It hasn’t exactly been an easy season for either the Los Angeles Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks, but when they meet up at United Center in Chicago tonight (8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN) they come into the game with different mindsets.
Los Angeles comes in playing some inconsistent hockey. They’ve lost their last two games and seven of their last 11. In that jumble of games they’ve also got a three-game win streak mixed in. With that frustrating mix of wins and losses, you can see why the Kings are in a battle to get in the playoffs.
The guy who’s the key to victory for the Kings? None other than Mike Richards. L.A. is 17-3-5 when Richards gets a point and while there’s a host of other talent there, Richards is apparently the guy helping make things happen.
Anze Kopitar hasn’t been too bad himself lately as he comes into tonight’s game on a six-game point streak. Even if Marcel Dionne doesn’t like how he’s played this season, he’s handled the criticism well. Fortunately for them they’ve still got Jonathan Quick in goal to save them.
Quick’s season has to have been frustrating for him as he’s 27-19-11 (technically three more losses than wins) but has goalie stats that put him in the top five in the NHL including a goals against average of 2.00 on the nose. You wouldn’t think getting more than two goals a game would be hard for a team with Richards, Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Brown but even with Carter added to the mix things have still been inconsistent.
Chicago, on the other hand, has been playing well even in spite of not having Jonathan Toews out there for them. While Toews is out of tonight’s game, the Blackhawks have been getting great play in goal from Ray Emery. Emery will be starting his fifth game in a row as he’s wrestled the starting job away for the time being. His solid play has helped Chicago stay above the fight for playoff spots in the West.
Helping make Emery’s life easier is Marian Hossa who comes into today’s game scoring points in bunches. Hossa has 10 points in his last 13 games and he along with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane have been picking up the slack in a big way since Toews went out with a concussion. They’ll all need to be on point tonight to score goals on the defensively stingy Kings.
As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.
Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.
Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.
Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:
Things could get ugly in Game 3:
One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:
Also, lateness of the check:
The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.
The Brooks Orpik hit on Olli Maatta isn’t the only factor in lineup changes for Game 3 between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Maybe the most interesting change starts on the Penguins’ bench … where they likely hope that tweak will stay for at least one night.
Marc-Andre Fleury is apparently healthy enough to suit up for the Penguins, although it appears as though Matt Murray will start:
That’s a clear sign that “The Flower” is healthy enough to play, as Murray would be an injury or a coach’s pull away from giving up the net to Fleury. (One would assume.)
Murray has been fantastic for the most part since taking over for Jeff Zatkoff during this postseason, yet you know how the playoffs can be; people may clamor for Fleury after a loss even if it’s not really Murray’s fault.
Circling back to that Orpik hit, the dominoes seem to fall this way:
Penguins: Derrick Pouliot replaces injured Maatta.
Capitals: Dmitry Orlov in for suspended Orpik.
PHT will make note if there are any swerves.
Ever since the NHL kept obstruction in check and thus placed a greater emphasis on speed and skill, we’ve seen some fascinating Calder Trophy debates. This 2015-16 season may present the toughest call in recent memory.
The league named the three finalists on Monday, and even that couldn’t have been easy. They are Edmonton Oilers wunderkind Connor McDavid, breakout Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and high-scoring Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin.
(The NHL made it official here.)
All three make for fantastic debates.
Do you go with McDavid, easily the youngest of the bunch, who produced gaudy per-game numbers but missed almost half of the season?
Perhaps you lean toward Gostisbehere, who also scored at an impressive clip per-game for a defenseman while playing a huge role in the Flyers’ surprising run to a playoff spot?
Or, do you go with Panarin, the guy who easily leads rookies in total points (77, 21 more than Jack Eichel‘s second-place finish) and was so effective that his bonuses will really put the Blackhawks in a bad way? Or do you penalize Panarin for being a little older and for the undeniable benefits he received from riding shotgun with Patrick Kane?
Then again, plenty will merely spend their time griping about “snubs,” as the likes of Jack Eichel and John Gibson were not in the final three despite outstanding work.
Yep, this should be fun … just be nice during your debates.
There’s only one game on the docket tonight, but it’s a marquee matchup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals split their games in DC and now switch to Pittsburgh for Game 3. We’ve seen great work from the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom and maybe especially Braden Holtby so far … not to mention a considerable cast of supporting characters.
Which team will take a 2-1 lead in this captivating series?
We’ll find out on NBCSN. You can stream the game live via the link below as well:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE