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.
Sep 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
It would mark a record for the sale of a U.S.-based NHL team.
Sep 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Sep 2, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Bakersfield and Stockton will play in West Sacramento, Calif. on Dec. 18.
Sep 2, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
As many as five teams are reportedly interested in acquiring the 26-year-old.
Sep 2, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT
He was expecting a two or three year contract.
Sep 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
The 26-year-old refuted an Ilta-Sanomat story.
Sep 2, 2015, 3:35 PM EDT
The 23-year-old appeared in 38 games with Chicago last season.
Sep 2, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT
“I’m a realist. If nothing happens, that’s the way it is.”
Sep 2, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
Can he beat out Cam Talbot and Ben Scrivens?
Sep 2, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
“I know that it’s not just me that feels I can be a lot better and be the player that I know I’m going to be and I want to be.”
Sep 2, 2015, 11:47 AM EDT
Another diamond in the rough?
Sep 2, 2015, 10:59 AM EDT
He also wanted them to get swept in the opening playoff round against Nashville, apparently.
Sep 2, 2015, 9:54 AM EDT
After missing most of last season with a back injury.
Sep 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
It will be raised before the home opener on Oct. 10.
Sep 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Sep 1, 2015, 10:11 PM EDT
They were near the bottom of the league in that regard last season.
Sep 1, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT
“The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is.”
Sep 1, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT
They had strong attendance numbers last season too.
Sep 1, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
The Blues have a vacancy with Patrik Berglund out for at least four months.
- Ex-‘Hawks goalie Raanta tees off on former club 31
- Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls 115
- Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane? 81
- Hall of Famer Al Arbour passes away 22
- Poll: Who will be San Jose’s next captain? 24
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance 95
- Gio won’t go: Flames extend Giordano for six years, $40.5M 13
- Pens’ plan for now: Crosby starts as Kessel’s center 25
- O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem 31
- Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal 27
- Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls (115)
- Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance (95)
- Hawks’ biggest question: What happens with Patrick Kane? (81)
- Lucic jokes about running through Rask ‘like I did (to) another goalie’ (42)
- It’s Chicago Blackhawks day at PHT (40)