May 15, 2013, 12:38 PM EDT
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.
Aug 23, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
Signs minor league deal with Bridgeport.
Aug 23, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Could be the Sens future starter with Craig Anderson set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Aug 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
For once, no rehab and no new head coach.
Aug 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The post-Spezza era begins.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
The dynasty-era is well-represented in voting, as expected.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
The slogan is “Tradition on Ice.”
Aug 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Not exactly blasting his former employers.
Aug 22, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT
The TMNT pajamas really put it over the top.
Aug 22, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT
“We’re waiting for somebody now to step forward and take charge of this team.”
Aug 22, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
Despite missing 11 games, he set many career-high numbers.
Aug 22, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT
Spent the summer relocating his family to the Manitoba capital.
Aug 22, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT
Speculation on MLSE President & CEO’s next move.
Aug 22, 2014, 1:32 PM EDT
Disappointed with demotion last season, 20-year-old will get another shot in September.
Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT
Has to get his team on the winning track.
Aug 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Helps friend raise awareness at charity event.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Excess of defensemen has GM Peter Chiarelli in a bind.
Aug 22, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
At 23 years old, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.
Aug 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He’s the last free agent for the Avs to re-sign.
Aug 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They came back to the pack hard last season.
Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
He’ll have a battle to make the NHL next season.
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- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history 39
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- It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT 33
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 47
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 55