Seeing goalies take center stage in the Stanley Cup finals isn’t really a new development. Last year we saw Jonathan Quick stymie everyone on his way to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Three of the last seven Conn Smythe winners have been goalies, including the past two years in a row.
This year figures to be no different with both Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Chicago’s Corey Crawford roaring into the finals on a tear.
Rask’s Herculean effort in stopping the Penguins holding the league’s top offense to just two goals in four games is the kind of thing legends are made of. His .986 save percentage over the four-game sweep has made people in Boston completely forget about what Tim Thomas did back in 2011.
Crawford, on the other hand, was outstanding in his own right in stopping the defending champion Los Angeles Kings in five games. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said Crawford is “doing it all” for the team and he’s not one known to joke around.
So who stays hot in the finals? It’s tough to ignore what Rask has done and while we might normally wonder if he can stop Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa… He just got done shutting down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Kris Letang. So much for the easy question. If he continues at the same level he was in the Eastern Conference finals, it’s tough to see how Chicago breaks through.
Crawford did well to survive Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, and Dustin Brown in the last round and already survived Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Will he be able to handle Brad Marchand’s nose for the net or Milan Lucic threatening to blow through the crease while David Krejci tries to find holes? That could be all up to how guys like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook handle business in front of him.
As for what Vegas thinks, they’re leaning on Crawford and the Hawks to stay on course for the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup. Would you want to call Rask and the Bruins an underdog at this point?
For more 2013 Cup finals questions, click here.
Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”
Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.
“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.
“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”
Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.
As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.
He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.
His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.
Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.