Key Matchup-

The focus of the Blues will be to shut down Art Ross winner Patrick Kane, who finished with a career-high 46 goals and 60 assists, and that responsibility will fall to Alex Pietrangelo. Kane prefers the control of having the puck as much as possible, and it will be Pietrangelo who will need to manipulate Kane into rushing shots he isn’t ready to take.

Chicago Blackhawks-

Winning Formula: 

The Blackhawks are stacked with talent with the likes of offensive weapon Patrick Kane, phenomenal two-way center Jonathan Toews, and premier defenseman Duncan Keith. Corey Crawford remains at the top of his game in the crease. Added defense comes from the skilled Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov on Keith’s line adding more dimension to the team’s defensive game. Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, and Tomas Fleischmann add new depth to an already tremendous team and it will be interesting to see how Joel Quenneville chooses to use them throughout the series.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

The Blackhawks are a modern day dynasty with three Stanley Cup wins since 2010, but has not won in two years. They have players from those previous wins in their ranks, but the question is if it’s been too much; too much play and pressure taking a toll on a star studded team. The Hawks have averaged 16.7 playoff games per season since 2009-10, and Kane, Toews, Keith, Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa have been roster pillars for each of those runs. The playoffs mean less time off of arguably the most physically and mentally demanding major sport in the world.

St Louis Blues-

Winning Formula:

This is not a David vs Goliath series. The Blues are a force to be reckoned with. Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri provide youth and jump on the wings. David Backes, Colton Parayko, Troy Brouwer add size to the team. Paul Stastny and Jori Lehtera are playmakers. Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jay Bouwmeester make up a blueline that is both strong and mobile and able to manipulate adversaries; while every line plays some degree of a defensive game including the team’s offensive lines. St Louis has never finished worse than seventh in goals against since Ken Hitchcock took over coaching duties in 2011-12.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

St. Louis averages the fewest goals per game of any franchise in playoff contention. The team has dealt with injuries, players getting older such as Backes, and players like Fabbri and Dmitrij Jaskin being too inexperienced to be true weapons in a battle such as this. Criticism is aimed at GM Doug Armstrong who did not address the glaring scoring issues this team has at the trade deadline. Jake Allen in the crease has come into his own when Brian Elliot wasn’t in the position over the last season, but looking at his .904 save percentage in the 2015 playoffs, losing four of six starts it’s understood that he cannot perform that way in this series if the Blues want a shot at round two, lucky for the St Louis they have Elliot on hand if Allen doesn’t live up to his last season’s performance.

Prediction: Blackhawks in 6

 

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey

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WINNIPEG – After a crazy last few days, the Winnipeg Jets were looking to snap out of a five-game losing streak with the Chicago Blackhawks in town. The Jets had beaten the Hawks three straight times all in Chicago and the Hawks were coming to town in a real snarly mood having been shut out two straight games and winning only one of their last four. The Jets played a solid game only to lose 2-1 in overtime after some fancy stickhandling by Patrick Kane led to a sixth straight loss.

“It was tough to generate [opportunities],” Kane said. “[The win is] big. I think it was a big game against that team and also a big game for our team. It was one of those games where you had to stay patient, keep yourself in the game and just wait for your opportunities.”

Lost in all the turmoil surrounding the Evander Kane saga that has been going on the last few days was that public enemy number one, Dan Carcillo of Chicago, was making his return to the lineup after serving a six-game suspension for his vicious cross check to the arm of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault just before the All Star break. Just under two minutes into the game Chris Thorburn challenged Carcillo and the two dropped the gloves for a pretty one-sided affair as Thorburn got the decision in this one.

The Jets played a very good game in Vancouver only to lose in OT and were looking to build on that in this game. Although this was a low scoring affair it was a rather entertaining contest between the two division rivals. It was a physical battle and there was a lot of yapping going on. It was a neutral zone chess match with tight checking from both teams. A real playoff type game.

“We weren’t happy with where we were coming out of the [All-Star] break with those games, but we’re happy with our [past] two [games],” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We’d like to have won them. It goes without saying, but we can understand more of what we saw, so now we have a better comfort level of getting back to our game.”

Michael Hutchinson got the start and was sharp although not busy making 20 saves off 22 shots including a couple huge stops off Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw. It was his first loss to the Blackhawks this season as he has had their number.

Corey Crawford was in the pipes for Chicago and also made 20 saves to get the win. He made a couple huge stops off Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little.

“That was a pretty physical team,” Crawford said. “We just had to be smart with the puck, especially at the end of the third period. We made the right plays when we had to. It’s just a big win for us right now.”

Chicago got goals from Patrick Kane who scored his 28th a beauty as he snapped a laser beam top shelf. Brandon Saad notched his 16th the OT winner after some sweet dangles from Kane.

Jets got their lone goal off the stick of Mark Scheifele who scored his 8th on slick pass from Perreault.

Byfuglien seemed to be fired up as he was moved up front after Evander Kane was scratched and now shut down for the season. Big Buff seemed to be getting chances every time he was on the ice and was also a thorn in the Hawks side banging and crashing as well as getting in the face of Crawford every time the puck was close.

“It was hard for any team to get traction,” Maurice said. “So I think because of the way the game was played, we’re not 100 percent responsible for the way the game is played. [Each] team [has] a [really] big impact. [Each] team [was] kind of doing the exact same things.

“There were just a lot of pucks along the walls. It looked like they were trying to bat a lot of pucks. [Each] team [was not] sure of which way the puck was going on a lot of the confrontations, and it slowed the game down.”

The Jets found out today that Kane will require surgery on his shoulder and be out 4-6 weeks possibly ending all rumors he will be moved before the deadline.

Follow me on Twitter @hrank94

The NHL has the most storied and beautiful trophy in all of sports with the Stanley Cup, but the other trophies and awards the league boasts deserve to be well know as well. Below is a guild to the team trophies and individual awards and trophies and those currently holding the honors.

Team trophies:

Stanley Cup: Originally it was a challenge cup from its creation in 1893 but in 1915 it became an interleague championship trophy until 1926. It is now awarded to the NHL playoff champion.

Current holder: Los Angeles Kings

Prince of Wales Trophy: Is awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champion.

Current holder: New York Rangers

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Is awarded to the Western Conference playoff champion.

Current holder: Los Angeles Kings

Presidents’ Trophy: Is awarded to the club that finishes the regular season with the best overall record based on points. If two teams tie for the most points, then the trophy goes to the team with the most wins.

Current holder: Boston Bruins

Individual trophies:

Hart Memorial Trophy: Each year the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote to determine the player who was the most valuable to his team and the league during the regular season. This is considered the prestigious individual award in hockey.

Current holder: Sidney Crosby

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Is awarded to the NHL player that exhibits the most sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. The Professional Hockey Writers Association vote and each individual voter rank their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system.

Current holder: Ryan O’Reilly

Vezina Trophy: Is awarded to the NHL’s top goaltender. The thirty NHL general managers vote to determine the winner.

Current holder: Tuukka Rask

Calder Memorial Trophy: Is awarded to the NHL’s most outstanding rookie player. The winner is decided by a vote of Professional Hockey Writers’ Association members at the conclusion of each regular season.

Current holder: Nathan MacKinnon

Art Ross Trophy: Is awarded to the NHL player that leads the league in total points at the end of the regular season. In case of a tie the NHL has three tiebreakers: player with most goals, player with fewer games played and player scoring first goal of the season.

Current holder: Sidney Crosby

James Norris Memorial Trophy: Is awarded to the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. At the end of the regular season the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote to determine the player who was the best defenseman.

Current holder: Duncan Keith

Conn Smythe Trophy: Awarded to the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs as voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and based on the whole NHL playoffs not just the championship game.

Current holder: Justin Williams

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy: Is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association after each team nominates one player in competition. It is often awarded to a player who has come back from career ending or even life-threatening illness or injury

Current holder: Dominic Moore

Ted Lindsay Award: Is awarded to the NHL’s outstanding player as selected by the members of the NHL Players Association. Before 2010 this award was known as the Lester B. Pearson Award. Votes are not made public.

Current holder: Sidney Crosby

Jack Adams Award: Is awarded to the NHL coach judged to have contributed the most to his team’s success. The winner is determined at the end of the regular season by a poll of the National Hockey League Broadcasters Association.

Current holder: Patrick Roy

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Is awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The winner is determined at the end of each regular season by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Current holder: Patrice Bergeron

William M. Jennings Trophy: Is awarded to the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it in the regular season.

Current holders: Jonathan Quick

NHL Plus-Minus Award: Is awarded to the player the played a minimum of 60 games with the highest plus/minus statistic in the regular season. It is a commercially sponsored award that has been sponsored by different companies over the years and has had many names as a result. Since the 1998–99 season to the present, it has been known as the Bud Light Plus-Minus Award.

Current holder: David Krejci

King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. The winner is chosen by a panel of representatives from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and the NHL Broadcasters’ Association and has never been won more than once by any player.

Current holder: Andrew Ference

NHL Foundation Player Award: Is awarded to the player who applies the core values of hockey to enrich the lives of people in his community. The winner is given a grant of $25,000 to help causes that the player supports.The winner is determined by a panel consisting of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL executives Pat Flatley, Bernadette Mansur and Kenneth Martin Jr.

Current holder: Patrice Bergeron

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy: Is awarded to the top goal scorer in the regular season. The trophy was donated to the NHL by the Montreal Canadiens during the1998–99 season and is named in honor of Montreal Canadiens right winger Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Current holder: Alexander Ovechkin

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award: Is awarded to the goaltender that has played a minimum of 25 games in the regular season and has the highest save percentage. The award is presented by the MBNA corporation in memory of Roger Crozier, who worked for the MBNA America Bank after retiring as a player. The winner receives a commemorative crystal trophy and is given $25,000 to donate to a youth hockey or other educational program of their choice.

Current holder: Josh Harding

Mark Messier Leadership Award: Is awarded by Mark Messier  to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.

Current holder: Dustin Brown

NHL General Manager of the Year Award: Is awarded to the top NHL General Manager and is determined by a 40-member panel including 30 general managers, five NHL executives and five media members.

Current holder: Bob Murray