With their season on the line, the Chicago Blackhawks had some great opportunities to strike first in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but they couldn’t quite capitalize in the opening frame.
Perhaps Chicago’s best chance of the first period occurred near the halfway mark when a turnover by Ryan Getzlaf led to a great opportunity in front by Brandon Saad. Goaltender Frederik Andersen was able to stretch out to make the save.
Chicago also nearly opened up this game late in the frame when Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen wasn’t able to control the puck in the neutral zone, which led to Patrick Sharp flinging a shot at Andersen. The Ducks goalie made the initial save, but surrendered a juicy rebound for Teuvo Teravainen. Unfortunately for Chicago, he ended up missing the net.
You can watch those plays below:
Saad got another chance to bury the puck in the second period though and this time he would not be denied:
That opened up the floodgates as Marian Hossa and then Patrick Kane both found the back of the net within four minutes of Saad’s marker.
The Los Angeles Kings weren’t able to make the playoffs this season despite being the defending Stanley Cup champions, but their AHL squad has been very successful in their place.
The Manchester Monarchs earned a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack in Game 4 of Eastern Conference Final tonight. That completed Manchester’s sweep, setting the stage for the Monarchs to play either the Grand Rapids Griffins or Utica Comets in the Calder Cup Final.
This will be the Monarchs’ first appearance in the championship round. They led the AHL with a 50-17-6-3 record in the regular season.
Jordan Weal, 23, has been leading the charge for the Kings’ affiliate with 10 goals and 19 points in 14 playoff games. Michael Mersch, 22, isn’t far behind with 11 goals and 18 points.
Adrian Kempe accounted for the series-winning goal tonight. Nic Dowd and Brian O’Neill also scored for Manchester.
As anticipated, defenseman David Rundblad drew in for Chicago tonight in Game 6 against the Anaheim Ducks. That comes at the expense of 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen, who played in Chicago’s first 15 playoff games but was averaging just 9:25 minutes per contest.
Timonen had a 47.79% Corsi For in even strength situations, which was the third worst on the team among those that had participated in at least five playoff games.
Based on the pregame warmups though, the pairings are a bit different than expected. During the regular season, Rundblad would most often play with Duncan Keith and this afternoon it looked like he would skate alongside Kyle Cumiskey. Instead, Rundblad is projected to be paired with Johnny Oduya. Meanwhile Cumiskey will play with Brent Seabrook and Keith will join Niklas Hjalmarsson to form the top defensive unit.
Chicago has been leaning heavily on its top four defensemen throughout the playoffs and questions about its blueline depth only intensified after Michal Rozsival suffered an ankle injury. With these changes, we’ll have to see if the allocation of ice time is a little more balanced.