NHL playoffs round one update: Blackhawks face the broom

After five days and nights of action, we already find one team on the brink of being eliminated from the 2011 NHL playoffs. Following Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Chicago, the Blackhawks now stand one game away from being given the broom treatment by the Canucks.

But before they drop the puck on Tuesday night however, we will know if Vancouver will be without the services of Raffi Torres who delivered a ferocious shot to the head of Brent Seabrook behind the Chicago goal. Torres was playing his first game since returning from a four-game suspension after a similar hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle.

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville certainly thinks Torres deserves more time to sit and think about what he has done. After the game he said, “I thought it was a major [penalty] live and after seeing the replay, clearly”.

Either way, the Fat Lady may be delivering her first performance of the spring tomorrow night in the windy city.

Elsewhere around the league…a pair of other teams will look to go up three games to none in their series tonight. The Montreal Canadiens have taken a 2-0 lead on the Boston Bruins behind Carey Price’s 65 saves on 66 shots performance in the first two games. It took the Bruins 87:38 to finally slip one past the Habs netminder, Patrice Bergeron doing the honors for Boston.

Meanwhile, the Big Red Borg travel to Arizona for games three and four after taking the initial pair of games back in Detroit. The Coyotes just fell short of their comeback bid Saturday, losing 4-3 after surrendering four goals to the Wings in the first 21:11.

Tonight’s action will also include game three of the Penguins vs. Lightning and Sabres vs. Flyers series. Both of those are knotted at one game each.

Elsewhere, the Rangers won their all-important game three with the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon to close the gap on the Caps. Game four is Wednesday night and New York will look to tie that series up.

Back out west, the Kings bounced back from their overtime loss to San Jose and blanked the Sharks 4-0 in game two. Jonathan Quick stopped all 34 shots he face Saturday night to earn his first NHL playoff shutout. That series now heads to L.A. for the next two games.

And the Nashville / Anaheim series is turning out to be as much fun to watch as I thought it’s be. Last night the Predators made Mike Fisher’s goal halfway through the third period stand up as they fought off the Ducks. They take a 2 games to 1 lead into game four on Wednesday evening.

AHL Schedule Modifications

Here’s something else to discuss if you wish. Last week the AHL Board of Governors approved modifications to the league’s schedule and playoff format. Starting this fall, teams will play 76 games. Each team will lose two home and two away games.

Eliminated are any possibly scenarios where four games would be played in a five-day period.

Also, the first round of next year’s AHL playoffs will be a best of five series, instead of a best of seven.

AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews explained the reasoning behind these modifications saying, “As our league has grown and our game has become faster and more physical, the wear and tear on our players has begun to affect player development and at times the quality of competition. These steps are intended to provide a safer environment for our players through increased rest and recovery time, and also to provide our fans with an even higher caliber of play as a result of reduced player fatigue.”

128 comments Add your comment

Tom

April 18th, 2011
10:02 am

Tom

April 18th, 2011
10:05 am

It really is surprising that the AHL plays that many games. I know the Thrasher’s prospects play for a team that does not ascribe to being a developmental team, but for organizations like the Red Wings that work to develop new talent even 76 games and a long playoff schedule is a lot of wear and tear on young bodies.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
10:21 am

The Big Red Borg, that is classic!

Moe

April 18th, 2011
10:34 am

I just heard that the Bruins may put Tuuku Rask in nets for game 3 in Montreal tonight. I sure hope they panic and do that, what a blunder that would be. They have the best goaltender in the league and the thought of them putting in Rask would be unbelievable as a habs fan. I’m just loving the panic attacks right now by the Bruins…yah, stick in Tuuku and it’ll be 3-0 at the end of the 1st, and 3-0 in the series shortly thereafter…

hockeygoon79

April 18th, 2011
10:35 am

ZAvalanche, I like the BlogMaster’s name for the Wings too, “The Big Red Borg”. It’s very fitting for that organization. Seeing as you’re new around here, maybe you’ll appreciate this:

http://blogs.ajc.com/iceman-thrashers-blog/2010/11/24/will-resistance-be-futile-as-big-red-borg-invade-thrasherville/

Of couse we thumped them that night. Seems like years ago though.

Regarding the playoffs, I have to say I am most impressed with what Montreal has done against the Bruins so far. Good defense and timely goalkeeping equals success in the postseason. That’s exactly what Habs fans are being treated to right now. Boston faces a must-win game.

hockeygoon79

April 18th, 2011
10:36 am

Moe, agreed. That would be a huge mistake. Boston’s problem isn’t between THEIR pipes, it’s between Montreal’s. They need to concentrate on that end of the ice.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
10:38 am

I am really surprised by Montreal, Boston has to be a bit worried. That is not the upset I expected – at all. Some of the series have been fantastic, still bummed about the LA SJ series, I thought it would be more fun to watch. Detroit is always scary, even if they are a low seed.

ben

April 18th, 2011
10:44 am

good morning,

i really think that the canucks are going to destroy anything in their path. i was thinking yesterday while going through the nyt, is there / could there be a reason kovy, a dynamic offensive player, either misses the playoffs or makes early exits? is there really something to the idea that he is bad for team defense?

Moe

April 18th, 2011
10:46 am

hockeygoon79, exactly. Bruins just need to get the first goal and then they can shut things down like the Habs were doing in the first two games. Their defence needs to stop giveaways in their own zone too, Thomas was a sitting duck on a couple of the habs goals..

Hockey Biltong

April 18th, 2011
10:51 am

When you watch Montreal with their speed and finesse, you sort of wonder why the Thrashers never developed that way, having heard that it was their goal to Be that way. uuuuuuurrrrrrrp!

Hockey Biltong

April 18th, 2011
10:52 am

oh yeah, 10th and 11th.

Hoof Arted

April 18th, 2011
11:15 am

Vancouver looks like they’re the real deal. I think the only team that might have a chance to keep them out of the finals is Detroit. I look for these two to be in the WCF.

San Jose is struggling against a Kings team that should be brushed aside. Although I think LA is playing very well on defense and Quick has looked sharp too.

Can’t say enough about Price and the Habs. Boston better snap out of it or they’ll be this year’s choke job.

Nashville and Anaheim has been great series to watch. Two equal teams slugging it out. I hope this one goes 7.

The Rangers are hanging tough with Washington but I think they’ll fall just short.

Flyers and Sabres and Lightning Pens are both interesting series. Could go either way.

NHL playoff hockey. THIS is what it’s all about!

Moe

April 18th, 2011
11:17 am

In regards to the Canucks BlackHawks series, I must say that 3-0 is a bit surprising. There are times during all three games that the Blackhawks had unbelievable scoring chances. I just can’t see the Blackhawks going out without a fight. They’ll win the next two, but then lose game 6 in Chicago in overtime.

KLS1

April 18th, 2011
11:31 am

Playoffs have been fun to watch, always reminds me that everything is cranked up a couple levels.

And of course reminds me of how far the Thrashers are from competing at that level.

tough guy

April 18th, 2011
12:03 pm

you should maybe think about having someone edit your writing…
the red wings are not going back to arizona for games 4 and 5… they’re going back there for games 3 and 4 last time i checked.

Joe Friday

April 18th, 2011
12:04 pm

Hawks are missing the grit, just not there this year. Ladd and Buf brought a lot of that, good stratgery by the Canuckleheads to be hitting all the time. The more I see Bieksa and Ehrhoff, the more I want one of them here, get ‘er done.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
12:06 pm

Moe posted: “I just can’t see the Blackhawks going out without a fight.”

I think they have fought extremely hard in all three games, but Vancouver is just a better team! The Blackhawks were outshot by just one in both games in Vancouver and outshot the Canucks by six last night. Interesting that the Canucks have only had six PP opportunities to the Hawks 12 in three games.

Don’t think this one will last to a Game 6.

Rawhide

April 18th, 2011
12:13 pm

Moe – Nothing against Rask, but I’m with you…they should stick with Thomas.

Zavs – I think Big Red Borg adequately describes that franchise for the past two decades. Glad ya like it.

tough guy – Thanks for the catch. My bad. Post has been corrected.

Red Light – I agree. The Hawks haven’t exactly been kicked all over the ice. Vancouver is just that good.

World Be Free

April 18th, 2011
12:16 pm

Hawks let too many good opportunities get away from them especially in Game 3. Should have been 3-0 at the end of one. Seabrooke took the big, dirty hit and skated away.

Torres should be banished for the balance of the playoffs, enough of this garbage. Watch footage of 70’s and 80’s game and you just didn’t see that stuff. If a player did what Torres did back then he’d get his head kicked in.

J/F-entire Canucks defensive corps underrated, all of them. Bieksa will make alotta money this summer.

World Be Free

April 18th, 2011
12:20 pm

A scoring forward this summer? I know we don”t spend money but, the best way to get an impact player in here after July 1 is with an offer sheet. Will it happen? Probably not, but the offer sheet is now the fastest way to get an impact player and not paying him for past results, but future potential.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
12:21 pm

Brian Boucher will start tonight in Game 3 for the Flyers. Leighton, not Bob, is the back-up.

Have to think Thomas will start tonight for Boston, but the leash will be a short one.

James Mirtle says Julien’s future behind the bench is hinged upon tonight’s game.

“If they can’t rally in this series, starting with a win tonight, and Julien is thrown overboard, this will be his third firing in the six seasons since the lockout.”

glovesave29

April 18th, 2011
1:08 pm

Torres is gonna feel the wrath from the league office because the puck was there next to him and playable, but instead he ignored it, and left his feet and went after Seabrooks head. The purpose of checking is to separate the man from the puck…Torres was just trying to separate the man from his head.

glovesave29

April 18th, 2011
1:11 pm

….aaaaaaand right as I post that, the league decides not to look into the matter. So now one of two things occurs – 1. He gets demolished by a Blackhawk, or 2. Vignault decides he’s to risky to play and lets him sit in the press box.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
1:20 pm

A month or so ago I posted that I thought that Vancouver was the real deal and they would roll through the WC, I can’t remember who it was (and don’t care enough to go back and look), but somebody said the Sedin twins would fold in the playoffs. Got any crow to eat? Don’t get me wrong, I have zero love for Vancouver, but I can recognize a good team when I see them. Here is hoping for a “Big Red Borg” vs “Worst Jerseys Ever” WCF. = Awesome match-up.

I will admit though that I would love to see Nashville get in there but I don’t think they have the power to take out either team. Chicago isn’t playing badly, they just don’t have the depth through 4 lines that the ‘Nucks have. Sorry Hawks fan, it isn’t your year this year.

Hoof Arted

April 18th, 2011
1:31 pm

ZAvalance, you see more of the Canuck out there than we do. But from everything I’ve seen of them I have to agree with you. That’s as solid a team as you’re going to find.

I think people sometimes tend to get caught up in that “Presidents Trophy Jinx” thing, so thats why some might tend to say they’ll fold under the pressure of playoffs. Maybe some just don’t ike going with the “chic” pick.

There is still a bunch of hockey to be played for sure and they’ll still have to tangle with the Wings before all is said and done I believe, but right now they are as good as advertised.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
1:32 pm

Glove, I didn’t see the hit but I guarantee that the coach is telling all of his players not to retaliate in any fashion. The only way I see it happening is if it is a series-ending game and they are up by at least 4 goals.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
1:39 pm

Hoof, I totally agree. There is a lot more that they need to do before they are considered “legit”, because after all, they are playing an 8th seed = they should sweep them. But that is by far the deepest team in the post season. The Wings are always scary and Howard is playing well, along with Zetterburg and Datsyuk (sp). Franzen is a horse (maybe I should say Mule) and they are going to be hard to beat, even by Vancouver.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
2:07 pm

When the Canucks advance, the key to the Preds ability to advance is whether or not either the Coyotes or Kings pull off the first-round upset. Follow along please.

If Nashville is the “highest” seed to advance as the No. 5, then they are stuck going to Vancouver for the Conference Semi-Finals. If the Canucks advance in four or five games, they could be rested when taking on the Preds, who probably will take a minimum of six games to advance (if they in fact do). If the Canucks take out the Hawks on Tues. or Thurs., they will have a minimum of five to seven days of rest/practice to prepare for the Preds.

However, if the Kings advance, or the Yotes pull off the upset, then the Preds are off the hook playing the Canucks until the WC Finals.

Now, could the Canucks experience the post-Blackhawks hangover (huge sigh of relief for them) or will they simply just sail along to the WC Finals? I actually believe the Preds have a shot in that match-up because of Rinne and the all for one, one for all team concept they employ. They are 4-4 vs. the Canucks during the past two regular seasons, and while that might not mean much, it could help their confidence against them.

Think I’m crazy?

Badger Bob

April 18th, 2011
2:25 pm

RL, I think anything is possible in the post-season, so no you’re not crazy. Vancouver is scary good, but many scary good teams have run into hot goalies, complacency and bad bounces and gotten bounced. Scary VAN stat mentioned last night – they have won 43 straight games in which they’ve held a two goal lead. A bit of a contrast from our Thrash, huh.

The lack of discipline on Torres is a joke. Seabrook never gained control of the puck and Torres made no attempt to play the puck, so that’s just dirty. I guess NHL is hiding behind the “behind the net” zone part of the rule, but it was gutless and counterproductive to not suspend him. He’ll be in the press box since Vignault won’t want to motivate the Hawks in any way.

Tom

April 18th, 2011
2:36 pm

ZAvs – I really thought that Chicago would hold their own in this series. I was wrong. Vancouver is hitting on all cylinders and playing some excellent hockey.

GaVaHokie

April 18th, 2011
3:07 pm

I’m not impressed by any of the Eastern Teams right now… Vancouver is amazing, and Detroit is… well… Detroit. The Red Wings know what to do this time of year.

Vancouver looks like they’re the real deal. I think the only team that might have a chance to keep them out of the finals is Detroit. I look for these two to be in the WCF.

Hoof arted… I concur.

Badger Bob

April 18th, 2011
3:07 pm

With the Blogmeister’s mention of the AHL, I’m reminded how desperately we need to find an affiliate for true player development. With all 30 AHL teams tied to the 30 NHL teams, I’m not exactly sure where that leads. But in looking at the affiliations, I’m less concerned about geography than I once was – at least 10 NHL teams have further flung AHL affiliates than Les Thrash, including VAN, SJ and ANA.

Spud Webb

April 18th, 2011
3:24 pm

Yes Red Light I do think you’re crazy!! but I can see what your saying happening for sure. I LOVE watching that preds team. Impressed. I think that they can play with and beat anybody right now. Renne, the BEAST at 6′4.
Glovesave, I vote for this to happen…” 1. He gets demolished by a Blackhawk.” Hawks have played well but Vancouver has a resolve this season I’ve not seen with them before. Gritty and skilled for sure & of course the best goalie in the world.

Spud Webb

April 18th, 2011
3:26 pm

& I don’t feel bad for the Hawks, that team is still LOADED, name after friggin name on that team, but they’re missing something for sure.

Badger Bob

April 18th, 2011
3:30 pm

Spud, drinking the Luongo Koolaid? But I totally agree on their grit. Even all their Swedes have mean, mad game faces on. Those two losses to EDM at the end of the season was probably the best thing for them.

hockeygoon79

April 18th, 2011
3:32 pm

I don’t think you’re crazy at all, Red Light. It’s the playoffs and anythng can happen. Nothing is a certainty. The whole scheme of things could unravel on one play, one goal. That’s why we love watching.

I’ll be keeping an eye of the Bruins-Habs game tonight. Boston has to find a way to win or they’re done.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
3:40 pm

Don’t think much of this Red Wings organization, they’ve only won 57 playoff games and one Stanley Cup since the 2002 Playoffs. They’re overrated!

Spud Webb

April 18th, 2011
3:46 pm

RL, the Avery line last night, showed up for you. What did you think about that?

Moe

April 18th, 2011
3:59 pm

According to news from Boston, “Tim Thomas was the first Bruin goalie off the ice this morning, giving the indication that he’ll be the starter for tonight’s Game 3 against the Canadiens.” So it doesn’t look like Julien is going to do anything silly and put Rask in. Looks like Chara will play too, althogh I’m a Habs fan, I think Boston will score the first goal and win tonight.

Lee

April 18th, 2011
4:03 pm

According to Yahoo, the third jersey’s are leaving and apparantly look like “Motocross jerseys.”

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Eulogy-Worst-3rd-jersey-in-the-NHL-has-been-off?urn=nhl-wp2849

Personally I don’t think we need a 3rd, but they sure don’t look like motocross!

Looking forward to next year….

Darkhorse

April 18th, 2011
4:05 pm

So, if Chicago is swept or only wins one, do they make any core changes to the roster or coaching?

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
4:08 pm

Dark, I don’t think so. I think accessory changes. Their top 2 lines are pretty darn good.

ZAvalanche

April 18th, 2011
4:12 pm

RL, I don’t think you can ever discount a Red Wings team. They work HARD. Yup, I hate them, but you have to respect them or you are going golfing with Smoothie.

glovesave29

April 18th, 2011
4:53 pm

Lee – sorry, scooped ya by about a week on that one!

VAN has looked great, true…but they have a score to settle with the Hawks. Let’s see if they can keep up the intensity going forward. This is a long, grueling tournament…gotta have the right mindset for 2 months.

Torres will get his come-uppance. Especially with game 4 being a possible elimination game AND being in Chicago. No better way to get the crowd behind you (other than an early goal) than to cream the guy who tried to take out your man.

Brendan

April 18th, 2011
5:12 pm

What do you make of Crawford’s play during this series? I don’t think he’s the reason they’re down, 3-0, to the ‘Couv. For any Canucks fans out there, they really need to close out the series. When you’re running a marathon … and you get the chance to take a 3-mile shortcut to the finish line, you TAKE IT, TAKE IT, TAKE IT.

So, Boucher tonight, huh? Revolving goaltenders in Philly. Well, they’ve got three (3) of them. I assume the Sabres will go with Miller, not Enroth. I’m looking for the Penguins to bounce back versus the Lightning. Nashville vs. Anaheim has been the best series so far. Runner-up: NYR vs. Washington. 3rd runner-up: SJS vs. LAK.

Most disappointing series so far … I’m not even going with Vancouver/Chicago. I’ll go with the Bruins-Habs.

Brendan

April 18th, 2011
5:21 pm

I support a suspension of Torres through the CF. But I’d say … let him return for the SCF. He’s a multiple-offender now, so … he can’t exactly feign innocence, falling back on his white, clean history.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
6:26 pm

No punishment nor suspension Brendan.

Red Light

April 18th, 2011
6:27 pm

Screw the Wings ZAvs. They’re Alan R.’s and Sara’s favorite team. LOL

World Be Free

April 18th, 2011
7:02 pm

You have to wonder what the league is thinking with Torres. Media and fans alike were convinced that Torres was done for some time. Here is the real issue for Vancouver-will somebody go after the Sedins? Torres and Lapierre better tone it down or the Black Hawks will focus their attention on the Canucks’ skill players. The Canucks are going to win anyhow, why piss the Hawks off so much that they take liberties with their skill guys?

jim

April 18th, 2011
7:09 pm

Those third jerseys were brutal …glad to see them gone!!!

I think the dark blue Thrashers uniforms look the best with “ATLANTA” down the sleeves…very cool look.

Now we all wait for some good news on the ownership front…Coyotes situation still in the air but Winnipeg looks more and more likely barring a last minute rescue plan by the NHL buying up the bonds or Glendale,Arizona dipping into its $400 million reseve fund.