Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times,
Hossa will be a question mark whenever Pittsburgh’s season ends. The Penguins have other unrestricted free agents to consider re-signing, including defenseman Brooks Orpik and forward Ryan Malone. They also have to ensure they have future cap room to keep their young players. Malkin will be due for a new contract — presumably a long and large one — after next season.
If the Penguins do not have enough money to offer Hossa, who is making $7 million this season, the Rangers may be in the bidding for him. He is a strong two-way player and seems to be the kind of finisher the Rangers could use on a line with center Scott Gomez.
If the Rangers keep him from returning to Pittsburgh, they would take a chunk out of the lineup of a division rival, one that looks as if it will be formidable for years to come.
From David Yasvinski at the National Post,
Sunday’s game was the longest since the Vancouver Canucks beat the Stars 5-4 at the 78:06 mark of overtime on April 12, 2007, but it was well short of the almost two hours of extra time Detroit needed to beat Montreal 1-0 on March 24, 1936.
A look at the 10 longest overtime games in NHL history:
Scott Burnside of ESPN breaks down both the East and the West Conference Finals…
The Flyers, who won five of eight matchups against Pittsburgh during the regular season, will try to establish a physical tone with the skilled Penguins, who have shown a surprising level of grit of their own. Both teams have displayed timely, balanced scoring, superb defensive play and stellar goaltending. Oh, and did we mention they can’t stand each other? Stay tuned.
The Detroit Red Wings, meanwhile, struggled midway through their opening-round series against Nashville but took advantage of woeful netminding by Jose Theodore and cruised to a four-game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche in the West semis. The Stars, who have terrific depth down the middle, now have an identity they lacked the past three or four postseasons. Marty Turco, fresh off a 61-save effort, will represent a much sterner test than the Avs, or he should.
Still, the Red Wings seem to be firing on all cylinders and will be very difficult to knock out.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
The first two rounds have attracted a total of 1,268,281 fans, compared to 1,195,387 through the first two rounds last spring and 1,205,415 through the first two rounds in 2006.
And when you take into account ticket prices for the playoffs have risen each year, that’s a tidy chunk of change for the partners to split up each season.
What’s even more encouraging for everyone involved is that through the first two rounds, league wide, there have been an average of 261 more fans per game than there were last season.
So what does it all mean? Well, there were 72,894 more fans through the turnstiles in the first two rounds this season than last. At an average price of about $150 a ticket in the post-season, that’s in excess of $10.9 million more in revenues without even taking into account the increase in ticket prices from last year, or all the extra concessions they sold at the American Airlines Center in Sunday night’s marathon.
Geez, ESPN, why don’t you just come out and say you don’t like long overtimes.
But can there be such a thing as too much overtime, SportsNation? Sure, it’s amazing that the Stars and Sharks went to four overtimes before a winner emerged, but did you stick around to watch the end? And is it fair to have such critical games determined by sudden-death?
Looks like true hockey fans are responding too…
Here are the final confirmed times and dates of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Below, a couple updated brackets people might find useful.
From Jamie Samuelsen at the Detroit Free Press,
The Red Wings are halfway to a Stanley Cup. While there are many candidates, who’s your Red Wings playoff MVP?
Ken Holland. Seriously, before we get to the question, let’s give the Wings GM a little round of applause here. Talk about Mission: Impossible.
Ken, here’s your job. Take a team full of veterans and full of huge salaries and pare it down to fit in the new financial limitations of the NHL. And while you’re doing this, we’d really appreciate it if you could still contend for Stanley Cups and develop world class stars that the fans can root for. No pressure or anything. Thanks Kenny. Good luck. I’m sure all championships are satisfying and if the Wings win, Holland would say that this ranks right up there with the other rings. But down deep, I’ll bet you that this one will be a little more special. 1997 was great and 1998 was emotional because of the limousine accident. But Holland would have to, in an honest moment, tell himself that this was his best work.
from Al Strachan at Fox Sports,
Now that the San Jose Sharks are gone, you can be sure of one thing. Coach Ron Wilson won’t be far behind.
Wilson had been hanging by a hair all season long, even though to the casual viewer, the Sharks appeared to be forging a first-rate season.
In fact, Wilson barely made it back after last year’s postseason collapse (hey, in San Jose, anything short of a Stanley Cup is seen as a collapse.)
On its heels, the Sharks held one of the longest exit interviews in the history of hockey, and every player was required to give full and frank views of the team, its future, and its coach. The coach didn’t fare very well.
The Conference Finals Previews from The Hockey News:
What’s old is new again in the West with two perennial superpowers butting heads, while in the East two young teams that both spent time in the NHL’s basement are rising to the challenge of establishing themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
It’s amazing that since the 1996-97 season the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings won four Stanley Cups between them, but only faced off against each other once, when 10 years ago the Wings downed the Stars 4-2 in the Western final.
Meanwhile, the Eastern final has become the battle of Pennsylvania, where the gradually maturing and shifty young Penguin stars will battle the sudden revival of the big, bad, banging Flyers.
However the series play out, the Stanley Cup final will be the showdown of old and new, experience and youth, persistence and patience.
from Damien Cox at his Spin Blog at the Toronto Star,
The teams remaining are all among the top U.S. television markets, and they are all pretty strong cities for hockey as well, or at least cities with long traditions in the game.
Philadelphia represents the fourth largest TV viewing area in the U.S., followed by Dallas (No. 5), Detroit (No. 11) and Pittsburgh (No. 22).
Of those four, obviously the Penguins would be the ideal finalist, for that team features the league’s No. 1 individual marketing tool in Sidney Crosby. The league’s determination to keep that franchise in Pittsburgh, with a new arena coming on stream, has certainly paid off.
A Penguin-Red Wings final would be glamourous, a chance for a boffo conclusion to the season. The least glamorous matchup would be Dallas-Philly, but even that would deliver two major TV markets for the NHL.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org