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.
Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 AM EDT
“We should have been 5-on-3.”
Apr 19, 2014, 1:29 AM EDT
Ryan Getzlaf, Frederik Andersen and Corey Perry “are winning that battle,” he said.
Apr 19, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
Eventful last few days for the captain.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
“It was one individual effort that made the difference today.”
Apr 18, 2014, 11:14 PM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 10:40 PM EDT
Bolts just needed a spark, he explained.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:27 PM EDT
There was no penalty on the play.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT
Jimmy Howard had a shutout in the goaltending duel.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Can Dallas build on its late-game momentum?
Apr 18, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
Game 3 will be played in Montreal.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Naturally, the Blackhawks-Blues triple-overtime game was very popular.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:51 PM EDT
Detroit was near the bottom of the pack in hits in the regular season.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
They took a 1-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the process.
Apr 18, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT
“We expected a tough series against (St. Louis).”
Apr 18, 2014, 7:43 PM EDT
The rookie had three assists last night.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
The last of the first round series is about to begin.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
Montreal has a 1-0 series lead.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT
This isn’t the first time he’s been fined.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
That’s a pretty bold statement, given that Nashville used to have blueliners like Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter.
Apr 18, 2014, 5:06 PM EDT
Apparently, the “Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks are on board” with relocating their minor-league affiliates closer to home.
- Getzlaf powers Ducks to Game 2 victory, 2-0 series lead over Stars 0
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind 69
- Detroit stuns favored Bruins with late goal to take Game 1 34
- Crashing Lightning: Montreal crushes Tampa Bay, takes 2-0 series lead 6
- Quenneville gets $25,000 fine for ‘bush-league move’ 12
- NHL looking into Quenneville’s ‘grabby’ gesture from Game 1 41
- Getzlaf to play Game 2, looks awful 20
- Video: PHT Extra — can Detroit exploit Boston’s blueline? 13
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 16
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 63