Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Craig Custance at AJC,
As the Thrashers players filed out of a quiet visitors locker room, one of their owners stood outside sharing in the disappointment.
The Thrashers lost 4-2 to the New York Rangers Wednesday in front of a loud sellout Madison Square Garden crowd. The loss was the final in a 4-0 sweep in the franchise’s first playoff series.
“I’m just trying to remember the good times,” Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson said.
For these Thrashers, the positive memories in a year of firsts — a playoff berth and a division title — were now being threatened by new memories.
Like a packed arena chanting, “Sweep! Sweep!” in the final moments of the Rangers win.
Or Sean Avery driving nearly every Thrashers player crazy with his constant yapping and physical play. He also did a little scoring, once again assisting on a Brendan Shanahan goal that tied the game 2-2.
Or having to answer the same postgame question — What went wrong?
continued… (*requires free registration)
Note: Over at AtlantaThrashers.com, you can find a fan appreciation video.
From John Glennon at the Tennessean,
The Predators managed to thwart the normally potent San Jose power play yet again on Wednesday, holding the Sharks without a goal on five power-play chances.
But Nashville players and Coach Barry Trotz are starting to scratch over at least some of the calls that are sending the Predators to the box on a regular basis in this series.
Center Jason Arnott was particularly irritated by a somewhat mysterious hooking call on Jordin Tootoo in the second period. It appeared Tootoo had been impeded by Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo, but Tootoo wound up going to the penalty box.
Plus: A photogallery of the Shark/Preds series
The Globe & Mail has a short slide-show of photography from Wednesday night’s playoff action:
From Helene St. James at Detroit Free Press,
As the Red Wings prepared to play tonight’s Game 4 of their first-round series with the Flames, establishing success on special teams was at the forefront.
While the power-play struggles can hardly be surprising giving its ineffectiveness throughout the regular season, the penalty killing’s vulnerability has been far more noticeable. The Wings have allowed four power-play goals in three games, and their 75% success rate ranks 14th among the 16 NHL playoff teams.
Plus: St. James questions if Bertuzzi could boost the Wings’ 2nd line.
From NY Daily News,
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try again.
Expectations are growing. Despite all these years of mockery, James Dolan had rightfully earned this small victory over a flawed opponent wearing earth-tone uniforms.
Dolan had stuck with his guy, Glen Sather, who had been losing for what seemed like forever. And after all the lousy seasons and flimsy alibis, both men had discovered the right formula - a calm, savvy coach, a hot goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist and a hybrid roster of grizzled veterans and young legs.
From Tim Graham of The Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres posted the NHL’s best regular-season record with speed, skill and depth.
Co-captain Daniel Briere mentioned another element the Sabres have been able to feed off: contempt.
Briere noted a healthy disdain for the New York Islanders has contributed to their 3-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“I think the first couple games there wasn’t enough emotion. There was no hate out there,” Briere said after he drew an aggressive penalty that led to Chris Drury’s winning goal in a 4-2 Game Four victory Wednesday night in Nassau Coliseum. “I think slowly we’re starting to see guys hate each other. We’re getting sick of playing against the same guys over and over.
From Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
There’s still time.
Still time, that is, for a truly boffo series to emerge from the first round of the Stanley Cup playdowns.
Of course, we’re assured on a nightly basis that every shift of every period of every game of every series is breathtaking, groundbreaking stuff, and anybody who doesn’t absolutely adore every second of it just doesn’t love the game.
Well, let’s dare to disagree.
From Nova News Now,
By the time you read this, the Stanley Cup playoffs will be well-underway. There might even be one or two teams already eliminated.
However, don’t ask me to predict who they might be. This year’s cup chase is the most wide-open in years.
I’m a traditionalist in many ways but, in terms of the NHL, I like that there are easily five or six teams that could easily go all the way - and, with a little luck, maybe even more than that.
It’s a change - a breath of fresh air, even - from some seasons in the past, when the cup winner could almost have been mailed the trophy.
There was a run of years back 10 years or more when the Stanley Cup final was decided in four straight games for probably three years in a row. I, for one, would far sooner see a little more excitement; this year, we just might get it.
Reported on TSN,
Doug MacLean has been fired as general manager and president of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sources tell TSN MacLean was told tonight in an ownership meeting.
The Blue Jackets struggled to a 33-42-7 record this season, finishing a distant 11th in the Western Conference.
continued… (*more details to follow at that link)
Updated 12:20am ET:
From the Columbus Dispatch,
Last spring, MacLean signed a three-year contract with the Blue Jackets that paid him an $800,000 base salary. With incentives, MacLean made about $1 million per season.
By firing him now, the club must pay MacLean a large buyout sum, believed to be $1.6 million, or his remaining base salary.
continued… (Geez, if only we could all get fired in such fashion.)
From AP via MSNBC,
The Vancouver Canucks know firsthand just how precarious their lead over the Dallas Stars might be.
In NHL playoff history, 210 teams have gone up 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. Only 20 of those teams have gone on to lose the series. Vancouver has been involved in four of those series, including twice in 2003, when they overcame flu-ridden St. Louis in the first round, then blew the big lead against Minnesota.
The Canucks know not to do any premature planning for the second round as their Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Stars shifts back to Vancouver for Game 5 Thursday night.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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