A quick look at the Western Conference finals and notes from the amazing double-OT win by the Bruins last night.
Game 4: #1 Chicago Blackhawks at #5 Los Angeles Kings, 9 p.m. ET (on NBCSN and live online) – Blackhawks lead series, 2-1
The Kings will look to knot the Western Conference Final at two games apiece and maintain their home-ice perfection this postseason (8-0) when they host the Blackhawks in Game 4 at Staples Center tonight.
The Blackhawks will be without 2010 Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, who was suspended for Game 4 for high-sticking the Kings’ Jeff Carter in the face. Keith will miss his first-career postseason game. The replacement for the solid, two-way defenseman has not been determined, but it figures to be the defensive-oriented Sheldon Brookbank or the puck-moving rookie, Ryan Stanton. The loss will be felt for a team that only got 20 shots on goal – and a single goal (Bryan Bickell) – in their 3-1 loss in Game 3.
Jonathan Quick, who stopped 19 shots in the Kings’ in Game 3, has been spectacular at home this postseason. He has a 1.13 goals-against average, with a .957 save percentage (201-of-210) and three shutouts, even better than the marks he put up at Staples Center during his Conn Smythe Trophy postseason of a year ago: 1.34 GAA, .945 save% (206-of-218) and two shutouts.
Mike Richards skated with the extras on Wednesday, and remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury (concussion). Carter will play after getting 20 stitches on the inside and outside of his mouth, a chipped tooth and a couple of cracked teeth in the meeting with Keith’s stick.
SUSPENSIONS, THIS POSTSEASON
|Andrew Ference||Bruins||ECQF, Gm 2 (check to head)||Dougie Hamilton||Lost G2|
|Eric Gryba||Senators||ECQF, Gms 2&3 (check to head)||Andre Benoit||Lost G2, won G3|
|Justin Abdelkader||Red Wings||WCQF, Gms 4&5 (charging)||Mikael Samuelsson||Won G4, lost G5|
|Raffi Torres||Sharks||entire WCSF (hit to the head)||several players||Lost series in 7|
|Duncan Keith||Blackhawks||WCF, Gm 4 (high sticking)||TBD||TBD|
ECQF = Eastern Conference Quarterfinals WCQF/WCSF/WCF = Western Conference Quarterfinals/Semifinals/Final
WHO ON EARTH IS … MARCUS KRÜGER?
In his third NHL postseason, Marcus Krüger has two goals, but the fourth-line center’s true value has been recognized with key shifts on the Blackhawks’ penalty kill that has a league-leading 96.2% (51-for-53) success rate. In 15 games, Krüger has played a total of 50:21 with the man-disadvantage, the second-most in the league, behind only teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson.
This week, Krüger is of one of two regional cover athletes for the June 10 issue of Sports Illustrated. (Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is the other.) The cover shows the Stockholm, Sweden native upending the Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli, one of his eight hits this postseason. Rather than concern himself with the “SI Cover Jinx,” though, the 22-year-old pivot should try to work on his faceoff skills. He is only 46-for-128 (35.9%) at the dot, worst among all skaters with at least 120 attempts, including 18-for-63 (28.6%) when the Hawks are short-handed. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinal series vs. the Red Wings, he went zero-for-11, the worst “oh-fer” since the Red Wings’ Igor Larionov went zero-for-12 in 2000.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Boston 2, Pittsburgh 1, 2OT – Bruins lead series, 3-0
According to an ESPN report, Bruins fourth-line center Gregory Campbell suffered a broken right leg while blocking a Evgeni Malkin slapshot in the second period, and will miss the remainder of the season.
The Bruins can close out the series sweep in Boston on Friday evening, on NBCSN.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Penguins haven’t been swept in a best-of-seven series since 1979, when the Bruins eliminated them in the NHL quarterfinals. On the Pens’ roster was Colin Campbell, father of the Bruins’ Gregory Campbell.
- A stitched-up Jeff Carter moves on to the next game [L.A. Times]
- An ill-timed vanishing act for Patrick Kane [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Greatness (Jaromir Jagr) steals center stage [Pittsburgh Tribune]
- Torey Krug story a family affair [Boston Herald]