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.
Jul 23, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
Jim Benning, making deals.
Jul 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
“Any of the perceived animosity came from the outside.”
Jul 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT
His previously “yet-to-be-determined capacity” has been determined.
Jul 23, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
“My style and build might be better against the bigger guys.”
Jul 23, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT
Won a couple of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Jul 23, 2014, 10:48 AM EDT
Had seven goals with 21 assists last year for the Avs.
Jul 23, 2014, 10:23 AM EDT
The 23-year-old can now become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
Jul 23, 2014, 9:56 AM EDT
Derick Brassard and John Moore to go.
Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Barry Trotz continues Adam Oates’ alteration, at least for now.
Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Wednesday’s delectable spread of links.
Jul 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
They locked him up to a four-year deal on Tuesday.
Jul 22, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT
He spent last season playing in Switzerland.
Jul 22, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
The Cuban-American could help market the sport.
Jul 22, 2014, 7:38 PM EDT
Turning over a new leaf?
Jul 22, 2014, 6:13 PM EDT
That’s $1 million less than his reported asking price.
Jul 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
It’s believed to be worth $2.55 million overall.
Jul 22, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT
Another buy-low bargain like Mason Raymond?
Jul 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Jul 22, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
Also went to bat for Jumbo Joe.
Jul 22, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT
Coming off an impressive rookie season.
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 25
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 26
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 40
- Advancement? Leafs sign Booth for one year, $1.1M 25
- Leafs hire 28-year-old stats advocate as assistant GM 30
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 68
- Stars, Roussel agree on four-year, $8 million deal 3
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation 61
- Return that toaster: Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement broken off 53
- Report: Leafs sign Franson to one year, $3.3 million deal 8
- Kane, Toews could’ve commanded $13.8M cap hits, says agent (83)
- Babcock fires back over allegations that free agents avoid him (77)
- Babcock: Cleary a ‘calculated risk’ after playing last year ‘on one leg’ (70)
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (68)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)