Discuss: Red Wings take 3-1 series lead

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Whether you lambaste the Chicago Blackhawks or simply praise the Detroit Red Wings’ key players, the bottom line is that Detroit is now off to a 3-1 series lead after shutting its division rivals down 2-0 in Game 4 on Thursday.

Let’s discuss it.

  • Jimmy Howard locked down a shutout and has only allowed three Blackhawks goals in four contests. Is he finally going to get credit as a key piece of the Red Wings’ puzzle. More directly: where does he rank among the best goalies in the NHL?
  • More on this later, but Jonathan Toews had one of his worst nights of the playoffs (and of his young postseason career). Can he get it together? If not, will he get the sort of blame that many other star players receive when they don’t produce in big games?
  • If you were building a team and you only had this series’ two coaches to choose from, would you go with Mike Babcock or Joel Quenneville?
  • The Blackhawks are down 3-1 in this series. They famously roared back from a 3-0 deficit against the Vancouver Canucks to tie a series, only to lose in Game 7. Can they complete a comeback this time?
  • How much of this series is about the Red Wings’ ability to stop the Blackhawks and how much of it is about Chicago’s offense short-circuiting? What do the ‘Hawks need to do to turn things around?

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.