James O'Brien

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game One

More woes for Beau: Pens’ Bennett out for Game 3

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Once again, it appears as though injuries are making life difficult for both Beau Bennett and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The oft-injured young forward won’t play against the New York Rangers in Game 3 thanks to an upper-body issue. It’s not immediately clear what caused Bennett’s most recent ailment.

The 23-year-old hasn’t had a point in his last four games, including Pittsburgh’s first two playoff contests. He only managed to play in 49 regular season contests in 2014-15, which still marks a career-high for the 20th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Scott Wilson will slide into Bennett’s spot on a line with Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie.

Crawford or Darling for Game 3? Coach Q won’t say (yet)

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers
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If Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville knows which goalie he’s going to start for Game 3 against the Nashville Predators after another rough outing for Corey Crawford, he’s not telling.

For now, he’s just saying “we’ll see.”

Looking at recent history alone, it would seem to point in Scott Darling’s favor. While Crawford has the Stanley Cup on his resume, Darling was perfect in relief in Game 1 while Crawford’s been … not.

It’s not just these past two games against the Predators (in which he’s allowed nine goals in four periods), either. As Liam McHugh notes, Crawford has allowed 3+ goals in his last eight postseason starts:

The Blackhawks might be a little lucky in some ways to head back to Chicago with their series tied 1-1 against Nashville, but there’s only so much that can sugarcoat a 6-2 loss.

Whether he goes with Crawford or Darling, it would be surprising if Quenneville deems the decision as “easy” as his choice was for Game 2, though. (As Keith Jones said, it’s a “brainer.”)

Preds torch Crawford, Hawks; even series at 1-1

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators - Game Two
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So much for the Game 2 being about the officials.

For much of tonight’s contest between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators, it seemed like some controversial calls may loom large. Instead, the Predators outright bombarded the Blackhawks in the third period, ultimately winning 6-2.

Now the story is about Joel Quenneville starting Corey Crawford instead of Scott Darling, even if perhaps the focus should be on Nashville taking it to the established team from Chicago.

Nashville never trailed in Game 2. It seemed like it would be a nail-biter for a while … until that third period. The game went from a thriller to a blowout during an incredible finish by Nashville:

The series is now 1-1 as it shifts back to the United Center in Chicago.

Both teams have questions. Shea Weber left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. The Blackhawks got blown out of the arena and face a goalie conundrum. They may also mull over some lineup tweaks, including the possible return of trade deadline find Antoine Vermette.

Either way, the Blackhawks and Predators look like they’ll put together the kind of series you’d expect from the excellent Central Division.

Video: Controversial Kane goal has Laviolette fuming

lavioletteap
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The Nashville Predators likely weren’t happy about some calls from their Game 1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, but Game 2 might just make head coach Peter Laviolette explode.

Patrick Kane scoring his first goal since breaking his collarbone is a great story … yet it becomes sour when it’s so clear that it (almost certainly?) should have been whistled dead with too many men on the ice:

Want another look at it? Here’s more proof and more Laviolette anger:

Yeah, the Predators probably have a beef:

source:

With Shea Weber out hurt for the rest of this game, the Predators aren’t exactly getting a lot of luck tonight. They do, however, currently hold a 3-2 lead.

Video: Frantic end to period includes Josi goal, Preds-Blackhawks fight

NHL Playoffs: Chicago at Nashville, Game 1
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Casual fans might not know it, but Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is really good. As in, Josi is “outscoring teammate Shea Weber by a healthy margin and not by accident” good.

With less than four seconds remaining, he handed the Chicago Blackhawks a painful reminder that he’s a star-caliber player:

That made for quite the busy end to the first period of Game 2, as the two teams had a mini-brawl to end the opening frame:

There’s plenty of talent on both ends of the ice, and we’ve seen it frequently already. As Central Division adversaries, they won’t need too much time to drum up that playoff hate, either.