They could’ve been out of the playoffs.
But, after three straight wins, the Chicago Blackhawks are past the Detroit Red Wings in a hard-fought seven-game series and there are certainly lessons to be learned heading into the Western Conference final against the L.A. Kings.
Adversity was something people may think the Blackhawks didn’t face in the regular season, on their way to a Presidents’ Trophy.
But the Red Wings gave them everything they can handle.
Jonathan Toews, an Olympic gold medalist, Stanley Cup champion and World Junior champion, admitted his club didn’t always have the most positive of vibes, when facing elimination, against the Red Wings.
“You have certain negative thoughts that kind of creep in. You try not to think about them, that you’re up against a tough team and the odds are against you. But we stayed positive. We stuck with it,” Toews told reporters.
“We just had that attitude that you take it one shift at the same time, you win one game at a time, anything can happen.
“I think we’re taking a lot of confidence out of that experience. So just goes to show, any situation we may come into in this next series, we’ll welcome the challenge.”
The challenge is the defending Stanley Cup champions, the L.A. Kings.
The Philadelphia Flyers are going to be without forward Dale Weise for the next three games as a result of a suspension handed out by the NHL’s department of player safety on Friday evening.
The league announced that Weise has been suspended due to an illegal check to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Korbinian Holzer during their game in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Weise was not penalized for the hit.
The incident happened midway through the second period of the Ducks’ 3-2 win, and came just as Holzer was skating with the puck in his own zone.
Here is a look at the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.
Holzer was not injured as a result of the hit.
The Flyers have been hit hard by suspensions so far this season. They played the first three games of the season without forward Brayden Schenn as he served a suspension that carried over from the 2016 playoffs. Defenseman Radko Gudas is still sidelined as he serves a six-game suspension for a hit this preseason.
Weise has yet to record a point in four games for the Flyers this season. He scored 14 goals and added 13 assists a year ago for the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.
This suspension will cost him $39,166.68 in salary.
He will be eligible to return to the Flyers’ lineup on Oct. 27 when they host the Arizona Coyotes. He will miss games against Carolina, Montreal and Buffalo.
One of the more unique blueliners in recent memory is hanging up his skates.
Douglas Murray, the big-bodied Swedish rearguard that appeared in over 500 NHL contests, has decided to retire.
“Thirty general managers do not want me,” Murray told Alftonbladet (translation per Yahoo). “I know that I can still play, but it’s over now.”
Murray, 36, is best remembered for his time in San Jose, where he used his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame to become one of the hardest hitters in the league.
His best years came between 2009-11, when he helped the Sharks advance to a pair of Western Conference Finals, and represented Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Murray also spent time with Pittsburgh and Montreal, before joining German League side Kolner Haie in ’14-15. He also had a brief stint with the Calgary Flames, though things never progressed beyond the professional tryout stage.
As mentioned above, Murray was a pretty interesting guy. A late bloomer, he was 25 upon making his NHL debut but quickly endeared himself to Shark fans.
Ivy-league educated, Murray and friends also created a beer dispensing system called the UberTap while at Cornell University.
A few years ago, Murray was rumored to be dating Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of Tiger Woods. Murray later shot down the reports, saying he and Nordegren were just friends.
Pressure’s on, Louis Domingue.
Domingue, now Arizona’s No. 1 goalie with Mike Smith (lower body) shelved indefinitely, will get another chance to prove himself when the Coyotes visit the Isles at Barclays on Friday night.
Things haven’t gone great for Domingue thus far.
Since coming on in relief of Smith in Ottawa, the 24-year-old has allowed seven goals on 30 shots in just over 36 minutes of action — leaving him with a ghastly .767 save percentage and 11.35 GAA.
(Not a typo. Eleven. Point. Three. Five.)
“He’s gotta play better,” coach Dave Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “He’s gotta play better than these two games he’s played. We’ll give him another opportunity, and hopefully he responds.”
The Coyotes haven’t provided a health update on Smith, who was flown back to Arizona earlier this week to be examined by team doctors. Justin Peters was recalled from the minors to serve as Domingue’s backup and looked sharp in relief of Domingue last night in Montreal, stopping 23 of 24 shots faced.
As such, Domingue has plenty on the line tonight. Peters is a 30-year-old veteran with over 80 games of NHL experience, so the Coyotes could turn to him if Domingue struggle yet again.
For the Isles, Jaroslav Halak gets the call in goal.
— Corey Crawford starts yet again for the Blackhawks, who are in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in the opposing goal.
— Pekka Rinne, sporting a 2.04 GAA and .934 save percentage thus far, gets the nod as the Preds head to Detroit. Petr Mrazek will be in goal for the Red Wings, after Jimmy Howard played well in a Wednesday win over the Rangers.
It seems Brian Campbell won’t be a healthy scratch, after all. According to the Chicago Tribune, the veteran Blackhawks defenseman is likely to be in the lineup tonight in Columbus.
It had previously been reported that Campbell would sit against the Blue Jackets, making way for the return of Trevor van Riemdsyk. Instead, the Tribune believes van Riemsdyk will replace either Michal Kempny or Gustav Forsling, though it’s also possible the ‘Hawks could dress seven defensemen.
As for winger Marian Hossa, he will definitely not play tonight due to a lower-body injury suffered Tuesday against the Flyers, the same game in which he scored his 500th career goal. Hossa is also questionable for Saturday’s home game against Toronto.
At this morning’s skate, Jonathan Toews was centering Tyler Motte and Richard Panik, with Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, and Patrick Kane sticking together on the second line.
Here’s Coach Q’s scrum from yesterday: