Bryan Bickell

Playoffs tonight: Blackhawks look to clinch spot in Stanley Cup finals


Now that the Eastern Conference finals are over and Boston has their spot in the Stanley Cup finals booked, it’s up to the Western Conference to figure things out. Chicago can make that very easy by winning tonight.

Game 5: Chicago Blackhawks host Los Angeles Kings (8 p.m. ET, NBC/Live Extra)
Chicago leads series 3-1

It feels almost as if the writing is on the wall for tonight’s Game 5 in Chicago. The defending champion Kings are down 3-1 in the series and face a do-or-die situation on the road where they’ve won just once in this postseason (Game 5 against St. Louis in Round 1). These Blackhawks are just a tad better than the Blues and they’re 8-1 at United Center in the playoffs. That sense of dread coming from L.A. is almost palpable.

If the Kings are going to win a second road game in these playoffs and extend the series to a Game 6, they’ll have to find a way to get their offense going away from Staples Center. In eight road games they’ve got just 11 goals and have been beaten 2-1 in six of their seven road losses. While you can point to their defense and even Jonathan Quick letting them down in Thursday’s Game 4, there’s no doubt the lack of goals has been a major factor in their lack of road success.

Chicago, on the other hand, looks like they’ve got things under control. Getting in a situation where you can end the series on home ice before it’s a Game 7 situation has to feel pretty good. Even better for the Blackhawks is that they get defenseman Duncan Keith back from suspension tonight. Some of the gaffes they had in Game 4 without him aren’t likely to reoccur. Sorry Sheldon Brookbank, but your one-game audition wasn’t so hot.

If the Kings are going to win Game 5 they’ve got to get someone other than Slava Voynov to score goals. Voynov, Jeff Carter, and Justin Williams all lead the team with six goals in the postseason and Carter’s last goal came in Game 2 of this series. With Mike Richards’ status still in doubt, Carter’s been piling up assists. Perhaps tonight L.A. can finally see some production from captain Dustin Brown and center Anze Kopitar as they’re both pointless in this series.

Avs unveil new third jerseys

Avs Jerseys
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The Avalanche will be throwing a bunch of different looks at us this season.

Having already released specialized “Mile High” jerseys for February’s Stadium Series game, the Avs unveiled new third sweaters on Friday — less than 24 hours after a bitter 5-4 home loss to Minnesota in their season opener.

(Guess Colorado wanted to send out some good vibes after blowing a 4-1 third-period lead.)

While undoubtedly exciting for the organization, the release of these new thirds isn’t taking anybody by surprise. Last month, several websites published leaked images of Colorado’s and Anaheim’s third jerseys, so the design has been in the public eye for several weeks.

The Avs will debut these new thirds on Oct. 24, in a Saturday night tilt against Columbus.

Related: Roy explains why he didn’t call time out

Report: Escrow set at 16 percent

Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr
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Hey, remember in June when the NHLPA voted to keep the five-percent growth factor in spite of increasing worries about escrow?

Well, here’s why that decision was a significant one, via TSN’s Frank Seravalli:

With early revenue projections in place, the NHL and NHLPA set the escrow withholding rate for players at 16 per cent for the first quarter of the season on Thursday.

That means every player will have 16 per cent of earnings deducted from their paycheque and put aside until after all of this season’s hockey-related revenue is counted to ensure a perfect 50-50 revenue split with owners.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the players will definitely lose 16 percent of their salaries. Typically, they receive refunds when all the accounting is done.

Still, 16 percent is a good-sized chunk to withhold. They won’t be thrilled about it.

Related: To understand escrow, consider Duncan Keith