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 27, 2014, 12:42 PM EST
He won’t need to undergo surgery.
Dec 27, 2014, 12:05 PM EST
The Devils will dress 11 forwards tonight.
Dec 27, 2014, 11:28 AM EST
It’s been that kind of season for Columbus.
Dec 27, 2014, 10:43 AM EST
Dec 27, 2014, 10:17 AM EST
Paul MacLean’s name has been mentioned too.
Dec 27, 2014, 9:53 AM EST
Los Angeles is in a delicate position after a pre-holiday slump.
Dec 27, 2014, 1:00 AM EST
Dec 27, 2014, 12:05 AM EST
No official word from New Jersey.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:49 PM EST
This was over early.
Dec 26, 2014, 10:00 PM EST
It’s hitting the fan for New Jersey.
Dec 26, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
Long-time play-by-play man Bob Cole also recognized.
Dec 26, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Will be filling the spot vacated by the suspended John Scott.
Dec 26, 2014, 5:38 PM EST
Decent start for the Americans at the World Juniors.
Dec 26, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
New Jersey has three of the five oldest skaters in the NHL.
Dec 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
The Anaheim Ducks have been good — or is it lucky? — in one-goal games.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
Connor McDavid headlines a loaded host side that hasn’t won gold since 2009.
Dec 26, 2014, 1:28 PM EST
Dec 26, 2014, 12:43 PM EST
New Jersey off to a disappointing 12-17-7 start. The coach pays the price.
Dec 26, 2014, 12:34 PM EST
Brandon Sutter cleared.
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