When the Chicago Blackhawks organization to travels to San Jose to open the Western Conference finals, forgive them if they feel like they’re looking into a mirror (although maybe on the other end, the faces are a little bit tanner).
You can see Chicago’s fingerprints all over the Sharks organization. Need evidence? Let’s take a look at some of the front office members with a little bit of Blackhawk face paint in their past. (Much of this information is fished out from the Sharks media guide.)
Sharks GM Doug Wilson was a first round draft pick of the Blackhawks and ranks as the team’s all-time leader among defensemen in points, goals and assists. He was also the first captain in Sharks history.
Former Sharks GM Dean Lombardi is the son-in-law of Bob Pulford.
Wayne Thomas, current assistant GM and vice president was an assistant coach for Chicago during the 1987-88 season.
Darryl Sutter coached each team at one point.
Assistant coach Trent Yawney worked with the Blackhawks organization for 14 years and was the head coach from 2005-07. He was also drafted by the team in the third round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
Team scouts Rob Grillo and Dirk Graham have spent time in the organization.
Equipment manager Mike Aldrich‘s son Brad is the Blackhawks’ video coach.
So, in other words, the San Jose Sharks might as well be called Chicago Blackhawks West. Or perhaps they should be called the Sancago Black-Sharks? Maybe the Chicose Shawks? Whatever way you horribly splice the two team names together, it’s obvious that there are some deep connections between the two franchises. Heck, Jeremy Roenick even started his career with one team (Chicago) and ended it with the other (San Jose).
It’s just another wrinkle that hockey fans can add to an already intriguing series.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.