Bulls

Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

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Carter's strange journey puts him on Game 2 throne

NEWARK, N.J. Every life has its strange, tumultuous twists. Jeff Carters had plenty of his own in just one year, one in which he went from Philadelphia to Columbus to Los Angeles.

So when the good moments come, theyre savored. And after scoring one of the biggest goals of his career on Saturday night, Carter gets the chance to do that now.

Carter scored his first career overtime playoff goal as the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings take a 2-0 lead in the series and have now won 10 straight road playoff games. Theyve won 12 in a row dating back to last postseason.

For Carter, it was especially sweet. A year of tumult and team moves landed him in Los Angeles, where he could get a fresh start and the Kings could get an offensive boost. Its worked out for both, and Carter came through with a big one on Saturday night.

You just want to put it on net as much as you can. (Dustin Penner) did a great job to get in front of Marty (Brodeur). I dont know if he saw the shot, Carter said. Its a pretty special moment. Obviously any time you play in the finals its exciting. But scoring an overtime goal to get up 2-0 is pretty special.

Drew Doughty put the Kings up in the first period, darting through the Devils on a move that was highlight-reel worthy. But Ryan Carter redirected a Marek Zidlicky shot to tie in the third period, setting up overtime. The Kings outshot the Devils 11-3 in the extra frame. On the game-winner, Carter came from behind the net and circled wide as the Devils converged down in front. It looked like Carter was going to pass it off at first but instead took the shot, which beat Brodeur low, stick side.

Our defensemen were open, too. But you could tell he wanted to shoot that, and hes got a great shot. Beauty shot, low blocker and found a hole, Jarret Stoll said. Hes been in the media a lot, lot of story lines, but hes been a great addition to our team. Hes solidified our lineup and made us a lot better. Thats a big goal, a huge goal for him.

Carter now has 10 points this postseason.

That was a huge effort on that goal, defenseman Matt Greene said. Its good to get a guy like him going. He scores in bunches. Hopefully he gets hot and we ride him a little bit.

Carter has found a good niche with the Kings. He scored, arguably, the biggest goal of his career on Saturday night. And hes gotten the Kings that much closer to their ultimate goal.

I think this is by far the biggest for sure, Carter said of his goal. Its a huge one, a big one for the team. We get this to where we wanted it to be.

27 Days to Opening Night: Lauri Markkanen's best rookie Game Score

27 Days to Opening Night: Lauri Markkanen's best rookie Game Score

The performance matched the venue.

Lauri Markkanen made quite the impression in his first game at Madison Square Garden, tallying 33 points (a career-best), 10 rebounds, eight 3-pointers and a pair of steals.

Markkanen made 10 of 22 from the field and went 8-for-15 from beyond the arc. He also made all five of his free throws and threw a hammer down on Enes Kanter.

It was arguably his best game of the year, and Basketball Reference’s Game Score agreed. We’ll safely assume he tops that at some time this season.

Previous Countdown to Opening Night posts:

38. Bobby Portis' career-high in points

37. Michael Jordan's career-best PPG in 1987

36. Lauri Markkanen's 3-point FG% as a rookie

35. Michael Jordan's PPG in 1988, his first MVP season

34. Wendell Carter

33. Scottie Pippen

32. Kris Dunn

31. Michael Jordan's 50-point games

30. Michael Jordan's career scoring average

29. Teams afraid of Zach LaVine putting them on a poster

28. Bulls' over-under win total in Las Vegas

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

That was quick. 

Hours after we wrote how Adam Boqvist has been flying under the radar this training camp because his NHL timeline could still be 2-3 years away — something even he admitted after the Blackhawks drafted him No. 8 overall in June — he put on a strong showing in his second preseason game on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings playing on the top pairing and leading the team in ice time (22:15). 

His offensive skill is evident. So is his general skating ability. What really stood out was how he defended, particularly a 1-on-1 rush against the speedy Andreas Athanasiou.

This is the play that got Blackhawks fans excited. This is a player who has the ability to speed up his timeline if he takes advantage of this next year of development, which won’t begin in London on Friday after coach Joel Quenneville told reporters following Thursday’s contest that his debut with the Knights in the OHL is being put on hold because they want a longer look at him.

In fact, Quenneville didn’t rule out the possibility of Boqvist making the Blackhawks straight out of camp.

"I think as we've gone through camp and see him play through the games, we're watching him," Quenneville said. "We've been pleased with him. It's almost like, when you come to camp, we want to watch these guys. They make those decisions for us with how they play and it's been a positive one."

But that doesn’t mean he’d necessarily stick around for the full season.

Because he’s 18 years of age, Boqvist is eligible to play in up to nine games before getting sent to his respective junior team without burning the first year of his entry-level deal. He’s a slide candidate next year as well. It’s what the Blackhawks did with Ryan Hartman, who appeared in five games in 2014-15 and three games in 2015-16 before securing a full-time spot in 2016-17. That's the likely scenario if it were to reach that point.

It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks breaking in each of their top-two defensive prospects in Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist at the same time. And for Boqvist, you certainly don't want to waste any years of his entry-level contract when he could be using that time to truly develop so he could hit the ground running when he does enter the league on a full-time basis.

Perhaps the back injury to Connor Murphy, who is expected to be out until December, allowed the Blackhawks to view Boqvist's situation in a wider lense. Or maybe this was the plan all along.

Regardless, the Blackhawks may get a glimpse of the future quicker than they thought and it’s added a little excitement to training camp and the anticipation of Opening Day.