Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the CP via TSN,
Dominant in the regular season, superb again in the post-season, the Detroit Red Wings are headed back to the Stanley Cup final.
With gusto, too.
Just when the Red Wings lost consecutive games and were starting to look vulnerable, they bounced back strong in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, getting first-period goals from Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk and Dallas Drake on their way to knocking out the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday night.
Game highlights added 11:47pm
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
There is a running joke inside the Pittsburgh Penguins dressing room that goes something like this: As long as Sidney Crosby captains the team, there can be no such thing as an optional practice.
Sure, the coach will write “Optional” on the white board now and again. But when your captain, leader and best player laces up his skates for an optional practice - something Crosby does every single time - there is no way that a lesser player cannot follow and still look his teammates in the eye.
Now, look at how these Penguins have gone in one year from first-round fodder to a berth in the Stanley Cup final.
via the Dallas Stars Blog,
“... if you score first, you’re in the lead, you control match-ups better more often because the other coach is trying to get his offense out there,” Babcock said. “Often what happens in games where you’re behind, you don’t play as many people. You got to play the guys who can score.”
from Al Strachan at Fox Sports,
If you look at the Stanley Cup playoffs over the years, especially in the modern era, a clear trend emerges. Teams that can get themselves at least one short series along the way are much more likely to hoist the Cup than a team that had to battle hard all along the way.
Similarly, that’s why the fourth and fifth holes are so dreaded. For those teams, every round is a tough one and less likely to produce a short series. Under the current format, no fourth-seeded team has managed to win the Cup.
So the Red Wings did themselves no favors by failing to put away the Stars after going up 3-0 in the conference final. In fact, most hockey observers felt that one of the reasons the Wings were able to open that lead was the fact that the Stars exhibited a similar failing in the previous round.
From Stu Hackel at the NYT blog Slapshot,
We’ve all heard this kind of talk, and some people believe it — the notion that the NHL prefers a certain outcome and encourages on-ice officials to act accordingly.
It seems to us there is more loose talk about the NHL preferring certain teams over others than you hear attached to other major leagues. Since hockey trails other major sports in popularity by a good distance, those who whisper or shout such allegations do nothing to help hockey’s quest for respect.
The media plays a role in this and, no doubt, refuels fans when they do. A few weeks ago a Philadelphia columnist claimed the officials favored Montreal, that the NHL wanted the Canadiens to beat the Flyers since “Canada looks out for its own.” A couple of weeks later, after the Flyers won the series, he recanted citing the emotions generated by the playoffs for his distortion.
much more… on the debate surrounding the league’s integrity vs some people’s paranoia
Shelly Anderson, Pens beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an online chat today…
CupHolder92: I keep hearing that the Western Division plays a different style of hockey, but after watching a few playoff games it seems pretty similar to the East. Maybe a little more wide open, but not by much. Is there something I am missing? How do you think the Pens style meshes with the West style?
Shelly Anderson: First, you would have to define the Penguins’ style, and that’s not a simple thing. Their game is both defensively sound and, because of their speed, high-voltage on offense. Detroit has similar attributes. Both teams can win playing different styles. So there’s probably not a big difference based on which conference they play in. Not too many years ago, the East was considered more defense- and trap-oriented (New Jersey had a lot to do with that) while the West was more wide open, but since the lockout with the new rules and rules interpretations, things have evened out across the NHL.
from Lyle Richardson at the Hockey News,
GM Doug Wilson is expected to make a strong effort to retain defenseman Brian Campbell, who Wilson acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. But that could prove expensive as Campbell could command up to $7 million per season in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.
Persistent rumors of Wilson trading Patrick Marleau have predictably flared up again, but unlike this time last year they won’t be dragging on for an entire season.
Marleau’s new two-year, $12. 6 million contract – with a no-trade clause – kicks in on July 1, so if Wilson is in fact shopping his long-time captain he has a limited window to pull off the deal.
more rumor talk…
Montreal’s new soccer stadium was the site of an all-star soccer game Sunday that featured goals by one of the top players in the National Hockey League.
Alexei Kovalev, right winger for the Montreal Canadiens, demonstrated his moonwalk after scoring two goals.
Kovalev said he plays soccer three months of the year when he’s not playing hockey.
And Puck Daddy has some more, including video of Kovalev’s Michael-Jackson-ification.
Some questions for Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock:
Q. I’m not sure how willing you are to divulge military secrets, but any chance you might split up Datsyuk and Zetterberg at times in the game?
Some questions for Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett this morning.
Q. Where did you get the idea or what did you see in Toby Petersen that made you think this would be a good matchup for him?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Probably the speed element. I mean, there’s a couple things. He’s got very good hockey sense and the speed element was something we felt we were lacking. He’s a player that plays fast. He makes solid plays. He’s not spectacular from any stretch of the imagination, but is a very conscious player on both sides of the puck.
We were down 3-0. We had to find something to give us a little spark, and he’s been one of those guys.
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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