Day-16 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:
THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN…or any other NHL town for that matter, is tonight’s 2nd Round Opener between the Blackhawks and Red Wings in Chicago. The Hawks have had nearly a week to get healthy and prep for this game and apparently physical practice just isn’t enough for Coach Joel Quenneville as he appears to be playing mind games with arguably the fastest player on his roster.
Viktor Stalberg earned an assist and a plus-2 rating while playing all five games in the first round against Minnesota, but somewhere between last Thursday’s elimination game and this week’s practice that effort earned him the infamous “white jersey” at practice–in other words, the odd man out. Although remaining very non-specific why Stalberg appears to be in what players like to call “Le Chateau de Bow-wow” (aka, The Dog House), Quenneville made it clear that he is looking for that little something extra, “Stay ready, stay ready. Nobody said he’s out of the lineup, but keep yourself, make decisions tough on us.”
Stalberg on the other hand is doing precisely what any player under his circumstances should do when cast in an fully undefined role: “I really don’t have anything to say about it. Ask Q.” Smart move.
Other moves that favor the Blackhawks are the medical clearances for back-up goaltender Ray Emery and Center Dave Bolland (both had lower body injuries in the Opening Round). However, the way Corey Crawford is playing, Emery might as well pick up a paperback on his way to the UC, while Bolland will immediately be re-inserted on the third line.
Detroit on the other hand, hopes to ride a wave that carried them through the final week of the Regular Season and a 7-game upset of the Ducks that concluded on Sunday.
However, going into their series with Anaheim, the Red Wings at least went into the match-up knowing that they had solved the Ducks during the course of the season. The Blackhawks not only frustrated the Wings with a pair of OT victories, but then completely smoked ‘em with a 7-1 rout at The Joe.
Henrik Zetterberg–who hopes to build on productive performances in Games 6& 7 v. Anaheim knows the Hawks are a totally different animal;: ”I think we know it’s going to be a tough series. They played well all regular season. They took care of Minnesota pretty quick and they’ve been resting for a few days. It’s going to be a challenge for us, for sure, but the same way, if we play the way we want and do all the little things right, we have a chance.”
And this may also be the last chance to see these two rivals clash for some time, because with realignment next season Detroit will head over to the Eastern Conference and that means the only way they would meet in the future in the Post-Season, would be in the Finals.
Your INKTIME ON RINKTIME PREDICTION IS: Blackhawks in 6
TEEMU WATCH, PART II…Yesterday, I pointed out that once the Ducks were eliminated by the Red Wings the focus in Anaheim–and in many other parts of the world–was shifted to whether or not Teemu Selanne had played in his final NHL game? After listening to Selanne’s exit conversation with the Media…I’ve got a feeling that this will go down to his self-imposed July 1 deadline…which BTW, would be just two days shy of his 43rd birthday. Watch the video…listen…and then you tell me what you think IN THE COMMENT BOX BELOW.
UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen
|Detroit||at||Chicago||8:00 PM EST|