Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic

Cup finals questions: Will Hawks hold down the HuLK?


The forward group that dominated the 2011 playoffs is doing the same through the first three rounds of 2013. So, the question is: can the Chicago Blackhawks slow down the Boston Bruins’ “HuLK” line?

The trio of Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci presents a befuddling mix of talent, size and skill. Head coach Claude Julien rarely splits them up, and when you look at their playoff numbers, it’s easy to see why:

Krejci: 21 points,* +14, two game-winning goals in 16 games
Horton: 17 points, +21, three game-winning goals in 16 games
Lucic: 13 points, +13, zero game-winning goals in 16 games

As this piece discusses, the lockout cut off any chance for the Blackhawks to get an idea of what they’re up against. Instead, we can only look at how Chicago handled the top players from other opposing teams in the 2013 postseason.

The verdict? So far, so good.

  • In five games against the Minnesota Wild, Zach Parise only managed a goal while Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter went pointless.
  • Henrik Zetterberg went without a goal until Game 7 of their second-round series (while adding three assists in the semifinals) and Pavel Datsyuk only managed a goal and an assist in seven contests.
  • The Blackhawks held Anze Kopitar pointless through four games before he scored a goal and an assist in Chicago’s 4-3 double OT win in Game 5.

Those numbers certainly don’t guarantee that Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford and the rest of the Blackhawks will be able to subdue that bear of a line.

Still, whether you attribute it to puck possession, positive bounces or “offense being the best defense,” it seems that Chicago is developing a track record for powering down some of the league’s most dangerous players.

* – Krejci’s 21 points tops all playoff scorers. Horton’s 17 comes in second.

For more 2013 Cup finals questions, click here.


In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

Dave Cameron
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Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

From the league:

At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.