Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
They can’t stop these guys.
The New York Rangers, who closed out Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who survived Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, have a problem on their hands. They’ve yet to slow the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.
Hey, join the club.
It was Kucherov who finished it Wednesday night in Game 3 at Amalie Arena — saving all by snapping a wicked wrist shot past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist early in overtime for a 6-5 win and a 2-1 series lead.
It could just as easily have been Johnson or Palat. They’re the best scoring line and story line of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But it was Kucherov, finding a sliver of space and beating Lundqvist, just as he beat Carey Price in Game 1 at Montreal.
“Kuch is one of those guys who, when you think he literally has nothing, he just kind of whips up something and makes something out of it,” Johnson said.
Watch Kucherov's game winning goal in OT below...
from Toronto Sports Media,
So, as we like to do when there is news, here’s what’s been written so far:
First from Toronto:
Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun doesn’t want the parade route planned yet: “There’s an old saying in horse racing: You can have the best trainer in the world, but without the horses, you’ve got nothing. Which is basically the situation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Steve Simmons finds the positive at least for the moment: “And for at least one day, one moment, everything seemed right with the rather uneven, historically dysfunctional Maple Leafs. Never mind the reality of their roster, or the fact the Leafs don’t have a general manager or a front-line centre. They have a coach. Richest one in the business. And darn, if that doesn’t taste like ice cream on a hot summer’s night.”
Bruce Arthur has a lengthy take on the new coach: There will be strains and tension, because Babcock is a furious competitor, and cannot love the idea of rebuilding; he’s 52 and wants to win more Stanley Cups. When asked if going to Toronto fit Babcock’s stated criteria for winning, Holland said, “That’s a question for Mike.””
Rosie lives up to her reputation with her take: “Social media — which I detest and which reflects nothing of import — was divided on Wednesday between over-the-moon and big deal, doesn’t change the dreadful on-ice equation one iota. Perhaps we’ve just forgotten how to feel good about anything. Nothing grand ever happens here. The sports gods don’t like us, grumble-grumble-grumble.
Be not so cynical. Mike Babcock is a game-changer. Losing will not rest easily on his shoulders. And though unquestionably there will be much losing to come, he will not allow it to rest easily on the shoulders of his players either.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
So there sat Lundqvist, a King with a crown tarnished by an ultra-talented group that seems to have his number … or numbers, as in a 4.75 GAA and .840 save pct. in six meetings this season covering the regular season and this round.
There he sat alone until general manager Glen Sather entered the room, walked to his franchise player’s stall, and offered quiet, private words of love and encouragement.
Lundqvist will need much more than those words as he seeks to find answers between now and Friday’s Game 4, for when he met the press a few minutes after Sather had left the room, it was clear that the goaltender had been shaken out of the Conn Smythe-worthy comfort zone in which he had been living until the Lightning became his — and his team’s — worst nightmare.
“For some reason I didn’t really pick it up,” the beleaguered goaltender said of the winner on which Palat cut across the zone from the right before unleashing the drive that beat him to the far, stick side. “I’m going to have to look at the video to see why.
“It’s really challenging for me, the way they move the puck and find open ice for the shot, the way they get scoring chances from right in front,” said Lundqvist, who had blundered by directing a soft initial shot onto Steven Stamkos’ stick for the Lightning’s first goal. “They’re good, but I need to be more consistent with my game plan.”
Watch the game highlights below....
Don Cherry conducted his usual "Coach's Corner" during Wednesday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, and he's changed his tune about Mike Babcock:
Puck drops sometime after 8:00pm ET and the game is on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
Series tied at one, first game in Tampa.
Should be an exciting one and feel free to discuss the game tonight or anything hockey related.
Coaching the Leafs will require an inordinate amount of patience, until the player talent matches the organization’s Stanley Cup ambitions. This then will be the ultimate test for Babcock who, 13 years and 950 games into his NHL coaching career, has never quite faced the challenge that Toronto will pose. There are not many coaches more competitive than Babcock. How he handles the challenge of those early dark days will be a sight to behold.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail on Mike Babcock in Toronto. Read more on this topic.
(May 20, 2015) – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has named Martin Brodeur Assistant General Manager. The Blues and Brodeur have agreed on a three-year contract.
Brodeur, 43, originally joined the Blues as a free agent on Dec. 2, 2014. After a seven-game stint with the club, during which he posted a 3-3-0 record, Brodeur announced his retirement from the NHL on Jan. 29 and moved into the Blues’ front office as a Senior Advisor to the General Manager.
from Mike Shackil,
The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are in full swing and teams are going full tilt for the illustrious Stanley Cup trophy. While the joy of winning the Cup will prove immeasurable for the championship organization, capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP can lead to a windfall off the ice for a player.
from Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News,
This was a crushing blow for Pegula and Co. I'm not going to be phony about it. I was prepared with a column that said Babcock would be huge get for the Sabres and the city, further evidence that Pegula was making Western New York a destination for free agents.
Coming on the heels of the Rex Ryan hire, landing Babcock would have given Pegula the top two coaching free agents in the NFL and NHL. You could have argued that little Buffalo possessed the most dynamic head coaching tandem of any American professional sports city.
This shows that Pegula's money can't buy everything (including a quarterback). I haven't heard the financial details. Maybe the Maple Leafs didn't have to outbid Pegula to get their man. But it certainly looks as though Babcock didn't find the Sabres' situation quite so enticing as Buffalo fans had assumed.
Reports had Babcock turning away from the Maple Leafs as recently as Tuesday. The prevailing wisdom said they were too far away from being a true Stanley Cup contender. They didn't have enough promising young centers, or top players in the pipeline of any sort. They don't even have a general manager in place.
Some felt Babcock would be committing career suicide by going to Toronto, where he would join the long list of coaches and executives who couldn't turn the Laffs around and wound up getting skewered by the media.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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