Goals Galore in Denver, Messier Praises Vasilevskiy, Montreal Keeps Marty, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Goals Galore in Denver, Messier Praises Vasilevskiy, Montreal Keeps Marty, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

How about Game One of the Western Conference Final? The 14 combined goals was the second-most ever in a conference final game (trailing a Blackhawks-Oilers game from 1985 and tying another Hawks-Oilers game from that same series). If you like speed, offense and more speed and offense, you’re gonna love that series.

Tonight we get the first game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Rangers and Lightning. Tampa is one series away from a third consecutive Stanley Cup Final. But the Rangers have come back big in the each of the first two rounds. The puck drops tonight on ESPN at 7 PM CT.

•   Yesterday in our conference finals preview, I referred to the Avs-Oilers series as “Ford vs Ferrari on Ice” and… yeah. Nailed it. Neither team’s starting goaltender finished the game; Mike Smith got the hook and Darcy Kuemper left with an upper-body injury. But the offenses were unstoppable.

•   The first controversy of the series came late in the first period. Cale Makar scored a goal in the final minute of the opening frame, but was the play offside? Edmonton thought so. The Oilers challenged the play, lost, and the Avs scored on the ensuing power play early in the second period to extend their lead. Here’s a look at the play, and the explanation:

•   Tonight we will probably see the polar opposite of last night’s game when the Lightning invade Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers. Two of the best goaltenders on the planet will go to work. Rangers (and Oilers) legend Mark Messier gave his former team some bulletin board material when he went all-in praising Tampa’s netminder.

•   A player whose resume includes time with both teams in the Eastern Conference Final made significant news on Wednesday morning. The Montreal Canadiens announced a three-year deal with Martin St. Louis to be their permanent head coach.

•   Happy birthdays to former Blackhawks Paul Coffey, Paul Hackett and Dylan Sikura.

•   If you’re interested in what’s going on at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, the guys at NHL dot com dropped a solid podcast with interviews of the top two prospects in this year’s class. It’s a good listen, even if the Blackhawks aren’t likely to get either player.

•   ICYMI a Cubs prospect hit a ball last night that hasn’t landed yet.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab