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.
By Marian Gaborik‘s often-fragile standards, he’s been relatively sturdy as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Still, few should be shocked when they hear of a lower-body injury for the veteran winger. In this case, it’s serious enough to land him on injured reserve, as the team announced on Saturday.
Gaborik had a bumpy time with zero points from Jan. 9-23, but he’s been more productive lately, scoring five points in his past seven contests.
And, again, it was an unusually healthy run for Gaborik:
LA Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen indicates that Gaborik was placed on IR in part so that the Kings could make room for Peter Budaj.
Update: The Minnesota Wild made it official. Still no word yet on a replacement.
It looks like the Minnesota Wild have no love left for Mike Yeo on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Apparently an eighth consecutive loss (falling to the Boston Bruins) was the final straw, as Yeo has been fired, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Yeo confirmed as much via text (pauses for comment about this being a strange time for us all) to Russo:
The Wild haven’t made an official announcement yet. The writing certainly seemed to be on the wall with Graff reporting that there were especially long meetings between Minnesota management and Yeo after today’s loss to Boston.
Yeo mentioned that he wouldn’t quit following the game.
One big question remains: is GM Chuck Fletcher safe to work the trade deadline or will there be sweeping changes for the struggling Wild?
Also: who coaches them going forward? Will an assistant be bumped up to interim head coach or will the franchise go to someone looking for a gig? Perhaps this option …
Who knows, really. PHT will keep you up to date either way.
/paging Jacques Lemaire …
The Carolina Hurricanes probably can save a few ice buckets tonight, as the New York Islanders will be without winger Cal Clutterbuck.
The Isles announced that Clutterbuck won’t play on Saturday because of an illness. Their next game is against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, and then they don’t suit up again until Thursday, so Clutterbuck’s sickness may not be too much of a nuisance.
According to Yahoo’s numbers, the amusingly named forward has delivered 55 hits in 14 career games against the Canes (not to mention a solid five points).
Matt Martin‘s among the most frequent hitters in the league, too, so it’s not like the Hurricanes will leave tonight’s game totally unscathed.
Here are the Islanders’ tweaked forward lines:
If the Minnesota Wild want to make a coaching change, it sounds like Mike Yeo won’t make it easy for them by stepping down.
“I’m not freaking quitting here,” Yeo said to reporters including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
It also sounds like Yeo realizes that Minnesota’s morbid losing streak – now at a worrisome eight games – may very well cost him his job.
The scene sounded pretty somber after today’s loss to the Boston Bruins, and not in your usual way.
Firing Yeo would be a big step for the Wild, even more than usual, as he began his coaching stint in 2011. GM Chuck Fletcher was hired in 2009, so the two have been attached at the hip since then.
(And they got to know each other well in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.)
Will one or both be gone, possibly in the near future? Even Yeo admits big changes can happen.
Wild players, meanwhile, just seem beaten down … and maybe ambivalent about Yeo?