Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
The reality is that Buffalo is all but finished, headed home with barely a whimper. How else can you explain a team that looks discombobulated if not disinterested? You’ll hear all the right things from both teams, how the Sabres never quit, how they’re going to keep coming. In this series, their reputation has been a myth.
If you’re searching for answers, look no further than the only goal the Ottawa Senators needed to beat the Sabres in Game Three on Monday night. It pretty much exemplifies what’s wrong with a hesitant Buffalo group against an unwavering, confident Ottawa team that knows the Stanley Cup is no longer a fantasy.
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
But the question that needs to be asked in a hurry is, what ever became of the Buffalo Sabres?
With a power play that would shoot blanks if it shot at all, and a President’s Trophy winning roster that looks intimidated against the hard-charging Senators, the Buffalo Sabres took one more step toward extinction last night at Scotiabank Place, losing 1-0 to fall behind three games to none in what was once a highly anticipated Eastern Conference Final.
Talk about anticlimactic. The scoreboard may have read 1-0, with Daniel Alfredsson’s second period goal standing up. In reality, however, Game 3 was a blow-out, disguised only by the spectacular play of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
from Red Wings Corner,
Forgive me, for I am a stranger in a strange land. But in Orange County I’m not seeing the signs of hockey culture. (An oxymoron, I know.)
I have not seen any kids play hockey on a driveway or move nets to the curb when someone shouts, “Car!” I have not heard any locals dissect the local NHL team. And I do not see anyone outside of the Ducks’ arena wear anything with the word Ducks, colors of the Ducks or anything resembling a cartoon Duck not named Daffy in these parts.
So forgive me if it surprises me that this is the place from which Detroit was attacked as not being the hockey town that it once was.
One day before the start of the Western Conference final between the Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings the Los Angeles Times printed a column by Helene Elliott that assailed Detroit as having lost its status as Hockeytown because the Red Wings have not been able to sell out a single playoff game this spring.
Let’s get the terminology straight first. There’s a difference between the upper-case Hockeytown and a lower-case hockey town.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So far, Alfredsson has an NHL-best nine goals in 13 playoff games, has scored in all three games in this series and in six of his last seven post-season matches.
Not bad for a former sixth-round draft pick.
Not bad for a player roundly vilified for his weak defensive play against these same Sabres on the goal that eliminated the Senators from last spring’s playdowns.
“I’m a better player this year,” he said flatly when asked about the difference in his 2007 springtime performance compared to last year.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
“Dom’s different. I talked to Ritch Winter (Hasek’s agent) and he said Dom wants to finish his career on the ice,” Holland said. “That was really important to him, finishing on his terms.”
The terms in this series have confounded the opposition Ducks. They have outplayed and out-chanced the Wings through the first two games in Detroit but have shot wide or high often on quality scoring opportunities, the ones Hasek hasn’t stopped.
“That’s what Dom does to people,” said Chris Chelios, another Red Wing veteran playing on the cheap. “He intimidates the other team. He gets in their head. Then they starting thinking they have to be perfect. Once he gets them thinking, he’s got them.”
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
They are on the verge of living the dream and going to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in team history with a series victory over the Buffalo Sabres and holding a 2-0 lead in the East final going into Game 3 last night at Scotiabank Place.
“They’ve had to go through some tough times along the way and I’m sure that’s toughened them up a little,” said former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who as GM led Canada to a gold medal at the world championship in Moscow. “There’s no question that can happen to you. Sometimes you have to go through tough times before you can have success. You develop more of an edge and you get stronger. Every team goes through it and it takes hard to work to get out of it.”
from the Press Enterprise,
Unlike the regular season, which gives teams five minutes of ice time to settle a tie before going to the one-on-one shootout, postseason hockey eschews the gimmicky ending.
First team to score, unlimited time to finish, makes for passionate competition. Players can’t take a second off. Spectators hang in suspended angst.
In baseball, you’ve got at least 15 seconds between pitches to anticipate a game-ending hit, and maybe 15 minutes if a rally is building and pitchers are being shuffled in and out.
In football, you start anticipating an overtime outcome with the coin-flip winner. The team that gets the ball first often drives for 10 minutes and boots a three-pointer.
Hockey? Possession changes every few seconds. Every shot stops the breath of 18,000 spectators.
from The Maven,
• Chris Pronger has a legit gripe that J.S. Giguere gets the short end of the publicity stick compared to Eastern goaltenders. “East coast writers only want to talk about us (Ducks) when we’re playing in the East,” says the ace defenseman. “Dominik Hasek gets a lot of press because he plays in Detroit.”
• Not enough credit has gone to Bill Wirtz and Windsor attorney Patrick Ducharme for the behind-the-scenes work that helped expose union mismanagement, especially as it related to funds owed such players as Bob Probert, Denis Savard and Jeremy Roenick. Persistent queries on behalf of Ducharme’s clients to Saskin received nebulous answers. Nonetheless, Ducharme and Wirtz persisted when others would have thrown up their hands in frustration.
Ray Emery shuts down the Sabres tonight, 1-0.
Watch the post game interviews.
note 9:39pm: Video should be available shortly.
Q. Talk about the struggles five-on-five? Is it what they’re doing?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: No. They’ve been good. I think you always got to give the other team credit. We’re good teams. Our power play and penalty kill has been good. Dom has been good. We haven’t been very good five-on-five. They’ve been better than us in that area. Yet in saying that, I think for the first 25 minutes of the game last night, they were better than us. Then I thought for the next 35, everything was pretty even. I thought they were better than us again in overtime.
When you’re playing good teams, there’s always going to be momentum swings in the game. You just want yours to be longer than theirs. I didn’t like our start last night. For whatever reason, they were able to establish a physical game early. We didn’t engage right I way. It took us a long time, I thought, to engage physically in the game and get involved.
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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