Hawks focused on knocking Luongo off his game

Luongo1.jpgWith the Canucks taking on the Blackhawks for the second year in a
row in the playoffs, everyone became excited about the prospect of
seeing some more fireworks between the two teams after what went on last
year. These are two teams that are close to forming one of the more
abrasive rivalries in hockey, and at the nucleus of their hatred is the
constant battle between Roberto Luongo and anyone who comes close to the
Vancouver crease.

After Game 1, perhaps the Hawks should worry
less about how they’re ticking off Luongo and focus more on stopping the
Vancouver offense. Of course, that doesn’t seem to be their plan. Talking
with NHL.com,
Chicago forward Adam Burish makes it sound as if the
Hawks will be trying even harder to get Luongo off his game.

“Maybe it’s running him sometimes,” said Burish. “Maybe it’s spraying
snow in his face.”

“I think he was kind of in a zone,” Burish said of Luongo’s 36-save
performance in Game 1. “He made a couple early saves and he got in that
groove. But that’s the kind of guy he is. He gets in these grooves and
he gets feeling good and he’s awfully tough to beat. Sometimes you have
to find a way to get to him. You have to find a way to rattle him …
You got to try to find a way to get him out of that rhythm.”

Luongo
refused to the comments, obviously content to let his performance speak
for itself. While it’s certainly true that the Hawks need to do
whatever it takes to try and knock Luongo out of his comfort level in
net, I didn’t exactly walk away from Game 1 thinking that if only the
Hawks had run into Luongo a few more times they really might have had a
better chance.

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    Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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    What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

    The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

    It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

    Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

    He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

    That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

    Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

    Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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    The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

    It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

    He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

    Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

    “You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

    “From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

    After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

    Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

    Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
    Associated Press
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    Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

    According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

    Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

    At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

    Can they top that? Time will tell.

    Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

    Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

    Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

    The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

    Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.

    Flyers’ Neuvirth (lower body) will be between the pipes vs. the Devils on Saturday

    Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) of the Czech Republic stops a shot from the Dallas Stars in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
    Associated Press
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    Michal Neuvirth will make his first start of the month in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

    The 27-year-old missed five games with a lower-body injury. He was activated off the injured list earlier this week and served as Steve Mason‘s backup in Thursday’s game against Buffalo.

    Neuvirth has an 11-6-2 record with a 2.14 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage in 2015-16.

    He’s put up some solid numbers against the Devils in his career. Neuvirth has a 5-2-4 record with 2.03 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in games against New Jersey.

    Steve Mason, who’s coming off a 41-save performance in a win over Buffalo, hasn’t been as good against Saturday’s opponent.

    Mason is 0-7-0 lifetime against the Devils.

    Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m. ET.