Author: Ryan Dadoun

Marian Hossa

Chicago hopes to fix struggling penalty kill


The Chicago Blackhawks were able to eliminate the Nashville Predators in six games, but it was far from the perfect series for them. One of their biggest issues in the first round was their performance when attempting to kill penalties.

Chicago only managed to escape 72.7% of Nashville’s power-play opportunities without allowing a goal. In total they surrendered six markers in the first round, which is more than any other team. That’s in contrast to 2014 when Chicago allowed just 10 power-play goals in 19 playoff games and the Blackhawks’ 2013 Stanley Cup-winning run when they were charged with just seven power-play goals against in 23 contests.

Making the matter even more worrying for the Blackhawks is the fact that their new opponent, Minnesota, went 4-for-12 with the man advantage in the first round.

“We definitely weren’t happy with how the PK worked out. We got scored on more than we’d like to,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “Right now we talk about it. We looked at some films to be on the same page, that’s the key.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hopes to get off on the right foot and build some confidence. If they don’t succeed in doing that, then this could become a critical issue for Chicago going forward.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight

Minnesota Wild v Calgary Flames

A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…

Lightning at Canadiens, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, but this year’s series might be different. Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov took big steps forward in 2014-15 to give the Lightning more offensive depth and goaltender Ben Bishop is healthy this time around. That being said, the player to watch tonight will be Lightning captain Steven Stamkos after he failed to score a goal in the first round.

Wild at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

This is the third year in a row Chicago will face Minnesota in the playoffs. The Blackhawks won the last two series, but as is the case with the Lightning, there are reasons for the Wild to think this year might be different. For Minnesota, the single biggest change is goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Since acquiring him on Jan. 14, Minnesota has been one of the best teams in the league. Dubnyk posted a 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage in 39 regular season contests with the Wild. He allowed six goals against the Blues in Game 4, but was far more hit than miss in that series and can be credited as one of the reasons Minnesota advanced. Corey Crawford, who temporarily lost the starting gig to Scott Darling due to Crawford’s rough start to the first round, will play between the pipes in Game 1.

PHT Morning Skate: Canadiens flag raised at Ottawa’s City Hall


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

As a result of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s bet with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, there is now a Canadiens flag raised at Ottawa’s City Hall (h/t MTL Blog):

John Tavares thinks the Islanders’ first round exit at the hands of the Washington Capitals is something he’ll carry forever. “It stings. It’s been a really hard last three days,” Tavares said. (Newsday)

A collection of hockey cards worth $200,000 that primarily featured Wayne Gretzky may have been stolen. (Postmedia Network)

Anaheim’s firefighters released a video in support of the Ducks’ efforts against the Calgary Flames:

There might be reasons coach Mike Babcock would consider joining the Edmonton Oilers beyond Connor McDavid. (Edmonton Journal)

Members of the old Winnipeg Jets reflect on the new version making the playoffs. (Winnipeg Sun)

Here are the highlights from Washington’s 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers:

Vladimir Sobotka might return to Blues from KHL

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 21: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues takes the puck in the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on January 21, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

St. Louis was missing veteran forward in Vladimir Sobotka this season because he opted to to play in the KHL rather than accept a one-year, $2.7 million contract from the Blues. He might come back for the 2015-16 campaign though.

That $2.7 million contract — which he would have to accept in order to retun to the NHL as it matches the arbitrators ruling — might be looking more appealing now as Russia’s ruble has gone down in value since last summer.

“When he left, it was a business decision and I respected that,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. “I understood it. He had to do what he to do and we had to do what was right for the organization. I’d welcome him back with open arms. I think the ruble is going to make his decision maybe a little bit easier. … If he wants to come back, I’d love to have him. I love what he brought to our team, love his attitude. I’m a huge fan of the man and I respected the business decision. It was never a personal thing from my perspective.”

Sobotka’s agent, Petr Svoboda, said that his client was looking for a one-year, $3 million deal from St. Louis last year, but the Blues agree to it. Sobotka went on to score 10 goals and 38 points in 53 contests while playing for the KHL’s Omsk Avangard. In his last season with St. Louis, he had nine goals and 33 points in 61 games.

Here’s the second-round schedule

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers

Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have beaten the Detroit Red Wings in seven games, the first round is over and the schedule for the next four series are locked.

There will be no break as Washington will play the Rangers tomorrow in the East while Calgary will take on Anaheim in the West. Here’s the complete schedule, courtesy of (please note that all times are ET):

Lightning vs. Canadiens
Friday, May 1 – 7 p.m. – Tampa Bay at Montreal (NBCSN)
Sunday, May 3 – 6 p.m. – Tampa Bay at Montreal (NBCSN)
Wednesday, May 6 – 7 p.m. – Montreal at Tampa Bay (USA)
Thursday, May 7 – 7 p.m. – Montreal at Tampa Bay (NBCSN)
*Saturday, May 9 – TBD – Tampa Bay at Montreal
*Tuesday, May 12 – TBD – Montreal at Tampa Bay
*Thursday, May 14 – TBD – Tampa Bay at Montreal

Capitals vs. Rangers
Thursday, April 30 – 7:30 p.m. – Washington at NY Rangers (NBCSN)
Saturday, May 2 – 12:30 p.m. – Washington at NY Rangers (NBC)
Monday, May 4 – 7:30 p.m. – NY Rangers at Washington (NBCSN)
Wednesday, May 6 – 7:30 p.m. – NY Rangers at Washington (NBCSN)
*Friday, May 8 – 7 p.m. – Washington at NY Rangers (NBCSN)
*Sunday, May 10 – TBD – NY Rangers at Washington
*Wednesday, May 13 – TBD – Washington at NY Rangers

Wild vs. Blackhawks
Friday, May 1 – 9:30 p.m. – Minnesota at Chicago (NBCSN)
Sunday, May 3 – 8:30 p.m. – Minnesota at Chicago (NBCSN)
Tuesday, May 5 – 8 p.m. – Chicago at Minnesota (NBCSN)
Thursday, May 7 – 9:30 p.m. – Chicago at Minnesota (NBCSN)
*Saturday, May 9 – TBD – Minnesota at Chicago
*Monday, May 11 – TBD – Chicago at Minnesota
*Wednesday, May 13 – TBD – Minnesota at Chicago

Flames vs. Ducks
Thursday, April 30 – 10 p.m. – Calgary at Anaheim (NBCSN)
Sunday, May 3 – 10 p.m. – Calgary at Anaheim (CNBC)
Tuesday, May 5 – 9:30 p.m. – Anaheim at Calgary (USA)
Friday, May 8 – 9:30 p.m. – Anaheim at Calgary (NBCSN)
*Sunday, May 10 – TBD – Calgary at Anaheim
*Tuesday, May 12 – TBD – Anaheim at Calgary
*Thursday, May 14 – TBD – Calgary at Anaheim