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.
Mar 29, 2015, 9:14 AM EDT
Both teams have depleted bluelines.
Mar 29, 2015, 1:40 AM EDT
Vancouver leads L.A. by three points in the Pacific Division.
Mar 29, 2015, 1:05 AM EDT
Vancouver creates breathing room in the Pacific Division.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
The Wild defeated the L.A. Kings 4-1.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT
Max Pacioretty scored the winner.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Toronto won for just the sixth time in 34 games.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
Collided with Cody Goloubef in the first period.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
He allowed two goals on nine first period shots.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:55 PM EDT
Finished off a nice passing play by Jagr and Huberdeau.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Ottawa’s starter tested early.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
The Pens defenseman will remain in hospital overnight.
Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
He appeared in eight games with Columbus this season.
Mar 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
It’ll cost him $3,897.85.
Mar 28, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT
Detroit moves five points up on Boston in the Atlantic with the win.
Mar 28, 2015, 4:38 PM EDT
Anaheim currently has the NHL’s best record as well.
Mar 28, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Big win for the B’s.
Mar 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
The West’s first ticket gets punched.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT
There’s plenty of debate about it being dirty or clean.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT
The only update so far is he’s “unlikely to return.”
Mar 28, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
A positive trend on Saturday.
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks desperate for wins, Penguins seek definitive end to slump 0
- Video: Bolts lose Garrison, Paquette in loss to Wings 3
- Bruins ruin Lundqvist’s return 26
- Video: Letang hospitalized after Doan hit (Update) 42
- Bruins chalk Rask’s absence up to dehydration (Update) 4
- Happy returns: Datsyuk plays for Detroit 2
- Gearing up: Malkin, Hornqvist return for Pens 0
- Five big games to watch this weekend 8
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 34
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)