Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Los Angeles Kings starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
- The Blackhawks host the Kings in the second of three meetings this season (Chicago won 3-1 at home on Dec. 15) after having eliminated LA in June in the Western Conference Final.
- Tonight’s game pits the league’s highest-scoring team (Chicago: 153 goals (3.73/game), 0 times shut out) against the league’s stingiest team (Los Angeles, 77 goals allowed (1.97/game), league-leading 7 shutouts). The Blackhawks however have also surrendered 110 goals – their games are by a wide margin the highest-scoring in the NHL, while the Kings are at the opposite end of that list.
TEAM & OPP GPG TEAM GOAL DIFF.
1. Blackhawks 6.41 +43 (t-1st in NHL)
2. Senators 5.93 -15
3. Coyotes 5.92 -1
28. Kings 4.59 +25 (7th in NHL)
29. Sabres 4.49 -43
30. Canadiens 4.53 +10
- The Blackhawks have an NHL-high six players with 10+ goals this season; Patrick Kane (23), Patrick Sharp (22), Jonathan Toews (15), Marian Hossa (14), Brandon Saad (13), Andrew Shaw (11).
- Kane is in the midst of a career-best 14-game point streak (8 goals, 17 assists) since Nov. 30 (2nd longest streak in NHL this season – Ryan Getzlaf, ANA, 16), and has at least one point in 26 of his last 27 games. His team-leading 53 points and 23 goals rank 2nd recorded 50 or more points in each of his seven NHL seasons.
- ‘Hawks goalie Corey Crawford (lower-body injury) has been out since Dec. 8; he lead the NHL with 17 wins at the time. Rookie Antti Raanta is 6-1-2 in his absence and has allowed 2 goals or fewer in 12 of 13 games this season before giving up 5 goals on 25 shots in Sat. 6-5 SO loss at STL.
- Similarly, Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has been sidelined with a groin injury since Nov. 12; freshman Martin Jones (8-1-0, 1.31 GAA, 3 SO this season) & Ben Scrivens (7-4-4, 1.76 GAA, 3 SO) have filled the void. Jones won his first 8 NHL starts to tie a league record set by the Flyers’ Bob Froese in 1982-83. The Kings however have lost their last two games (5-2 on Dec. 23 vs DAL & 3-2 on Dec. 28 at NSH). LA last lost 3 straight games from Jan. 19-24 when they went 0-2-1 to open last season.
Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.
His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.
From the Detroit Free Press:
“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.
At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.
He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.
The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.
Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.
But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.
“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.
“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”
The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.
After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.
The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.
Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.
But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.
As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.
After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.
Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.
In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.
The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.
The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.