Chicago Blackhawks take No. 1 spot in West

Hawks4.jpgWith two games to go in the 2009-2010 regular season, the Chicago
Blackhawks have taken over the number one seed in the Western conference
after tonight’s 6-5 win over the St. Louis Blues. It was closer than it
should have been, however, as the Blues stormed back with four
unanswered goals to give the Hawks one heck of a scare. The Sharks and
Hawks are now tied at 109 points after 80 games, but have the tie
breaker over the Sharks due to having won more games (51 to 49).

Hawks set franchise highs with 51 wins and 109 points, fitting for a
season in which the franchise may have it’s best shot to contend for a
Stanley Cup. With salary cap issues looming, big roster changes could be
on their way this summer.

Despite the great win and the big news
as the Hawks take over the top spot in the West, questions will forever
shroud the Hawks regarding the goaltending situation. Joel Quenneville
has turned to Anti Niemi as his goaltender for the postseason, yet after
several nice games in a row the cracks showed once more.

it was just a great effort by the Blues, but for a team that has faced
nothing but uncertainty on defense and in net for the past two months,
five goals allowed right before the playoffs is alarming.

All the
same, congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for an incredibly
successful season. Still some work to do however. Here’s the remaining schedules for the Hawks and the San Jose Sharks:

Chicago  San Jose 
@Colorado – Fri. 4/9        Vancouver – Thu. 4/8
Detroit – Sun. 4/11 Phoenix – Sat. 4/10

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    Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

    Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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    Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

    Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

    Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

    Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

    We’ll start to find out tonight.

    Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


    Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

    Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

    Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

    Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

    Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

    Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

    Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

    Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
    1 Comment

    Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

    “We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

    So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

    That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

    The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

    “My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

    That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

    Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen