Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has missed the last five games for Detroit with an upper body injury and he’s going to miss two more before the season is over with. With the Wings closing out their season with two games against the playoff hopeful Chicago Blackhawks, Kronwall will be sitting out those final two games so he’s ready to go at the start of the playoffs next week.
We’re not sure if that news is more upsetting for Red Wings fans or Dallas Stars fans as Kronwall’s presence on the ice is one that opponents must take note of lest they get physically crushed. For the Stars, they were hoping Detroit could have him out there to disrupt the Blackhawks and help the Stars attempt to get into the playoffs by knocking off Chicago.
Instead, Chicago gets to face off against an injury weary Detroit team that’s without Kronwall and likely without Henrik Zetterberg as well. While Detroit could still land the two seed in the Western Conference playoffs (they’re just one point behind San Jose), it’s clear their focus is just to get everyone healthy and ready for the playoffs.
This doesn’t mean that Detroit is going to roll over in their final two games with Chicago, rivalries have that way of making sure the blood pressure still runs high, but with Chicago having all the motivation in the world to win and Detroit trying to not get anyone else hurt you could see how a little heat might be off of tonight’s game in Detroit.
The wait is finally over. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is about to begin.
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks received some time to lick their wounds after three grueling playoff rounds, so expect Game 1 to be fun, even if there might be a subtle bit of rust here or there.
The star power is considerable. The beards are burly (at least on the Sharks’ side). It’s time to get cracking.
Game 1 airs on NBC. You can also stream it via the link below and enjoy some “NHL Live” coverage leading in.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Plenty of people believe that the San Jose Sharks’ defense is superior to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ personnel, but it’s one thing to be better on paper. When you’re on the ice, against a speedy and talented team, can you really stop the Penguins?
All signs point to sorely underrated Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic drawing the difficult assignment of trying to slow down Sidney Crosby.
Vlasic, a former Team Canada teammate of Crosby (as you can see from this post’s main image), realizes that he’ll have his hands full. In fact, he seems to believe that this will be an even tougher challenge than trying to solve St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.
The fantastic all-around defender isn’t exactly expecting to reinvent the wheel in his strategy against Crosby.
“It will be the same as in the first three series,” Vlasic said, via The Hockey News. “We’re playing against the top players on every time – Sid, (Evgeni) Malkin and those types of guys for Pittsburgh. Me and (Justin Braun) will just keep doing what we did, taking away time and space and hopefully it works out.”
The two players have had glowing things to say about each other for some time, but don’t be surprised if this high-level competition turns those happy thoughts into hard feelings.
It stands as one of the matchups to watch in what could be a fresh and fascinating Stanley Cup Final.
This summer looks like it could be one of changes for the Detroit Red Wings, even beyond the most obvious storyline of Pavel Datsyuk‘s future.
One area where the Red Wings would like to make some tweaks is in net, namely in trading Jimmy Howard. The Detroit Free-Press points out that GM Ken Holland admitted that moving the former franchise netminder “might be good for the organization.”
It’s reasonable to wonder what kind of market there will be for Howard, whose deal ($5.29 million cap hit through 2018-19) looks pretty tough to stomach on paper.
Maybe it’s best to consider the Red Wings’ options if Howard starts the 2016-17 season off on a strong note, or something of that nature. Perhaps an expansion draft could “solve” that problem if Detroit cannot find any takers?
The Red Wings remain forward-thinking and patient, which likely explains why the Free-Press focuses on their confidence with prospect Jared Coreau.
“In the big scheme of things, he’ll play in Grand Rapids for another year, but now we know he can play a lot of minutes if needed,” Goalie coach Jeff Salajko said. “Jimmy Howard played four years in the minors. We’re not rushing Jared, but he is going to be an NHL goalie, there is no doubt in my mind about that.”
In other words, a pairing of Petr Mrazek and Coreau wouldn’t just be a cost-effective duo … it might just be the Red Wings’ ideal scenario in the not-too-distant future.
From the NHL:
Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.
Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.