Wednesday night’s Game 1 was an incredible thriller. Can Game 2 live up to that hype or are we in store for a tighter game?
Game 2: Chicago Blackhawks host Boston Bruins (8 p.m. ET — NBCSN/Live Extra)
Chicago leads series 1-0
After the triple-overtime epic that was Game 1, the pressure is on the Boston Bruins to see if they can bounce back from such a tough loss. Unfortunately, they head into Game 2 with some looming questions.
The main worry is the health of Nathan Horton. The big forward left Game 1 with an apparent shoulder injury, one that’s reportedly nagged him all playoffs, but after practicing yesterday it looks like he could go. If his issue is a chronic dislocated shoulder, however, that could be a major problem as it can reoccur at any time. (Update: Horton will play Game 2)
That shifts the questions to the play of Tyler Seguin. Seguin has popped off a lot of shots in the postseason and has just one goal to his name. If he’s needed in a larger role tonight, can he be a difference maker? Boston might need him to be that no matter what.
This isn’t all about the Bruins, of course. After taking Game 1, Chicago seemed to be clicking pretty well. They dominated in puck possession and outshot the Bruins by a wide margin. Is there anything that really needs to be adjusted? Coach Joel Quenneville might tell you the power play could use work after it did a miserable job of generating scoring chances in Game 1.
The difference maker tonight, however, could be Corey Crawford who the Blackhawks couldn’t rave over hard enough after Game 1. Throw in captain Jonathan Toews’ endorsement for Crawford to be Team Canada’s goalie at the Olympics and it’s a full-on love fest in the Windy City.
This is where we remind you that Tuukka Rask has been equally outstanding for Boston and we should expect more of the same stellar goaltending we saw in Game 1 from both players.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.