A big reason the Chicago Blackhawks are facing elimination tonight in St. Louis is that their forwards have only scored four goals in four games.
Patrick Kane has no goals.
Jonathan Toews has no goals.
Marian Hossa has no goals.
Andrew Shaw has two goals, but he’s suspended for tonight’s game.
And so head coach Joel Quenneville decided to make a few changes. Here are the expected lines for Game 5:
“At this point of the playoffs, sometimes things call for change,” Kane told CSN Chicago after being reunited with Toews. “We haven’t played with each other much, so hopefully it’s kind of that instant chemistry and we can get a win tonight. That’s the most important thing, so hopefully it helps us.”
Kane, of course, spent most of the season with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov — a combination that helped Kane become the first American to lead the NHL in scoring, and Panarin a favorite for rookie of the year.
If the ‘Hawks lose tonight, it’ll mark the fewest games they’ve lasted in the playoffs since their postseason-appearance streak began in 2009. They’ve been eliminated twice in the first round, lasting seven games in 2011 and six in 2012.
Good news on the health of Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton.
Teammate Wayne Simmonds told reporters that Laughton is talking and moving and will be released from hospital later today.
Laughton was taken to the hospital last night after crashing into the end boards during the Flyers’ 2-1 victory over the Capitals. He stayed overnight for “precautionary reasons.”
Game 5 of the Flyers-Capitals series goes tomorrow in Washington.
Today, the Flyers attended the celebration of owner Ed Snider’s life at Wells Fargo Center — a ceremony that featured a pretty good story about Snider and Donald Trump.
Apparently, Trump was once kicked out of Snider’s private suite during a playoff game — not because of politics, but because Trump wouldn’t stop talking to Snider.
Watch the story being told here:
The owners of the Calgary Flames have an ambitious plan to replace aging Scotiabank Saddledome, and they’ve promised not to “steal money from the city” to get the new arena built.
Yesterday, the city essentially told them to go back to the drawing board.
From the Calgary Herald:
The Calgary Flames’ ambitious vision to build a professional and amateur sports complex in the West Village hit a major roadblock Wednesday following the release of a city analysis showing CalgaryNEXT could cost ultimately about $1.8 billion and have taxpayers pay up to two-thirds of the tab.
“CalgaryNEXT,” administration concludes, “is not feasible in its present form or location.”
Despite the report, the Flames have said they “remain committed to the concept” and are intent on “coming back with a comprehensive response.”
But these are not easy economic times in Alberta, as the oil crash has created serious financial challenges for the province. On top of that, Calgary’s mayor has never been too enthusiastic about “spending very scarce public money on a professional sports arena.”
So this won’t be an easy deal for the Flames to get done, just like it wasn’t easy for the Edmonton Oilers to get theirs done.
On that note, perhaps the Flames will have to take a trip to Seattle at some point.
You know, just to take a look around.
Related: Calgary mayor jousts with Gary Bettman on topic of new arena
OK, here’s what Kris Letang said yesterday, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“When he was skating by the bench I said sorry. I didn’t know if I hit him or I hit Dominic (Moore) behind me. I got hit, and I went off balance and I was leaning forward. I just said sorry to the guy.”
And here’s what Viktor Stalberg said today, per the Tribune-Review:
“No, that’s not (true). I haven’t heard from him. Obviously I couldn’t care less if I did or not.”
So, what gives?
Well, it could be that Stalberg thought Letang had said he’d sent a text message. That’s sometimes how apologies are delivered in the NHL, and it’s consistent with the phrase “heard from him.”
Or, it could be that Stalberg didn’t hear Letang’s apology because he was focused on the three teeth he had just lost.
Or, it could be that one of Letang or Stalberg is a big, fat liar with his pants on fire.
You choose who to believe.
You choose what to believe.
All we know for sure is that Letang was neither penalized nor suspended for catching Stalberg with a high stick on Tuesday.
Oh, and we also know that Game 4 goes tonight at MSG, and that the Penguins lead the Rangers, 2-1.
Related: Shockingly, the Rangers and Penguins didn’t see the Letang slash the same way
The St. Louis Blues may have a 3-1 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, but they’ve hardly dominated the series.
In fact, based on Corsi, it’s been the defending Cup champions who’ve controlled most of the five-on-five action. Per war-on-ice.com, the ‘Hawks are at 54.3 percent in that puck-possession statistic.
In Game 4 at United Center, the Blues were outshot, 42-20, but came away with a 4-3 victory. They scored twice on the power play, and Brian Elliott was excellent again in goal.
“Timely goal-scoring never hurts, great goaltending never hurts,” captain David Backes told the Post-Dispatch.
This isn’t to say the Blues don’t deserve the chance to eliminate the ‘Hawks tonight at Scottrade Center. So far, they’ve done what they’ve needed to do. There’s nothing wrong with your goalie being your best player, which Elliott has been. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with burying your scoring chances, a specialty of Vladimir Tarasenko‘s.
Puck possession isn’t everything.
Rather, it’s a long way of saying this series isn’t over. Everyone remembers 2014, when the Blues won the first two games, only for the ‘Hawks to rattle off four in a row.
“We all know that the last one is the hardest one to get,” Jaden Schwartz said. “We’re just hungry to move on and prove ourselves. We had that same belief a couple of years ago. It was a tight series, that one could have gone either way. We’ve got a chance here to try to redeem ourselves.”