Full marks to the Blackhawks and Canadiens for their resiliency. Both clubs ventured home down 3-1 and gritted out a win in a couple of wild affairs.
In both games the home squads jumped out to early leads only to see them evaporate. I can only imagine how deflating it must be to earn that lead and then lose it. I know that all I’d be thinking is, “here we go again." But there’s a reason these teams have made it this far so it isn’t exactly surprising to see them continuing to fight.
Patrick Kane was named first star of the game after recording four assists in the contest. I’ll admit he was good – and good for Kane stepping up after being called out by several media outlets – however, I was more impressed by Kane’s linemate, Brandon Saad.
Saad had a goal and two assists. One was a bit fluky but the other (on the game winner) was just solid. Meanwhile, three of Kane’s four assists were of the secondary variety. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Kane was a passenger, just along for the ride but I really do believe Saad was the best player in red. That’s a nice luxury for the Blackhawks to have a guy like Saad who can help lift a star like Kane.
It was Michal Handzus who scored the double-OT winner, by the way. Zeus still has some dirty mitts on him.
I had a buddy of mine from work, a Blackhawks fan, telling me that he wanted Antti Raanta in net for last night’s game. All I could do is shake my head. I’m not over the moon for Corey Crawford by any means. I actually think the fat extension the Blackhawks gave him was a mistake as he’ll cramp up their cap sheet long term but that’s irrelevant to this discussion. Crawford has struggled in this series but there’s no going to Raanta on short notice like this. May as well lay down if you’re going that route.
Chicago made the (obviously) correct choice in going back to Crawford. He was by no means great but he made the Kings work. Their first three goals were all of the greasy variety. Not much Crawford could do.
The fourth – LA’s go ahead goal in the second by Tanner Pearson – that was a softy, no question about it. But otherwise Crawford had a good outing.
I thought Quick had a stellar game despite the seemingly ugly result. He made some absolutely wicked saves. No shame in this loss.
Drew Doughty, surprise, surprise, had himself a game. He was held scoreless but landed nine shots on goal and played 39 minutes total, tops among all skaters.
Doughty is the anchor that let’s everyone else on the Kings be great but it’s interesting to see how the depth is filling in around him. For instance, the Kings are putting more faith in Jake Muzzin. He was second on the team in ice time last night, skating over 30 minutes. Not bad for a guy you’d never heard of a year and a half ago.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season with Kopitar on the ice at even-strength, the Kings have attempted 60 percent of the shot attempts (the third best mark in the NHL, behind only Kopitar's teammate Justin Williams and Bergeron) and scored more than 61 percent of the goals. He's also averaged more than two minutes of shorthanded ice-time per game over that stretch (tops among Kings forwards) and has 53 power play points.
Watch Muzzin obliterate Marcus Kruger.
I'm not sure what was more impressive; how monstrous the hit was, that it was actually clean or that there was no fight afterwards. There are a million reasons to love playoff hockey but not having the obligatory fight after a huge hit is up there.
What do you guys think of John Moore’s future? I’ve got to admit, I don’t see a lot there.
I acquired Moore before the playoffs began hoping he’d really gain some steam if the Rangers went far. The Rangers have gone far but I don’t see any steam. Obviously he’s still young, not to mention judging off playoffs can be dangerous but I’m not overly excited. I feel like I bought a lemon. Guess what that means?
So you’ve read about much of the Barry Trotz to Washington fallout already but there is some discussion that vaunted goalie coach Mitch Korn may follow him. That would be a coup. Korn has done some fantastic work over the years providing the Predators with an endless stream of quality goaltending.
It should be said that the Capitals haven’t exactly had issues finding quality goaltending. In the past 10 years they’ve trotted out several promising young goaltenders. It seems their only issue is with picking one and sticking with him. Braden Holtby owners should be hoping that’s the case with the big front office turnover.
One thing worth mentioning is how Holtby’s struggles didn’t really begin until current Caps goalie coach Olaf Kolzig started messing with his mechanics. I can’t speak to whether or not Kolzig is a good goalie coach but I can tell you that Holtby was coming along just fine before this season.
I’m sure you’ve read that the Sharks plan on moving Brent Burns back to defense. Fear the Fin thinks that would be a mistake. I tend to agree. As valuable as minutes-crunching defensemen are I just feel like Burns at forward has been like unleashing a dragon in a dragon-free world.
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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