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.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:37 AM EST
They’ll play again on March 8.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:03 AM EST
San Jose completed its disastrous month with a loss to Ottawa.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:42 AM EST
In other words, he’s probably not going to be dealt before the trade deadline.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:52 PM EST
The Coyotes might not be done dealing yet.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST
Steve Mason was solid in his first start since undergoing knee surgery.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:12 PM EST
Chicago also added Kimmo Timonen on Friday.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST
His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST
Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST
Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST
A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
He’s been released from the hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST
Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.
Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST
That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Was injured on a hit from Seth Jones.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.
Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Feb 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EST
The former Caps’ forward reunited with Bruce Boudreau.
Feb 28, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
He’s being evaluated in hospital.
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 18
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 48
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 0
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 4
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 39
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)
- The plummeting Coyotes are threatening to fall below the Oilers into 29th place (55)