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 26, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
They got a big task ahead of them.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Habs and Wild look to advance with Game 6 wins.
Apr 26, 2015, 6:18 PM EDT
Minnesota’s earned the right to challenge Chicago again.
Apr 26, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT
He’ll undergo further testing in the not too distant future.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
Brian Elliott is on in relief.
Apr 26, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
That’s one Allen has to have.
Apr 26, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He suffered two concussions this season.
Apr 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
The newly appointed Edmonton executive is already busy in his new role.
Apr 26, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Eric Fehr would be ready for the second round.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Philly fired Craig Berube on April 17.
Apr 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
He last played at the 2006 tournament.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
He didn’t play the second half of Friday night’s win.
Apr 26, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
Chorney and Dumoulin could also head back to Wilkes-Barre for their playoff run.
Apr 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
He’s been a healthy scratch for three games.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Blues and Sens need wins to force Game 7
Apr 26, 2015, 12:07 AM EDT
Another big rally at the Saddledome.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
A six-game series that felt like (at least) seven.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT
Wild stuff at the Saddledome tonight.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
Vancouver looking to avoid elimination for the second straight game.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT
Zero goals in five playoff games.
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- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance 42
- Crosby joining Team Canada at Worlds 15
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today 12
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 25
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 49
- Red Wings smother Lightning, take 3-2 series lead 22
- Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7 43
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 6
- Lucic issues statement on father’s passing 10
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (108)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)
- Preds, Forsberg finally solve Darling, push series to Game 6 (76)