May 15, 2013, 12:38 PM EST
Do regular-season results matter?
Detroit will hope not.
The Blackhawks swept the season series 4-0 (though, to be fair, three of the games went to shootout or overtime) and clobbered the Wings 7-1 on Mar. 31, a game Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said “was embarrassing at times.”
The ‘Hawks are 7-0-2 in their last nine against the Wings — dating back to last season — and haven’t lost in regulation to Detroit in over two years (Apr. 10, 2011).
Can Howard best Crawford?
Most admit Chicago has the edge in terms of forward and defensive depth, so the goaltending position is hugely important.
Statistically speaking, Crawford had the superior opening round. He posted a 1.32 GAA and .950 save percentage to Howard’s 2.74 and .911, but it was Howard that stepped up when the stakes were high.
He went 3-1 in overtimes during Round 1 — stopping nine of 10 shots faced — and came up big again in Game 7, stopping 20 of 21 shots in the second and third periods as Anaheim looked to rally (and the only goal that beat Howard was a bank shot off Jonathan Ericsson‘s skate).
How tired are the Wings?
It was a tough opening round for Detroit, drawing arguably the worst travel option imaginable (nearly 2000 miles between Anaheim and Detroit).
The Wings made a number of cross-country flights during the series, went to overtime in four of the seven games and suffered several injuries along the way: Danny DeKeyser (broken thumb) was lost for the playoffs, Mikael Samuelsson aggravated a pectoral muscle injury, Jimmy Howard has a sore hamstring and Dan Cleary was a human bruise by Game 7.
Will Sharp stay hot?
After missing 20 games during an injury-plagued regular season, Patrick Sharp has taken the postseason by storm.
The 31-year-old forward led all Chicago skaters with five goals in the opening round, scoring two game-winning tallies.
Kane still managed to rack up five assists in five games, though, and gave Sharp plenty of credit for converting on his scoring chances.
‘‘He knows how to get open,’’ Kane told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘And when he does, he doesn’t miss often.
“He’s always finding himself a good chance, whether it’s around the net or in the slot.’’
What to do with Datsyuk and Zetterberg?
It’s a question Anaheim wasn’t able to answer in the opening round — Datsyuk and Zetterberg combined for 15 points against the Ducks, who simply couldn’t find the proper matchup for Detroit’s two best players.
That said, the ‘Hawks might have an answer.
They’ll return center Dave Bolland for this series after he missed the end of the regular season and entire first round with a lower body injury.
Bolland is a talented checking center who figures to slot into the third line alongside Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw — a unit that can play a physical, defense-first game but also provide offense when necessary.
Even though he’s just 26, Bolland’s carved a reputation as a solid postseason performer. He has 37 points in 49 career games and scored eight goals in 22 games en route to Chicago’s Stanley Cup championship in 2010.
Mar 7, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Plus five NHL games to watch this weekend.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:49 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Mar 7, 2014, 2:35 PM EST
Failed to “turn on the charm,” apparently.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:24 PM EST
More praise for them on Thursday after previously calling them the best team in the NHL.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
“I thought he was real good.”
Mar 7, 2014, 12:50 PM EST
Hosting the Isles at the Saddledome.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:07 PM EST
Click to see which teams could be most impacted.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:47 AM EST
In related news, Philly leads the NHL in penalty minutes.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:33 AM EST
But Jeff Vinik couldn’t sway him.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
It’s not looking good in DC.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:17 AM EST
Matt Moulson set to make his Minnesota debut.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
It’s been a rough few days for Mike Gillis.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:07 AM EST
The Capitals have waited a long time for him.
Mar 7, 2014, 8:15 AM EST
That and the rest of the links to start your day.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:34 AM EST
Ugly start for Vancouver vs. Dallas.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:23 AM EST
Worth staying up late for East Coast hockey fans.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:41 AM EST
He did it with style, too.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:32 PM EST
They might want to stay off of Twitter.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
He should provide commentary to as many Vancouver games as possible.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Jhonas Enroth is making the most of his opportunity, to say the least.
- TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis 7
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvirth makes Sabres debut 7
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 19
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 34
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 34
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 7
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 47
- Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition 14
- Video: Emotional day for Martin St. Louis ends in OT loss for Rangers 27
- Video: Caps, Flyers engage in another line brawl 53
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Sabres send Miller, Ott to Blues for package including Halak, Stewart (74)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)