Get your game notes: Wild at Blackhawks

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Minnesota Wild starting at 9:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Wild defeated Colorado in seven games to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003. Their Game 7 win at Colorado on Wednesday ended an eight-game road losing streak in playoff games, and raised their record in their last 14 road games to 2-12. The Blackhawks, who won all three games at United Center versus St. Louis in the first round, are 14-2 at home since the beginning of their Stanley Cup-winning run last postseason.

• Fourteen of the 46 first-round games went to overtime. Both the Wild and Blackhawks went to overtime four times in the opening round, the most among any of the remaining teams, and became the 11th and 12th teams in NHL history to go to OT four or more times in one series. Minnesota played 21:04 of extra hockey, going 2-2 in those games. Chicago played more than three times that much (65:09), also going 2-2.

• This will be the second-ever postseason meeting between the Wild and Blackhawks; Chicago beat Minnesota last year in the first round in five games, outscoring the Wild 17-7. Chicago’s lone loss in the series came in Game 3, a 3-2 OT loss at Minnesota. The Blackhawks outscored the Wild 12-4 at home in the series, scoring five goals in two of the games and holding Minnesota to no more than two goals in all three home games. Chicago has won 11 straight playoff series with home-ice advantage dating back to 1993, when they were swept by St. Louis in the Norris Division Semifinals.

• Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp (one goal) was held in check by the Blues in round one. However, he was the star of last season’s series versus Minnesota, scoring five goals in five games, on his way to a playoff-leading 10 goals. Since 2009, the Blackhawks are 23-4 in the playoffs when Sharp scores a goal.

• One Blackhawks career postseason record was broken, and another was matched versus St. Louis. In Game 4, winger Patrick Kane scored his third-career overtime goal, tying him with Jeremy Roenick for the most in franchise history. Center Jonathan Toews scored the game-winning goals for Chicago in Games 5 and 6. The second of those gave him nine for his career, one more than Roenick for the franchise high.

• In Game 7 versus Colorado, Wild winger Nino Niederreiter scored two goals, the second of which was the OT winner. Niederreiter became the third player in NHL history whose first two postseason goals came in a Game 7. (Pittsburgh’s Jiri Hrdina, 1991; New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, 2012). Elias Sports Bureau

• For Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who made one save in relief of the injured Darcy Kuemper and was credited with the victory in Game 7, the “Madhouse on Madison” has been a house of horrors. In seven starts since the 2007-08 season (all in the regular season), he is 0-5-2, with a 3.81 GAA and .873 save%. In his only start with Minnesota (Apr. 3), he allowed two goals on 26 shots in a shootout loss.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (4-2, 1.98 GAA, .935 save%) was one of three goaltenders with a goals-against average under 2.00 and save% over .930 in the first round. (Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason were the others.). In the past two postseasons, Crawford has the most starts (29), wins (20) and goals allowed (60) of any goalie, and the second-most shots faced (889) and saves (829). Only Rask has faced more shots (946) and made more saves (890) during that span.

• The Blackhawks had the best penalty kill among all teams in the first round (27/29, 93.1%) after finishing the regular season T-10th worst in the NHL (81.4%). The Wild also improved significantly in the opening round, with the fourth-best PK efficiency (22/25, 88.0%) after posting the league’s fourth-worst PK (78.8%) during the regular season.

Is Brayden Schenn’s star turn for real?

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For years, hockey nerds and/or experts were waiting for Brayden Schenn to make “the leap.” Eventually, people gave up on that, to the point that the 26-year-old’s trade to the St. Louis Blues seemed more like a curious swap than a tide-turner.

Now, sure, Schenn found a solid niche with the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was in more of a specialist role. Many believed that he was dependent upon a plum gig on the team’s lethal power play and would possibly slip in St. Louis.

Considering that 17 of his 25 goals came on the power play last season, it wasn’t that outrageous to wonder if he might be just “a guy” in St. Louis.

As it turns out, he’s bordering on the guy with the Blues, and it’s been a truly wondrous thing to behold. Wondrous and baffling, to be honest.

On Saturday, it seemed like his hot streak would come to an end … until overtime. In what was very much a solo effort, Schenn beguiled the Vancouver Canucks to secure a 4-3 OT win for his Blues.

Nice. Now, it’s true that Schenn wasn’t the overall star of the night for St. Louis, as that probably goes to Paul Stastny, who piled up three assists. Still, Schenn’s third game-winning goal of the season extended his point streak to seven games, and it’s not like he’s just eking out production, either:

Wow. Overall, Schenn now has 8 goals and 26 points in 21 games during his debut season with the Blues. He’s on a pace to absolutely smash the best work of his career, which came in previous seasons where he collected 55 and 59 points.

So, naturally, the question is: with about a quarter of the season over, how much of this is real and how much of this is a lucky little mirage?

Under normal circumstances, one would lean toward luck, especially with a guy who’s already 26. That doesn’t sound old, and it’s certainly in a scorer’s prime range, but it also strikes as a bit unexpected.

To some extent, this is luck. Frankly, it’s not realistic to expect Schenn to average 1.25 points per game; consider that Sidney Crosby‘s career mark is 1.30, and you realize it’s wise to dial back expectations for a guy whose previous career-high was .74.

That aside, there are some reasons to believe that Schenn could very well remain a bigger scorer with the Blues than he did with the Flyers. Allow me to break it down.

Firing away

Whenever you’re trying to do some hockey myth-busting, shooting percentage is a great place to start. If one-third of the pucks a guy sends toward the net beats a goalie, then ‘ol gravity might not be very kind.

According to NHL.com, Schenn has now connected on 14 percent of his shots on goal this season (eight of 57). That might be a little high, but his career average is 12.5.

Now, assists are a big part of his totals, and that’s where things should cool down. Schenn’s most common linemates have been Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, by quite a margin according to Natural Stat Trick.

So, you can deduce that some of Schenn’s numbers are inflated by those two, especially with Schwartz connecting on 22.2 percent of his SOG so far in 2017-18.

Nurtured

And that’s where things could slide quite a bit. If the Blues get some talent back from that wave of summer injuries, perhaps Mike Yeo might move Schenn away from one or both of Tarasenko and Schwartz?

The overall setup definitely gooses Schenn’s numbers, but it’s not just linemates.

He’s getting way more ice time, in general. Schenn is averaging just under 20 minutes per night after logging almost 18 per evening last season, via Hockey Reference. While Schenn enjoyed fairly cushy zone starts before, it’s even more pronounced now; the 26-year-old’s began a career-high 63 percent of his shifts in the attacking zone entering tonight’s game.

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So, long story short, you can expect some of this success to subside. The Blues, as a team, are on a roll that is likely cool down.

The more interesting queries revolve around how much the Blues and Schenn might slip from these hot streaks. It should be some, but will the slide be as extreme as some expect? It should be fun to find out.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Chance the Rapper plays clueless hockey reporter on ‘SNL’ (Video)

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Chance the Rapper hosted “Saturday Night Live” last night and in skit he played Lazlo Holmes, a New York Knicks reporter for Madison Square Garden network filling in for the usual New York Rangers reporter who’s on paternity leave.

Holmes quickly discovers that the temperature for hockey is a tad different than that of a hoops game, and that some of the names in the sport are pretty tough to say for an outsider, like Brady Skjei, for example.

It’s not quite Tim “Little Hockey” Meadows bemoaning the 1994 NHL lockout, but it was good for some chuckles.

Hopefully next time NBC has a coach mic’d up for a pre-game speech, he lets fly with “let’s do that hockey!”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

USHL goaltender scores goal, makes most of celebration (Video)

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It was a pretty eventful night Saturday in Sioux Falls as the USHL’s Stampede beat the Muskegon Lumberjacks 7-4 to sweep a weekend series.

After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Stampede scored five unanswered times en route to the win. Along the way, their first goal started the teddy bear tossing and the game’s final tally came off the stick of goaltender Mikhail Berdin. Not only did the kid make history by becoming the first goalie in franchise history to ever score, he followed it up with an impressive celebration.

Berdin, a 19-year-old sixth-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2016, went with the bench fly-by, did some fist pumps, saluted the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center crowd and ended it with a Vince McMahon strut. That kid knows how to celebrate.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Monahan the man, torrid Tavares

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Choice PHT Cuts:

Canadiens, Maple Leafs did NOT play nice.

If you didn’t think Alex Ovechkin was tough …

*Rubs eyes* A winning streak … for the Coyotes?

Connor McDavid and Oilers are sad pandas.

Players of the Night

  • Anthony Duclair‘s hat trick is well-covered here, so check that out. Duclair gets one edge on Sean Monahan in that Duclair scored all of his team’s goals on Saturday, but Monahan combined his first career hat trick with an assist, helping his Flames win in OT much like Duclair did for Arizona.

Monahan slightly upstaged Johnny Gaudreau (one goal, two assists) who was pumped to play in front of a crowd in Philly.

  • Paul Stastny collected three assists to help the Blues beat the Canucks in overtime. Check PHT on Sunday morning for an in-depth look at Brayden Schenn, who kept his hot streak going with the OT-clincher.
  • John Tavares just continues to ride high with a goal and two assists. The real stars might be the Islanders as a whole, however, as they beat the Lightning and kept Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov pointless in a 5-3 Isles win.
  • Frederik Andersen has achieved back-to-back shutouts, helping the Leafs make the Habs extra-miserable. He made 33 saves, so you could argue Montreal deserved better than a 6-0 fate.

Heel of the Night?

While Connor McDavid absorbed an odd portion of the Oilers’ blame in defeat despite a three-point night, Antoine Roussel really played up his villain cred. He collected three points of his own and did this:

Highlight of the Night

Going off script a bit here, let’s go with Alex Ovechkin bouncing back from this:

And Corey Crawford being OK despite this bump from Evgeni Malkin.

Both players helped their teams seal up wins as a bonus. (Feel free to share your favorite highlights from tonight, even if they don’t involve near-injuries.)

Factoid of the Night

Congrats, Antti Niemi. Kind of.

Here’s a free joke regarding that situation.

Scores

Flames 5, Flyers 4 (OT)
Stars 6, Oilers 3
Coyotes 3, Senators 2 (OT)
Jets 5, Devils 2
Kings 4, Panthers 0
Hurricanes 3, Sabres 1
Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 0
Islanders 5, Lightning 3
Blackhawks 2, Penguins 1
Capitals 3, Wild 1
Predators 5, Avalanche 2
Blues 4, Canucks 3 (OT)
Bruins 3, Sharks 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.