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.
Jan 26, 2015, 6:16 PM EST
The Avalanche are trying to claw their way into the playoffs.
Jan 26, 2015, 5:52 PM EST
Minnesota had three healthy goaltenders on its roster.
Jan 26, 2015, 4:59 PM EST
Who will play this week?
Jan 26, 2015, 4:22 PM EST
This might be the result of fighting in back-to-back games.
Jan 26, 2015, 3:31 PM EST
Will Mikhail Grabovski step up?
Jan 26, 2015, 3:12 PM EST
The post-All-Star Game portion of the season isn’t starting any better for Buffalo.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
He’s been overseeing co-coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EST
He didn’t end up playing in the All-Star Game.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:31 PM EST
Remember, the club opted not to amnesty his contract last June.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:23 PM EST
Canucks will give Frank Corrado a chance to show what he can do.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:12 PM EST
Columbus’ star center is having a nice little run at the moment.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:05 PM EST
They also summoned Josh Anderson.
Jan 26, 2015, 11:23 AM EST
“Everybody felt like I just want a car to drive it.”
Jan 26, 2015, 10:55 AM EST
Ilya Kovalchuk deemed it a “worthy tournament,” though.
Jan 26, 2015, 9:51 AM EST
Including an intriguing game between the Islanders and Rangers.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:47 AM EST
Monday’s collection of links.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:49 PM EST
“We’re so proud of our city for showing that hockey is such a big deal here.”
Jan 25, 2015, 9:25 PM EST
“This is something I’ll remember for a very long time.”
Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs
Jan 25, 2015, 8:59 PM EST
“I remember them being quiet in the end when we won.”
Jan 25, 2015, 8:16 PM EST
29 goals in all.
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 12
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 104
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 23
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 16
- Marc-Andre Fleury would like to remind the Columbus crowd that the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets in the playoffs 32
- Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history 27
- Supercut: Every goal from the highest-scoring period in All-Star Game history 7
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 4
- Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast 13
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (104)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)