Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the NHL blog at the NY Post,
Maybe ... just maybe, the East isn’t nearly as good as the West. The best in the East has yet to mount a challenge against the Western Conference champion Red Wings. With the scene shifting to Pittsburgh, the Pens are likely hoping their 8-0 form at Mellon Arena in these playoffs is something they can parlay into a win. Else, if Detroit takes Game Three, Crosby and Co. could find themselves swept out of the playoffs by a juggernaut.
From Ben Klayman at Reuters,
However, many thought Wirtz’s coup was the late November hiring of John McDonough, president of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, to the same position with the Blackhawks.
“We need to take that beautiful arena and we need to bring back the roar and fill that building every night,” McDonough, 54, said. “Expectations are sky high.”
He moved quickly to repair relations with alienated former Blackhawks stars still beloved by fans, hiring Hall-of-Famers Hull, Mikita and Tony Esposito as ambassadors.
“It was embarrassing for a while there. Things were looking real dismal,” said former star goalie Esposito, 65, who was the face of the franchise in the 1970s. He said the club is now being run like it was in its heyday.
more… *a detailed look at the evolution of the Blackhawks franchise
As I’ve written in the past, the changes in Chicago represent one of my favorite NHL stories this season. A remarkable turnaround in effect there.
From Dan Rosen at NHL.com,
Instead of playing in Peterborough the last two seasons, [Jordan] Staal has made it big with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so big that now he’s the first teenager to play in the Stanley Cup Final since Dainius Zubrus did it as a 19-year-old with Philadelphia in 1997.
“This is what I have always dreamt about doing, so I haven’t thought about missing anything else,” Staal told NHL.com. “The only thing I would miss is the Cup if we don’t win it. There is no other place I’d rather be.”
That he’s already here is quite an amazing story.
more on the career journey of Jordan Staal
The Hockey News has been archiving audio from the winner’s dressing room after each game.
Go here to hear Scotty Bowman share his thoughts, then scroll down the page and you’ll find links to commentary from Niklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Valteri Filpulla and Johan Franzen.
On a related note, a comment from Paul that I thought I’d pass on:
After Babcock finished his post game press conference, he met with Scotty for about ten minutes, one on one, going over the game. How much of a help Bowman is to the Wings, we may never know, but it certainly cannot hurt to have Bowman use his “consultant” role to the fullest extent.
From David Staples in his Cult of Hockey blog at the Edmonton Journal,
At this point, I would place the Penguins development alongside the Oilers of 1981 or 1982.
The ‘Guins [...] are getting schooled by a superior team, as happened to the Oilers in 1981, but also humiliated by their own inconsistent, nervous, not ready for prime time effort, as happened to the Oilers against the Kings in 1982, when the “choke” [word] was uttered in Edmonton, just as it is surely now being whispered in Pittsburgh.
The next few games will tell the story for the Pens. Are they really the Oilers of 1983, just a few hard lessons away from Stanley Cup dominance? Or is this a longer road yet? My guesstimate is its the latter. They’ve still got some serious eliminating to do of players who aren’t capable enough, as well as some major maturing of those who are.
more with a breakdown of errors in the game
As mentioned yesterday, the NHL hosted a “Legends” evening on Sunday for the media, featuring Red Wings’ stars of the 1950s including Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Alex Delvecchio, Marty Pavelich and Red Kelly.
Paul Kukla attended and said it was a wonderful event, telling me “it was a great night, where hockey reporters turned into fans too.” And he wasn’t the only one who was impressed. As Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun remarked, “every now and then, Gary Bettman’s league gets something absolutely, spot-on perfect.”
Here’s a short video clip from the Canadian Press, talking to some of those Hall of Fame players on Sunday.
A nice brochure was handed out at the event “A Salute To The Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Dynasty” featuring photos of the team and individual players from those Stanley Cup years 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
A nice little collectible—so leave a note in the comments by midnight EST if you’re interested (don’t forget to provide your email address) and we’ll mail the brochure to a randomly-drawn winner.
from Matt Sober of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Yet as the faithful and newly converted alike celebrate the Penguins’ miraculous berth in the Stanley Cup Final, a few of us still don’t feel the presence of Sid in our lives.
And he has been declared the savior, has he not?
It’s not so much that I don’t like the Penguins as I have never had much interest in hockey, which continues to feel a lot like watching pinball for two-and-a-half hours. Or at least pinball with the occasional bloody nose.
But the Penguins? Well, with the possible exception of Jarkko Ruutu, they all seem likable enough.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The big difference between these teams is defence. Where the Red Wings’ big four of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart got the puck moving quickly out of their own zone in the face of an improved fore-checking effort from the Penguins last night, Pittsburgh’s Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik once again could not do likewise when the Red Wings stormed the Penguins’ zone.
Last week we put up a last minute contest for THREE gift certificates of $50 (for IceJerseys.com or shop.NHL.com) to be given away in a random draw. To enter the contest, some KK members were brave enough to share their favorite—and/or weirdest—hockey superstitions and rituals. Quite entertaining.
Winners will be contacted by email within 48 hours. They are:
- hippy dave
Thank you to everyone for participating—the entries were great and it was good to be reminded there are other people are as nuts as we are.
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Who would have thought that after rolling through the first three rounds with a 12-2 record, the Penguins would look so utterly feeble in the final?
The reasons are many.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been ordinary, at best. The Penguins’ other stars, Hossa and Sidney Crosby, are barely noticeable, though Crosby had six shots last night and is facing the best defenseman in the world, Nicklas Lidstrom, on most shifts. Their role players are doing nothing compared to Detroit’s.
And, oh yes, the Red Wings are pretty good.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com