May 1, 2013, 11:47 AM EDT
1. When will Sidney Crosby return?
This question will linger over this series until No. 87 is on the lineup card.
Crosby has been out of action since Mar. 30 — when he suffered a broken jaw against the Islanders, ironically enough — and the dynamic of this matchup depends largely on his availability.
Why? Crosby’s scoring exploits against the Isles, mostly.
In 41 career games, Sid the Kid’s racked up 75 points against New York — the most he’s scored against any NHL club.
He also has a history of making big returns against the Isles. In Nov. 2011, he triumphantly returned from a concussion by scoring four points (2G, 2A) in a 5-0 whitewashing — his first game back after a 10-month layoff.
2. Is it Tavares’ time?
The second major subplot in this series will be the playoff debut of John Tavares, the 22-year-old phenom that led the Isles in scoring this year and has garnered serious Hart Trophy consideration.
This has been the most successful campaign of Tavares’ four-year career. He dominated the Swiss League during the lockout and was a point-a-game player in Team Canada’s Spengler Cup win.
When NHL play resumed, he continued that point-per-game clip and finished as the league’s third-leading goalscorer (28), pushing the Isles to their first playoff appearance since 2007.
All that said, this is Tavares’ first postseason. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the increased physical play and (presumably) being shadowed for the entirety of the series.
3. Can Iginla and Morrow be difference-makers?
It’s the latter two that will draw the most attention.
Morrow, 34, and Iginla, 35, are both looking for their first Stanley Cups, but will be counted on to play different roles than they did in Dallas and Calgary, respectively.
That’s not to say there aren’t big expectations.
Iginla has 49 points in 54 career playoff games and led the Flames to the 2004 Cup final, scoring 13 times.
Morrow’s last playoff run saw him notch 15 points in 18 games as he led the Stars to the Western Conference finals.
4. Will Fleury bounce back?
There are two Marc-Andre Fleurys.
The first is the acrobatic, flair-for-the-dramatic guy that backstopped the Pens to the 2009 Stanley Cup.
The other is the shaky, erratic guy that finished last postseason with a 4.63 GAA and .834 save percentage.
If Pittsburgh has any hopes of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug, the first Fleury will need to show up.
The 28-year-old acknowledged as much in speaking with NHL.com.
“That [’09 Cup] was a lot more fun than last year, that’s for sure,” he explained. “But you just learn from it. You learn from what happened in the past and try to use it to improve and be ready for these playoffs coming up.”
5. Can the Isles steal one (or more) on the road?
The top-seeded Penguins have home ice advantage, which might suit New York just fine.
The Isles have been road warriors this year, posting a 14-6-4 record away from Nassau — the third best road mark in the Eastern Conference.
The No. 8 seed knows that in order to capture this series, it’ll need to win at least one game at Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins are a stellar 18-6-0 this year.
It’s a challenge head coach Jack Capuano recognizes, and is ready to take on.
“[Pittsburgh] is ranked where they are for a reason. They’ve got some of the best players in the world,” Capuano told CBS New York. “But your ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup.
“If you’re going to get to the Stanley Cup you’ve got to beat the best teams.”
May 22, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT
Ducks trying to make life miserable for Chicago’s goalie.
May 22, 2015, 1:00 AM EDT
Game 4 goes Saturday in Chicago.
May 22, 2015, 12:12 AM EDT
So, what will the coach do for Game 4?
May 21, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT
Chicago’s power play came up empty.
May 21, 2015, 10:36 PM EDT
Talk about timing.
May 21, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT
Quite a sequence.
May 21, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
‘Showtime’ strikes late in the period.
May 21, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Coach Q, shaking it up.
May 21, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
Pittsburgh GM won’t stand in the way.
May 21, 2015, 6:58 PM EDT
Hit knocked the veteran d-man out of Game 3.
May 21, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
“To have a guy of his ilk, considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, taking a real good hard look at us in Buffalo after a 30th-place finish — I thought the process was great.”
May 21, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
Two-way contract for Karpat’s playoff scoring sensation.
May 21, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
A wide range of topics.
May 21, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
“It’s something that we’re working on everyday. We’re trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.”
May 21, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT
“Word choice matters, even when attempting to be humorous.”
May 21, 2015, 2:58 PM EDT
Recently represented the United States at the worlds.
May 21, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT
As many as six new head coaches could still be named.
May 21, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT
Coaches be getting paid.
May 21, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT
Some have wondered if he could replace goal-less Bryan Bickell.
May 21, 2015, 12:43 PM EDT
“We need to create a safe environment for the players.”
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- Video: Ducks hold off Blackhawks in Game 3 to take series lead 15
- (Video) PHT Extra: On Babcock, sticking to the process and housebuilding analogies 3
- Babcock predicts ‘pain’ for Leafs, who are a ‘massive, massive challenge’ 35
- Babcock wants to ‘put Canada’s team back on the map’ 44
- Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line 21
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? 70
- It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet 34
- Brodeur signs three-year deal to be Blues’ assistant GM 12
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy 172
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (172)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (90)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)