-game momentum?
Apr 18, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
Game 3 will be played in Montreal.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Naturally, the Blackhawks-Blues triple-overtime game was very popular.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT
Detroit was near the bottom of the pack in hits in the regular season.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
They took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the process.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
“We expected a tough series against (St. Louis).”
Apr 18, 2014, 7:43 PM EDT
The rookie had three assists last night.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
The last of the first round series is about to begin.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
Montreal has a 1-0 series lead.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT
This isn’t the first time he’s been fined.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
That’s a pretty bold statement, given that Nashville used to have blueliners like Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT
Apparently, the “Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks are on board” with relocating their minor-league affiliates closer to home.
- Getzlaf powers Ducks to Game 2 victory, 2-0 series lead over Stars 0
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind 69
- Detroit stuns favored Bruins with late goal to take Game 1 34
- Crashing Lightning: Montreal crushes Tampa Bay, takes 2-0 series lead 6
- Quenneville gets $25,000 fine for ‘bush-league move’ 12
- NHL looking into Quenneville’s ‘grabby’ gesture from Game 1 41
- Getzlaf to play Game 2, looks awful 20
- Video: PHT Extra — can Detroit exploit Boston’s blueline? 13
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 16
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 63