Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Four

Get your game notes: Kings at Blackhawks

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

— Fueled by three goals in a span of 6:56 in the first period of Game 4, the Kings jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on to to win Game 4, 5-2. Now one win away from reaching their second Stanley Cup Final in the last three years, the Kings lead a best-of-seven series three-games-to-one for the fifth time in franchise history. They have won all of the previous four series, three of which came in 2012 en route to the team capturing its first Stanley Cup. In those four series, Los Angeles was 2-2 in Game 5 and 2-0 in Game 6. Chicago is facing a three-games-to-one deficit in a best-of-seven series for the 13th time in franchise history. The Blackhawks have won just one of the previous 12 series, but their lone win came in their most recent such series: the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Detroit.

— Since the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings have won eight of 13 games in which they’ve had a chance to clinch a series, including both such games this postseason. Since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chicago is 7-3 when facing elimination, but has not been in that situation since Games 5, 6 and 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Detroit.

— Through the first 13 games of the postseason, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford posted a 9-4 record, with a 1.90 GAA and .933 save%. But in the last three games, Crawford has lost all three games, with a 4.46 GAA and .841 save%. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick lost his first three games of the postseason, with a 5.78 GAA and .852 save%, but has rebounded in his last 15 games, winning 11 contests, with a 2.08 GAA and .927 save%.

— The Kings converted two of their three power play opportunities in Game 4 and are now 5-for-12 in the series (41.7%). They rank third in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and first among remaining clubs, with a 26.7% overall PP conversion rate (16-for-60). The Kings have allowed two power play goals in their last five games, both to the Blackhawks in Game 1 and 2, but were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in Game 3 and 3-for-3 in Game 4. After going 44-for-48 (91.7%) on the PK in their first 13 games this postseason, the Blackhawks have yielded five PPG in 10 times shorthanded (50.0%) over their last three outings.

— The Blackhawks tinkered with their lines somewhat in Game 4, moving Patrick Kane, who has three points (one goal) in his last nine games, to the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell. The trio played together on 18 shifts (Toews had 26 total shifts, Kane had 26 and Bickell had 23), combining for a goal, two assists, and five shots. Afterwards, head coach Joel Quenneville said, ―I thought they were good. They were alright. They generated enough. They were fine.‖

— The Kings have the top four active scorers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Anze Kopitar (5-17—22), Jeff Carter (8-12—20), Marian Gaborik (10-6—16) and Justin Williams (6-9—15) – Williams is tied for fourth with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf. Kopitar has registered at least one point in 15 of the team’s 18 playoff games and has been held without a point in consecutive games only once since December 21, a span of 64 regular season and playoff games. Only Wayne Gretzky (15-25—40 in 24 GP in 1993) and Tomas Sandstrom (8-17—25 in 24 GP in 1993) have collected more points in a single postseason in Kings history (two others tied with 22). Elias Sports Bureau

— The Kings’ second line of Tanner Pearson, Carter and Tyler Toffoli are each riding five-game point streaks, combining for 22 points and a +16 rating in that span (Pearson: 2-4—6, +6; Carter: 5-6—11, +6; Toffoli: 3-2—5, +4).

Stunner: Team Europe beats Sweden, advances to World Cup Final

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 25:  Marian Gaborik #12 of Team Europe is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a second period goal against Team Sweden at the semifinal game during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at  Air Canada Centre on September 25, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
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When the World Cup began earlier this month, Team Europe, a collection of players from eight European countries that did not have their own team in the tournament, was thought to be the weakest team in the field.

Not necessarily a bad team, but one that seemed like it would have trouble keeping up with the hockey superpowers that made up the remainder of the field. That thinking seemed to be confirmed in the pre-tournament games when the North American young stars team skated them out of the building in what the European team admitted was a wakeup call.

All of that is why they still have to actually play the games, and in a short tournament like this anything can happen. 

In this case, anything did happen.

Thanks to their 3-2 overtime win over Team Sweden on Sunday afternoon in the World Cup semifinals, Team Europe has clinched a spot in the World Cup final series and will take on Canada in a best-of-three round that begins on Tuesday night.

It’s been an incredible and almost unbelievable run so far Europe. They frustrated the United States in their opener and shut them out, beat the Czech Republic in overtime, and then on Sunday shut down Sweden to advance to the final. 

The biggest part of their success has to be the play of their goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has been their best player the entire tournament.

On Sunday, he stopped 37 out of 39 shots and improved his save percentage in the tournament to .946.

The other big star for Team Europe on Sunday was Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar who scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner.

After Marian Gaborik scored late in the second period to tie the game at one, Tatar opened the third period with a goal just 12 seconds in when he followed up his own shot and beat Sweden’s Henrik Lundqvist to give Europe its first lead of the game.

Sweden’s Erik Karlsson scored late in the third period to send the game to overtime.

Europe now haas to get ready to face a Canadian team that is 4-0 in the tournament and outscored its opponents by a 19-6 margin.

Canada beat Europe in the first round 4-1.

Sounds like Blues will be more aggressive

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 06:  Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blues defeated the Coyotes 6-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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With their former captain now a member of the Boston Bruins and their coach on year-to-year deals, it’s appropriate to say that the St. Louis Blues are in a period of transitions.

It’s also a convenient choice of words, as it sounds like the Blues are going to change the way they transition on the ice.

That’s the indication given by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and players like Chris Porter approve.

“The play in the neutral zone will fit this team great with the speed and the size that they already have in place,” Porter said. “I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment for the guys, I think it’s just a little tweak here or there.”

Perhaps hiring Mike Yeo had something to do with taking a more modern approach?

Either way, getting more aggressive makes a lot of sense for the Blues, at least on paper.

With David Backes and Troy Brouwer out of town, younger and speedier players get to take more of a role. Some Blues fans will probably view this tweak – big or small – as a long time coming.

Of course, there’s a give-and-take when it comes to situations like these, and becoming more attack-minded sure makes retaining Kevin Shattenkirk that much more important. The underrated blueliner still expects to be moved despite being named an alternate captain, yet you wonder if these changes might prompt GM Doug Armstrong to try to pull some strings to keep him around.

(Giving Alexander Steen a contract extension means that much less room for the likes of Shattenkirk.)

Even if the Blues eventually need to part ways with Shattenkirk, there are some other nice assets who can use this change as a catalyst to push this team up another level.

In an ideal scenario, the Blues would enjoy those improvements and keep Shattenkirk to reap those rewards.

Update: Clarke MacArthur suffers concussion

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 8: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on October 8, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/ Getty Images)
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Update: As many feared, Clarke MacArthur suffered a concussion. The Ottawa Senators announced that he will be “evaluated daily.”

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Rough news for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday: forward Clarke MacArthur needed help off the ice following a big hit during a team scrimmage.

The hit was delivered by Patrick Sieloff, prompting an immediate response from Bobby Ryan, according to The Hockey News’ Murray Pam.

MacArthur has been hoping to return to NHL action after some serious concussion issues, so this is a troubling situation. More than a few people wonder if this might end his career.

Update: Here’s a GIF of the hit.

Robin Lehner certainly has swagger

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Robin Lehner is a big goalie, and barring possible language barrier issues, sure seems to have a pretty big personality.

That at least seems to be the case with the Buffalo Sabres’ top guy, who provided the Buffalo News’ John Vogl with a great quote:

“There’s a lot of pressure on me, and that’s fine. … I know I’m a good goaltender,” Lehner said.

Hey now.

As much as the Sabres feel like a work in progress, acquiring Lehner was one of GM Tim Murray’s boldest moves. Murray was able to observe Lehner in Ottawa, and despite some struggles, the big Swede (6-foot-5, 240 lbs.) was sneaky-good in 2015-16.

Twenty-one games serves as a limited sample size, yet a .924 save percentage seems quite promising. His 107 career regular season games are spread over six seasons, so to some extent, the 25-year-old is still something of an unknown entity.

If nothing else, it looks like he could provide some Bryzgalovian entertainment.

Back in March, Ben Scrivens admitted he was happy to avoid a fight with a guy he called a “bit of a psycho.”

Sounds like a guy to watch.