The Detroit Red Wings carved out a 5-4 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, leaving them tied points-wise with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth playoff spot in the East as of tonight. The Red Wings fought back from a 2-0 deficit, showing that they’re not going to be an easy out even with injuries and other challenges serving as potential obstacles.
– Can Detroit hold off the handful of up-and-down East bubble teams and make it to the postseason? Considering the Red Wings’ injuries, would a healthy Detroit team be a potential playoff upset threat? (Obviously looking months ahead, mind you …)
– The Red Wings have now won just three of 10 shootouts and notched their eighth home win of the season. Despite those struggles, they’re in the mix.
– Would you agree with CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers that the Blackhawks were “just off” for much of this game? Did Chicago take Detroit lightly because of injuries?
– Inevitable question time: are the Red Wings better off with Jonas Gustavsson instead of Jimmy Howard, or is that more of a “small sample size” thing? What about the American Olympic team?
– The Red Wings are attempting to make the most of what could be a lucrative stretch of games scheduling-wise. They won two of three games in Detroit so far in a five-game homestand.
– Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are kicking off a challenging run after finishing up a home-heavy stretch. They play in Minnesota on Thursday, get one home game against Winnipeg and then the ‘Hawks finish off their pre-Olympic break schedule with six straight road contests. Then a huge chunk of their team flies to Sochi. Yikes.
– As evenly matched as this game was, Mike Babcock remarked to the Detroit Free Press before the contest that the Red Wings need to “hold up our end of the bargain,” to maintain the rivalry. How can the Red Wings return to their elite form of old?
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of Blues series
Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions
Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: