The Chicago Blackhawks can become the first team in the Western Conference to guarantee their spot in the playoffs with at least a point against the Nashville Predators tonight.
With that being the backdrop for this contest, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville decided to start goaltender Ray Emery for the second time in as many days, according to Chicago Sun-Times’ writer Mark Lazerus.
The rationale behind that move isn’t hard to decipher. Emery earned a 20-save shutout against Nashville on Saturday, so why not go with the hot hand?
Still, starting netminder Corey Crawford has struggled lately after starting the season on a high note. Meanwhile Emery has remained largely consistent with a 13-1-0 record, 1.95 GAA, and .923 save percentage in 17 games. So should he at least be considered as a potential starter for the playoffs?
For his part, Quenneville left the door open to the Chicago Blackhawks taking the unconventional approach of using both of their goaltenders in the postseason.
You never know,” Quenneville told Lazerus. “I don’t want to say no. We’ll see. I’m not worried about it right now.”
Quenneville still has 11 regular season games, including tonight’s, before he has to decide how he’ll handle his goaltending situation in the playoffs.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.