Apr 30, 2013, 12:32 PM EDT
1. Can Jonathan Quick rediscover his Conn Smythe Trophy form?
If April was any indication, yes.
While Quick’s overall numbers on the year weren’t stellar — 18-13-4, .902 save percentage, 2.45 GAA — his stats in the final month suggest he’s rounding into form.
The 27-year-old went 6-3-1 in April, posting a 2.25 GAA and, perhaps most importantly, a .917 save percentage.
The bigger question, though, will be if Quick can put together a string of consecutive efforts, something he accomplished last postseason but has had problems doing this year (Quick’s longest winning streak was three games, and he only did it once.)
2. Can the Blues score enough goals?
St. Louis finished 17th in the NHL in goals per game (2.58), but struggled to score in April. That included a stretch where the Blues notched just seven regulation goals in seven games…but they went 5-2-0 over that same stretch, alleviating some concern.
The playoffs, though, are a different beast.
Teams don’t have success if they’re not producing offensively — something St. Louis learned the hard way against the Kings last year, scoring just six times during a four-game sweep out of the second round.
This year, the offensive x-factor is TJ Oshie, who underwent stress fracture surgery (ankle) two weeks ago.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock says Oshie will be ready to go, and that’s key for St. Louis’ offensive outlook. The 26-year-old had 20 points in 30 games this year and led the Blues in power-play assists, with eight.
3. Elliott or Halak?
This year, Brian Elliott‘s the No. 1.
And with good reason. The 28-year-old was the league’s hottest netminder in April, capturing second star of the month on the strength of an 11-2-0 record, 1.28 GAA and .948 save percentage.
Of course, things can change quickly in the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if Halak makes an appearance at some point, especially since he’s the more experienced postseason netminder, having backstopped Montreal to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010.
4. Who wins the physical battle?
The term “meat grinder” has been used to describe this series.
Both teams love to get in on the forecheck and punish opposing defensemen, so the battle could be decided by which blueliners are able to withstand the punishment.
5. How much will the Kings miss Willie Mitchell?
Mitchell was an underrated piece of Los Angeles’ 2011-12 success. He scored a career-high 24 points during the regular season and shouldered a huge workload in the playoffs, averaging 25:19 TOI per game through 20 contests.
Only Drew Doughty played more minutes.
Mitchell’s loss will especially be felt most in two important playoff departments: penalty killing (he averaged a team-high 3:41 shorthanded TOI per game) and shot-blocking (led the Kings with 55).
LA will hope the void can be filled by trade deadline acquisition Robyn Regehr, but that might be asking a lot from a guy that hasn’t participated in the postseason since 2008.
May 24, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
He’s gone nine games without a point.
May 24, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
He has not played since April 24.
May 24, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
He missed Game 4 due to an undisclosed injury.
May 24, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
He owes St. Louis one more season.
May 24, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
He has not coached since being fired by the Penguins last June.
May 24, 2015, 2:05 AM EDT
“Finally got a bounce.”
May 24, 2015, 12:52 AM EDT
Chicago wins another long overtime game.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
This series heads back to California, all even.
May 24, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT
Double overtime? Sure, why not?
May 23, 2015, 10:54 PM EDT
Chicago had the lead. Gave it up. Tied it up again.
May 23, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT
Trying to get under the opposition’s skin.
May 23, 2015, 9:18 PM EDT
Blackhawks and Ducks going at it.
May 23, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT
But emphasized the need to remain “professional.”
May 23, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT
The reaction to the big news continues to pour in.
May 23, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT
Anaheim can put Chicago on the brink of elimination.
May 23, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Claude.”
May 23, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
He suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 3.
May 23, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT
Oilers’ prospects Leon Draisaitl and Marc-Olivier Roy were among those who received 10-minute misconducts on Friday night.
- Video: ‘It’s not the ideal situation,’ says OT hero Vermette of being a healthy scratch 5
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks 46
- Video: Ducks score three goals in 37 seconds to take third-period lead 8
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 4 0
- Cooper on replacing Bishop: ‘That is asinine to me’ 25
- Vermette, Teravainen return for Blackhawks in Game 4 15
- Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4 24
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL 53
- All eyes on Lundqvist 11
- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 12
- 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)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)