We’re down to the conference finals now and with Boston taking on Tampa Bay and San Jose facing off with Vancouver we’ve got a healthy amount of intrigue to deal with.
In the Eastern Conference you’ve got a classic coaching matchup with Claude Julien’s Bruins and Guy Boucher’s Lightning facing off. On one side you’ve got Boston with its punishing defense and goaltending featuring Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas while the Lightning have the trio of Martin St. Louis, Steve Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier along with 41 year-old Dwayne Roloson in goal.
In the Western Conference there’s the top team in the NHL in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo in goal and surrounded by Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and playoff hero Ryan Kesler. San Jose storms in with oodles of talent of their own with Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Dany Heatley and Antti Niemi in goal.
The matchups are great, the possibilities are many, but what we want to know from you is… Who is going to win the Stanley Cup now? Let us know in our poll who you’ve got raising Lord Stanley’s Cup in June.
Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead
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.
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 unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.