That’s still up for grabs, yet that really is the question: should Chicago be that happy to face a team that’s probably not the “third” best team in the West? Right now the Phoenix Coyotes (95 points, 35 regulation/OT wins) lead seventh-ranked Los Angeles (94, 34 reg/OT) and eighth-ranked San Jose (94, 33 reg/OT) but that could all change tonight. All three squads bring different headaches to the table, but here are Chicago’s season series results against each team:
vs. Phoenix: 1-2-1 vs. Los Angeles: 1-2-1 vs. San Jose: 2-2
Despite being the least likely opponent (by a marginal amount), the Sharks might strike Blackhawks fans as the ideal matchup. Both teams seem to have similar strengths like high-powered offenses and up-and-down goaltending, while there’s the obvious historical element of Chicago sweeping San Jose in the 2010 Western Conference finals. Oh yeah, the Blackhawks would also face their former Stanley Cup-winning goalie Antti Niemi if that happens.
So would that be the ideal matchup for Chicago? If not, who would be? Which team should scare the Blackhawks the most?
Final note: the Blackhawks are like the Red Wings in that they’re pretty weak on the road, too, so this should be a tough series for Chicago under most circumstances.
Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp
It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.
Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.
He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.
Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.
The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension
The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.
It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.
Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.