|Alex Broadhurst logged two points in London's 6-3 loss to Portland on Monday night. (Terry Wilson/OHL)|
After four games at the Memorial Cup, no clear frontrunners have emerged yet, as all four teams have won one and lost one. The London Knights opened the tournament with a 3-2 victory over the host team Saskatoon Blades, while the Portland Winterhawks lost their opener to Halifax in a wild 7-4 game. The two teams then met on Monday evening, pitting two Blackhawks prospects against one another. Portland emerged with a 6-3 victory, though London forward Alex Broadhurst and Winterhawks goaltender Mac Carruth both made the highlight reel for their individual efforts.
Broadhurst assisted on London’s first goal of the game and later tallied his first goal of the Memorial Cup early in the third period, which tied the contest at 3-3. Last night’s points were the first of the tournament for the 2011 draft pick, who shares third on the team with two points and a +1 plus/minus rating through two games.
Carruth, the Blackhawks' seventh-round selection in 2010, made 25 stops on 28 shots for Portland last night, including a toe save at the post while his back was turned to the play. Through two games, Carruth has allowed 10 goals on 63 shots faced.
London’s next game will take place tonight against the Halifax Mooseheads, champions of the QMJHL, while Portland will face Saskatoon tomorrow evening to finish the round robin phase of the tournament.
Many questions prefaced the start of the 2013 Western Conference Semifinal series between the Blackhawks and the Red Wings. Which team's possession game would win out? Would it be the superstars or the depth players who provided the points? Chicago answered Detroit's push late in the first period by sending puck after puck toward Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, outshooting their Original Six rivals 36-14 in the final two frames. In the third period, goals by Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger—the second of the playoffs for both Swedes—in the span of 3:21 gave the Blackhawks a commanding lead, and the final score of 4-1 seemed justified after a dominating team performance. Here's what the numbers tell us about Game 1:
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The Blackhawks surged past the Minnesota Wild in the opening round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, outscoring their quarterfinal opponents 17-7 in five games. The series featured two dramatic overtime victories, one for each team, stellar goaltending from Corey Crawford and a shutdown penalty kill that did not allow a single goal.
In the infograph below, the Blackhawks Blog breaks down the numbers behind Chicago's 4-1 series victory over Minnesota.
Mac Carruth has backstopped the Portland Winterhawks to the brink of the WHL title and a trip to the Memorial Cup—held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, later this month—after allowing just two goals in his last two games. Carruth made 38 saves on 39 shots in a 3-1 Game 3 victory on May 7 and followed that that performance with 29 saves on 30 shots the next night, as Portland won 2-1. The Winterhawks now lead the Edmonton Oil Kings 3-1 in the WHL final and can clinch their first Chynoweth Cup since 1998 with a win in front of their home fans on Friday night.
|(Bryan Heim/Portland Winterhawks)|
Mac Carruth has been here before—twice, in fact. The WHL Final, that old hurdle, is as difficult as promised, as the Winterhawks split their first two games against old foes, the Edmonton Oil Kings, over the weekend. Portland, with the league’s best regular-season record and thus home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, stand a better chance than ever before of clinching the Chynoweth Cup, but they are facing stiff competition in the defending league champions, who emerged from the East as worthy opponents after a seven-game series against the Calgary Hitmen.
1st Star: C Alex Broadhurst, London (OHL)
The Line: 3GP, 4G, 3A, +2 plus/minus
Broadhurst recorded points in all three of London’s playoff contests last week, including two consecutive three-point outings (4G, 2A) on April 24 and April 26. The 2011 seventh-round draft selection picked up the primary assist on the game-winning goal in Game 3 on April 23, tallied a pair—including the game-winner—the next night in Game 4, and added two more goals in Game 5, helping the Knights wrap up the Western Conference Championship with a 4-1 series win over the Plymouth Whalers. Broadhurst ranks second on the team with 21 points (9G, 12A) in 14 playoff games so far. London will face either the Belleville Bulls or the Barrie Colts, who will play Game 7 to decide the Eastern Conference title tonight.
|(Greg Hamil/Rockford IceHogs)|
1st Star: C Brandon Pirri, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 2GP, 1G, 4A, +3 plus/minus
The IceHogs fell short of a playoff spot despite a valiant push in April, winning eight of nine contests this month. Brandon Pirri, who led Rockford offensively down the stretch with 19 points (3G, 16A) over that span, captured the club’s first-ever John. B. Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL’s leading scorer with a career-high 75 points (22G, 53A) in 76 games. The Blackhawks’ second-round draft pick in 2009 logged a goal and two assists on Friday in a 9-4 win at San Antonio, then added a pair of helpers the next night in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory at Texas.
|(Greg Hamil/Rockford IceHogs)|
1st Star: C Ben Smith, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 2GP, 4G, 2A, +4 plus/minus
In an injury-plagued season, Ben Smith has nevertheless provided Rockford with an offensive boost whenever he’s in the lineup. Case in point: After missing seven games, Smith returned with a vengeance, netting his first career hat trick and adding an assist in the IceHogs’ 7-3 win over Chicago on April 12. The next night, in Milwaukee, Smith lit the lamp again, notching his second consecutive game-winner.
|(Photo courtesy St. Cloud State)|
1. Majored in math education (and minored in coaching), following in the footsteps of his father, who is also a math teacher. Part of the reason LeBlanc returned to St. Cloud State for a red-shirt fifth college season was so that he could finish his degree. He fulfilled his student-teaching requirement by taking charge of three algebra classes at nearby St. Cloud Apollo High School.
1b. LeBlanc's professional commitments kept him from growing out his hair to an untamed length as part of the Huskies' year-long Locks of Love campaign this past season.
2. The compound leg fracture that ended LeBlanc's 2011-12 season kept him off the ice, but it didn't keep him away from the team. He rolled himself to practice in a wheelchair after surgery, and later pulled an exercise bike next to the rink so that he could ride along while his teammates practiced.
3. Became the first St. Cloud State player to ever win the Hobey Baker Award after captaining the Huskies to the program's first-ever Frozen Four appearance. LeBlanc led the entire nation with 37 assists last season, and he was named WCHA Player of the Year. LeBlanc's excellence also extended to his academics, as he was named a WCHA Scholar-Athlete in four consecutive years, just the fifth player in school history to do so and the first to hold both college association honors at the same time.
4. LeBlanc was known for donning the No. 19 jersey for St. Cloud State (in honor of his hockey idol, Steve Yzerman); the number is obviously not available to him here in Chicago, and neither is the No. 29 jersey he wore during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. So he will wear No. 14, which has been inhabited by former Blackhawks Doug Bentley, Bill Gardner, Greg Gilbert and Ab McDonald.
5. The Hermantown, Minn., native is no stranger to Chicago. LeBlanc played for the USHL's Chicago Steel from 2006-08, recording 19 goals and 40 assists in 72 games before heading off to college.
Chicago native Paul Sinclair is an adventurer at heart—he's visited 43 of 50 American states and 7 of 10 Canadian provinces, pushing himself to the limit while photographing animals in their natural habitat. His latest trek was probably his most dangerous yet: a nine-day climb to Mount Everest base camp, battling the elements and the physical effects of the sky-high altitude. Carrying his regular gear, plus 15 lbs. of camera equipment, Sinclair needed an extra source of motivation to get him from one stopping point to the next. So he turned to his childhood love of the Blackhawks, who in late February and early March were enjoying a journey of their own into the NHL history books. Sinclair took the time to share his unique story and his stunning images with chicagoblackhawks.com.
Click here to view the photos >>