Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Erik Erlendsson at the Bolts Report:
This is also what I was able to surmise from conversations last night. Barry Melrose is not a done deal. No definitive offers have been made to anybody and the team is still talking to other candidates. And to clarify one other thing, no deal with Melrose, or anybody else for that matter, can be done anytime soon, and certainly not in the next couple of days. Oren Koules and his group were told by the executive board of the NHL the other day that the only issues that can be dealt with right now are those of a time sensitive manner. A head coach, is not a time sensitive matter. Nothing can be done until the board of governors meeting on June 17 in New York. So even if a deal was in place, it certainly couldn’t be announced.
Now my reaction to the Melrose news is the same as many of you guys. I’m not sold on a coach who has been behind a television camera the past 13 years, and not behind a bench. I also can’t believe that if this were to be true, that Melrose will command a $2 million annual salary - NHL coaches not named Scotty Bowman don’t make that kind of money.
Note: Melrose himself maintained that no deal had been reached when talking to ESPN’s SportsCenter last night.
Q. Game 4 is the swing game in any seven‑game series, and a lot of your guys admitted to being nervous before Game 1. Do you think all those nerves are gone for tonight?
SIDNEY CROSBY: Yeah, I think so. We know what we have to do. And this becomes the biggest game of the series. So probably a lot of guys are going to have a similar mind‑set to Game 3.
Q. Kind of a lighter question for you here about Colby Armstrong, who is serving as a guest analyst for us. And Colby actually predicted in Game 3 you’d have a big game and you guys would win 3‑2. Do you think he makes a perfect analyst?
Q. Would you like to get the obstruction stuff out of the way first, before I ask my…
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: (Laughter) I said what I had to say yesterday, so let’s move on (Laughter.)
Q. You said the first couple of games nervousness could have been an issue with your team. Do you sense going on in the series that’s less and less the case, and do you think that will be less the case tonight?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Absolutely. And it’s part of the process with a young team. And the more the series goes on, the more we’re going to feel comfortable and we’re going to be better.
And we got better every game. Our focus gets better every game. And tonight I’m expecting we’re going to play ‑ we played a good game, Game 3, but tonight I’m expecting we’re going to be better as well.
From Larry Wigge at NHL.com,
But the trade to Pittsburgh came as a complete surprise.
“I was actually negotiating on a new contract with Atlanta and I’d been teasing ‘Hoss’ for more than a month before the deadline about how much he was going to like going back to Ottawa or playing in Montreal,” Dupuis explained. “In the end, he got the last laugh.
“At first, I joked with reporters that I was coming along to carry Hoss’s bags. But I got the dream-of-a-lifetime job of playing on a line with Sid and Hoss.”
From Francis X. Donnelly at the Detroit News,
The Red Wings lead the Stanley Cup finals two games to one and the Pistons made the NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth straight year before bowing out Friday night in Game 6.
Success has buoyed the spirits of the staggered populace, providing a respite from the bleak economic landscape, residents and psychologists said.
“We need it,” said Pat Searles, a Warren personal trainer who was laid off by a health club six months ago. “We need something to feel good about.”
On the other hand, as CBC points out, just don’t bet on the game! Sports is an emotional roller coaster, and the playoffs can be brutal.
*An old report on NPR stressed that sports fan stress can be a heart hazard.
From Jason Kay at The Hockey News,
Besides, the NBC telecasts are excellent. I love the element Pierre McGuire provides between the benches, delivering heat-of-the moment interviews and the occasional report on trash talk.
When Tomas Holmstrom was injured late in Game 3 after being dumped by Hal Gill, McGuire told us one of the Penguins skated by the bench (Tyler Kennedy if memory serves correctly) and said in a disbelieving tone to the combative Swede, “That hurt you?”
That was followed by another Penguin telling Wings forward Kirk Maltby it was time he retired.
It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it’s the kind of inside-the-game feel you don’t get anywhere else.
From Chris Cochrane at The Chronicle Herald,
This year’s Stanley Cup final has been a good example of how well the new rules work.
No longer do veteran defencemen dominate playoff games simply by mugging opponents in front of the net. There’s also no place in this final for those defensive specialists who survived by a reliance on hooking and holding strong offensive players at both ends of the ice. The new game has evolved beyond those prodding type of players.
Star offensive players are getting more room to be star offensive players. They’re still targeted, but now it has to be by players who can keep up with them and don’t rely on obvious illegal tactics to slow them down.
From John Niyo at the Detroit News,
...afterward Maxime Talbot talked about looking into the 42-year-old Roberts’ eyes “and you’re kind of scared, you know, like, ‘Oh, my God, that guy’s intense!’ ”
“He certainly has provided a spark and some energy,” Cleary admitted. “He’s a gritty guy and he was a big influence on that winning goal. But we have guys that’ll hit and get in there and get dirty, too.”
One of those guys, Dallas Drake, was on the receiving end of a pair of Orpik’s hits in that highlight-reel shift Wednesday. Drake, though, had a shift just like it in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, and tonight he’ll undoubtedly look to introduce himself to his old friend, Mr. Roberts.
From Dave Molinari at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
“For us, basically, [Game 4] is a do-or-die game,” [Petr Sykora] said. “We know that if we can come up with a win, there is a lot of pressure on them, going into Game 5 [Monday at Joe Louis Arena].
“Basically, the whole Stanley Cup playoffs is going to [come down to] the game [tonight]. We’ve worked so hard to get to this position. This is a big chance for us, to tie it up, 2-2. You never know what’s going to happen then.”
From Sean Fine at the Globe & Mail,
What happened? Detroit is the highest expression of the game’s new ethos: puck ownership. Not long ago, the idea was to give the other team the puck deep in its zone, and then with brute force take it back. Own the ice, not the puck.
Detroit doesn’t do that. It takes the puck and keeps it. During perhaps 80 per cent of the first two games, Detroit possessed the puck. It often seemed as though Detroit had eight players on the ice, and Pittsburgh three. In those two games, Sidney Crosby was sighted with the puck on his stick for perhaps a dozen seconds — in total.
And that is why this dream matchup in the new open-ice era was so dull in the first two games: Detroit’s offence was in effect a stifling defence. “The puck-possession game is a defensive game in a sense because the other team doesn’t have the puck,” says Mr. Watt. He likens it to shooting pool: “It’s not what you make, it’s what you leave.” Detroit left nothing for Pittsburgh.
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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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