Kings Blackhawks Hockey

Get your game notes: ‘Hawks at Kings

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the L.A. Kings hosting the Chicago Blackhawks starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• After a four-point performance (3-1—4) in Game 2, Kings center Jeff Carter registered three more points (1-2—3) in Game 3. Carter became the first L.A. player to post 3+ points in consecutive playoff games since 1993, when Wayne Gretzky had back-to-back four-point nights in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final vs. TOR (3-1—4) and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. MTL (1-3—4). Carter and Gretzky were on the winning side in each of their two multi-point games. (Elias Sports Bureau)

• This series, the Kings’ second line (a.k.a. “That 70s Line”) of #70 Tanner Pearson (0-4—4) – #77 Carter (4-4—8) – #73 Tyler Toffoli (3-0—3) has combined for 15 points (7-8—15), exactly as many as the rest of the Kings’ roster combined (4-11—15). In Game 3, Toffoli scored a goal for the third straight game, becoming only the third rookie since 1992 to score at least one goal in three consecutive conference final or Stanley Cup Final games in one playoff year. (Elias Sports Bureau)

Dwight King: Los Angeles 2012 Western Conference Final Games 1, 2, 3 (four goals)
Chris Kreider:  N.Y. Rangers 2012 Eastern Conference Final Games 1, 2, 3 (three goals)
Toffoli: Los Angeles 2014 Western Conference Final Games 1, 2, 3 (three goals)

• While Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews scored two first-period goals on his only two shots on goal of the game in Game 3, teammate Patrick Kane was kept off the score sheet for the third straight game. Kane, who scored three goals in the second round vs. MIN (including his “Showtime” goal in Game 1 and series-clincher in overtime of Game 6), has zero points, seven shots on goal and a -3 rating vs. L.A.

• In the past three postseasons (2012-2014), Carter has 22 playoff goals, the most in the NHL (Chicago’s Brian Bickell is next, with 17). In the past five (2010-2014), Carter and two other former Philadelphia Flyers have the most goals. All three are playing on one of the teams currently vying for the 2014 Stanley Cup title: Montreal’s Daniel Briere (30), Chicago’s Patrick Sharp (28) and Carter (28).

• The Blackhawks, who went 1-2 on the road in each of their first two series this postseason, would be guaranteed of a losing road record in this series with a loss at Staples Center in Game 4 (or a potential Game 6). The 1969-70 St. Louis Blues were the last team to reach the Stanley Cup Final after posting a losing road record in all of their series leading up. (In a three-round playoff system, the Blues went 1-2 on the road vs. both Minnesota and Pittsburgh, then were swept by Boston in the Final.) (Elias Sports Bureau)

• Through the first two rounds (vs. STL and MIN) and first five periods of the Western Conference Final (vs. LA), the Blackhawks allowed four goals on 50 shorthanded opportunities, for an NHL-best 92.0% penalty-kill efficiency. In their last four periods (the third period of Game 2 and all of Game 3), they allowed three PPG (Carter, Jake Muzzin, Slava Voynov) on five shorthanded opportunities (40.0%).

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has allowed nine goals on his last 45 shots faced (.800 save%) after allowing only one goal on 43 shots to begin the series. Crawford, who was the losing goalie in Games 2 and 3, has only lost three straight playoff games on two previous occasions: Games 1-3 vs. Vancouver in 2011 (his first-career playoff games) and Games 2-4 vs. Detroit in 2013.

• This postseason, Chicago has allowed 23 goals in seven road games (3.29 goals/game). In those games, the Blackhawks are 0-5 when allowing three or more goals; 2-0 when allowing two or fewer. During the 2013-14 regular season, the Blackhawks were 4-11-6 when allowing 3+ goals in a road game; 15-3-2 when allowing two or fewer.

Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.