Preps Talk

Jeremy Roenick chooses his top Conn Smythe candidates

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Jeremy Roenick chooses his top Conn Smythe candidates

NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick is taking an early stab at choosing his top Conn Smythe candidates from the four remaining playoff teams.

Here's a look at JR's choices:

Coyotes: Mike Smith
Kings: Jonathan Quick (or Dustin Brown)
Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist
Devils: Ilya Kovalchuk (or Zach Parise)

Mike Smith is clearly the top choice in Phoenix, but the goaltender will have to get back on track against the Kings to look Trophy worthy. You have to give him credit, Smith shined in the first two rounds of the playoffs and became a well-known name around the league. He's maintained a .943 save percentage and has recorded two shutouts since the end of the regular season--one against the Blackhawks and another against the Devils.

Deciding between Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick isn't easy. The Kings' captain has recorded seven goals and seven assists in 11 games, two of them short-handed. On top of that, he's maintained a level of physicality on the ice that isn't comparable to anything else we've seen in the postseason. His ability to deliver and absorb hits without hindering his performance has skyrocketed the Kings to a phenomenal 10-1 playoff record.

But when analyzing the Kings, you have to remember that Jonathan Quick is the reason Los Angeles made it to the playoffs in the first place. The Kings were the worst offensive team in the league for a good portion of the season, and they went through a frustratingly-long rough patch of not being able to score more than two goals per game. Quick's outstanding on-ice performance has only gotten stronger during the playoffs. His .951 postseason save percentage and two shutouts have helped make the Kings unstoppable and is the reason Roenick has chosen him as his top pick. Quick's also a candidate for the Vezina Trophy.

Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding for the Rangers. Despite New York's scoring struggles from time to time, they managed to hold on to the top seed in the east. Roenick points out that Lundqvist has been the most consistent goalie since October, and his .930 regular season save percentage backs that statement. If the Rangers and Kings were to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, the goalie battle would keep any hockey fan at the edge of their seat. He is also a candidate for the Vezina Trophy (Pekka Rinne is the third goalie battling for the honor).

When looking at the Devils, Roenick believes Ilya Kovalchuk is the better choice over Zach Parise. Kovalchuk has transformed into more of a team player and has produced six goals and seven assists in 13 playoff games. But it's important to note that Parise has always shown his dedication to the sport at to his team, pushing the Devils to constantly improve. He's recorded four goals and five assists in the postseason.

If a winner were chosen today, who would you pick as your favorite candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy?

High School Lites Football Semifinals Roundup

High School Lites Football Semifinals Roundup

High School Lites has plenty of great IHSA football playoff action from the semifinals on Saturday as NBC Sports Chicago has highlights of many of the area's top matchups. 

Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights. 

DRIVE: Prairie RidgeEpisode 14

This Week's Scores

Class 8A

Loyola Academy 17, Edwardsville 10

Class 7A

Lake Zurich 14, Mount Carmel 7

Batavia 23, Benet Academy 13

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge 42, Hoffman Estates 21

Nazareth Academy 24, Providence Catholic 7

Class 5A

Phillips 27, Sterling 14

Dunlap 21, Washington 0

Class 4A

Morris 43, Raby 8

Class 3A

IC Catholic 7, Byron 0

Pleasant Plains 41, Anna-Jonesboro 2

Class 2A

Gibson City 14, Newman Central Catholic 8

Maroa-Forsyth 25, Shelbyville 14

Class 1A

Tuscola 21, Athens 14

Lena-Winslow 12, Forreston 8

 

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.