There it is, Blackhawks’ fans- the wakeup call that Chicago has needed for a while now has finally arrived.
Sunday’s game wasn’t so much a contest as it was a clinic by the Bruins, who pounded the Blackhawks 6-2 in a game where the Hawks just couldn’t seem to catch a break. Corey Crawford was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots, while Tuukka Rask finished the game with a .929 sv%.
Jaroslav Halak is a clear cut NHL all-star. If you tuned into the NHL All-Star weekend, you would have noticed that John Tavares (arguably the MVP of the game last night despite the hometown guy taking the honors) was not the only Islanders player representing the blue and orange.
Halak has gone 25-9-0 this year in 34 games played this season to go along with a 2.41 GAA and .910 save percentage. Halak’s numbers are excellent, and he has been nothing short of spectacular for the New York Islanders this season.
Chad Johnson, who was supposed to be Halak’s co-star between the pipes, has appeared more like a stunt double; he’s only played when Halak’s needed a rest and has dealt with some ugly situations.
The Hawks game against the Bruins on Thursday night was a case of good news, bad news for the team.
On the bright side, the Hawks held on despite a third-period surge from the Bruins to win their eighth straight game and remain undefeated in December. Klas Dahlbeck also scored his first NHL goal to open the scoring for the Hawks after a slick pass from Ben Smith.
A late goal by Chris Kelly spoiled a fantastic goaltending performance by Steve Mason, leading to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Philadelphia Flyers' season opener.
In the first regular season game of the first year of his contract extension, Mason was nearly flawless. He stopped 31 of 33 shots, including several key stops. If the Flyers were to have won, perhaps a luxurious steak dinner was in his future due to his role in this game.
Tuukka Rask is good at getting in the way of things.
The Flyers were on the verge of another third period comeback, but it was Rask who stood in their way. He also stood in the way of 49 shots, leading the Bruins to a 4-3 shootout win at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday.
Rask proved why Boston gave him an extension in the offseason. Rask was also the reason Boston skated away with two points.
He fought off an Flyers onslaught in the third period. Philadelphia out-shot Boston 52-30 on the game, including 17-6 in the third period and 8-1 in overtime.
(Photo: Boston goalie Tuukka Rask stops Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek in the shootout. AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Blackhawks (31-8-11) are fresh off of a much-needed win against the red-hot Ducks, but they won’t get much rest before turning around to face the Boston Bruins (30-15-2) in a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup final. This will be the teams’ first meeting since the Hawks scored twice in 17 seconds to win the cup June 24th, 2013.
A certain controversial goaltender is looking to return to hockey in the NHL, and with a vacancy in Philadelphia after buying out Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers have been linked a few times the past couple days.
Sources close to free agent goaltender Tim Thomas state that the 39-year-old netminder is "intrigued" by the young nucleous of the Flyers, but is unsure of whether or not he is a fit for the Flyers. Thomas' agent, Bill Zito, made clear that he isn't entirely sure where Thomas is leaning in regards to his future destination.
And a source in Philly said the Orange and Black remain “uncertain” as well.
Just one day after buying out Ilya Bryzgalov, the Philadelphia Flyers are already being linked to a netminder that could replace Bryzgalov.
According to Josh Rimer of Sportsnet, the Flyers are discussing a potential deal involving Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. It is unclear what stage the talks are currently in but it appears that there is significant interest from both sides.
Miller posted a 17-17-5 record with a 2.81 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage during the 2012-2013 season. Over his career, the American goalie has a 269-164 record with a 2.59 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage. The American netminder made $6.25 million this past season and carries a similar price tag to Bryzgalov.
Miller was the 138th overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft out of Michigan State and has played with the Sabres for all 11 seasons of his professional career. The former Spartan was a member of the silver medal United States team in the 2010 Winter Olympics and was the MVP of the tournament.
In 2010, the Blackhawks were headed into Philadelphia for Game 6, up 3-2 in the series against the Flyers. In 2011, it was Boston at home, down 2-3 versus the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks. Both teams won their respective games.
These aren't the same Blackhawks. These aren't the same Bruins.
Both teams have a number of core players who were on their Cup-winning teams before. Those players know what has to be done and have to lead the way for the rest. Nobody can doubt that any player on other team doesn't have the will and desire to do whatever needs to be done to close out the series.