On Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to fire assistant coach Mike Haviland, who'd been on their big league staff for the past four years, including the Stanley Cup-winning 2010 campaign. Prior to that, Haviland had done a strong job as the club's minor league head coach at both Norfolk (2005-07) and Rockford (2007-08), earning the promotion to Chicago.
In speaking about Haviland's departure on Tuesday night, head coach Joel Quenneville admitted there had been some "dysfunction" on his coaching staff. He'll now get to fill the vacancy.
Truth be told, Quenneville has wanted to hire his own assistant coaches since arriving behind the Hawks bench in Oct. 2008. Quenneville inherited Haviland when he replaced Denis Savard just four games into the 2008-09 season. Hawks insiders say Quenneville has never been completely comfortable with Haviland.
An experienced and accomplished coach, Quenneville definitely wasn't thrilled to have the club's Director of Player Development Barry Smith join the staff for the final six weeks of the season in an effort by upper management to jump start the team's struggling special-teams units.
Smith, of course, has deep ties to the Hawks' Senior Advisor for Hockey Operations, Scotty Bowman, working as an assistant coach for the legendary Bowman in both Pittsburgh and Detroit. Prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, for reasons not fully explained, Smith moved back upstairs.
The Hawks' power-play unit, which finished the season ranked No. 26 in the League, should be better, given the talent on the roster.
The penalty kill, however, which finished the regular season No. 27, was sabotaged by inconsistent goaltending. If GM Stan Bowman doesn't address that problem this summer, there's no assistant coach anywhere that will make that unit markedly better.
It sounds like it'll continue to be an interesting summer in the Windy City.
Now, let's take a quick trip on the Express.
Zach Parise, who could hit the open market as a free agent on July 1, certainly isn't hurting his already substantial market value with his stellar play in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The hard-working winger has been at the forefront of the club's aggressive forechecking attack, posting four goals and dishing out four assists in 12 games.
Parise also leads all playoff shooters with 51 shots on goal. That averages to 4.25 shots per game. During the regular season, the 27-year-old Minnesota native registered 293 shots, finishing No. 8 in the League in that statistical category. He was, however, the only player to record at least one shot in all 82 games. That's pretty good for a guy only one year removed from knee surgery that forced him to miss most of the 2010-11 season.
UNIVERSAL ISSUE: Embattled Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has to spend some of his summer pondering ways to be better in the postseason.
During the past three regular seasons, the 31-year-old goalkeeper has posted a 111-56-23 record along with a very respectable 2.41 goals-against average and a solid .918 save percentage.
However, in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games during that same span, Bryzgalov is 8-14 with an unsightly 3.62 GAA and an uninspiring .892 save percentage. Those numbers won't get you a sip out of the Cup.
Interestingly, Bryzgalov hasn't always struggled in the second season. As a younger goalie in Anaheim, he was 9-5 with three shutouts during the 2006 and '07 playoffs. Bryzgalov worked in five playoff games behind starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere when the Ducks won the Cup in '07.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: If the eighth-seeded Kings can dispose of the third-seeded Coyotes, they'll have bumped off the top three seeds in Western Conference, en route to just the franchise's second Cup final appearance -- and their first since 1993.
While that kind of run is unique for the current skaters dressed in silver and black, it isn't new for the guy in a tailored suit standing behind them.
In the spring of 2004, then-Flames head coach Darryl Sutter led his sixth-seeded team on a magical run to the Cup Final. Those Flames eliminated the third-seeded Canucks, top-seeded Red Wings and second-seeded Sharks before falling to the Lightning in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
This time, Sutter would love nothing more than to finish off that kind of spring fling with a Stanley Cup party.
NO SHORTIES: If the Coyotes want to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, they'd better be smart when they get chances on the power play.
The Kings' penalty killers have turned back 35 of 38 power-play chances (92.1 percent) in the postseason, including a perfect 17-for-17 against the Blues in the second round. Furthermore, the club's aggressive approach has netted them four shorthanded goals in nine games, which is the same number of goals produced by the Kings' power play in that span.
Dustin Brown, who has been all-everything for his team since not being shipped out of L.A. at the trade deadline, has been heavily involved in their shorthanded prowess. Brown scored two of the SHGs and assisted on the other two.
The Coyotes, who've converted five of their 31 power-play chances in 11 playoff games (16.1 percent), will have to be wise in moving the puck in man-up situations against Brown and penalty-killing cohorts. After all, SHGs can be back-breakers, particularly this time of year.
In Game 1 of the second round, Matt Greene's late second-period SHG against the Blues snapped a 1-1 tie and propelled the Kings to the series-opening victory. L.A. never trailed again in the series.