Apr 30, 2013, 12:32 PM EST
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.
Dec 7, 2013, 12:15 AM EST
Jean-Sebastien Giguere remains undefeated.
Dec 6, 2013, 11:59 PM EST
Watch the video to decide for yourself.
Dec 6, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
Blackhawks have now lost three in a row.
Dec 6, 2013, 10:36 PM EST
Tough two days for San Jose.
Dec 6, 2013, 10:15 PM EST
Next summer, they’ll be talking about shrinking goalie sweaters.
Dec 6, 2013, 9:58 PM EST
Phoenix goes to Vancouver shorthanded.
Dec 6, 2013, 9:41 PM EST
Columbus dominated Minnesota 4-0 on Friday.
Dec 6, 2013, 9:02 PM EST
Recalled forward Zach Boychuk played Friday.
Dec 6, 2013, 8:28 PM EST
After 15 seasons and two Stanley Cup victories.
Dec 6, 2013, 7:55 PM EST
Worse yet, another high Tampa Bay draft pick delivered the blow.
Dec 6, 2013, 7:35 PM EST
According to Fox Sports Detroit.
Dec 6, 2013, 7:05 PM EST
Damaged defense in Dallas.
Dec 6, 2013, 6:31 PM EST
Meanwhile, Bryan Bickell might resume skating next week.
Dec 6, 2013, 5:45 PM EST
A roster shuffle is expected.
Dec 6, 2013, 5:13 PM EST
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane like where this is going.
Dec 6, 2013, 4:28 PM EST
In which we ask the question, does Team Canada need a player like Milan Lucic?
Dec 6, 2013, 3:37 PM EST
Tough break for the Swedish defenseman.
Dec 6, 2013, 3:00 PM EST
“I’m sure after a little while I won’t even notice it.”
Dec 6, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Veteran defenseman enjoyed his best years in Colorado.
Dec 6, 2013, 2:36 PM EST
Boston blueliner was hurt vs. Montreal last night.
- Report: Salary cap ‘may be around’ $70 million next season 14
- TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend 3
- Report: Laviolette a candidate to replace Capuano 19
- Sharks say Fleury was ‘shaky’ and ‘fighting it’ in 44-save victory 52
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) 57
- Seguin (concussion) cleared to play tonight 0
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ 89
- Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards? 10
- Malkin (lower body) to miss tonight’s game versus Sharks 20
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ 60
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ (89)
- Flyers’ Couturier: ‘We’re starting to believe in ourselves’ (60)
- Boychuk boarded by Pacioretty, taken off on stretcher (Update: has movement in extremities) (57)
- Lehtonen shines, Roussel agitates as Stars beat ‘Hawks (53)
- Video: Canucks’ Bieksa fights Rangers’ Boyle, then kicks Boyle’s helmet (52)