Kukla's Korner Hockey
Eric Duhatschek did a Q & A with Globe and Mail readers yesterday and is suggested reading for all…
Brier Bear from Canada writes: There’s usually an upset in the first round. Do you see any of underdogs this year making it to the second round? Boston over Montreal perhaps?
Eric Duhatschek: I don’t see Boston over Montreal; when it comes to underdogs, I’m picking the six seeds over the threes in both conferences. In fact, I really like Colorado as my sleeper team in the West. Minnesota is going to have to play without Nick Schultz, one half of their shutdown defence pair, after he underwent an emergency appendectomy Monday….
In the East, I see the Capitals a little like the Penguins of last season, a team that made great regular-season strides, and were captivated fans around the league that probably couldn’t have named five players on their roster two months ago. The problem, when you go on a run like that is that sooner or later, you need to exhale — you go flat, you go a little stale.
from the LA Times,
The Detroit Red Wings, who had the league’s best record during the regular season, are the consensus favorites at 3-1, followed by the San Jose Sharks, who are listed at 9-2, according to Bodoglife.com.
Then comes the Ducks, who are grouped with the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins on most sportsbooks with odds ranging from 6-1 to 10-1.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
The Devils would not divulge the strategy, but its mere existence could set Lundqvist and the Rangers wondering and worrying, with New Jersey hoping to turn those thoughts into doubt.
“We’ve watched a lot and talked a lot,” said Zach Parise, the Devils’ leading gunner for the second straight season.
“You target what you see, and maybe you know a little bit about his tendencies. But I’m not telling him where I’m shooting,” said Brian Gionta, the Devils’ single-season record holder in goals.
from the Boston Globe,
Thomas, the 33-year-old American veteran, and Price, the 20-year-old Canadian hotshot, are very different men behind the masks.
There’s the 5-foot-11-inch Thomas, the perpetually written-off underdog with the athletic style who leaves the crease in tatters when he pulls out all the stops. There’s the 6-foot-3-inch Price, the picture-perfect puckstopper with the fluid movement, stickhandling deftness, and pads-down technique, seemingly produced on the butterfly-goalie assembly line in his native Vancouver.
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
The Flyers’ rationale heading into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that begin Friday night in Washington is simple. If Ovechkin spends more time exacting revenge on irritants such as Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell, he’ll spend less time firing rubber in the direction of Marty Biron.
“The big knock on Peter Forsberg was that you could get him playing more of a physical game instead of trying to score,” Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher said. “I can see Ovechkin going that way. He seems like he might have that in him, where he’s more worried about hitting guys than he is scoring. If you can push him that way, yeah, that’s good. We’ll see. It’s his first playoff series, right?”
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Could this be Joe Sakic’s last postseason before retirement?
Could this playoff run — however long it lasts — be the last Avalanche fans see of him in a Colorado uniform before he stands at a podium, likely wipes away a tear or two, and says it was fun while it lasted?
Sakic has always had that knack of avoiding crushing contact — not running from it, but minimizing it with deft and instinctive maneuvering. That’s one of the secrets of his longevity, resilience and long-term effectiveness.
He has the same sense of anticipation for oncoming questions.
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
But I have this feeling at least one of the five cup favourites is going out. One (or more) of Pittsburgh, Montreal, Detroit, San Jose or Anaheim will be golfing in round two.
I wish I were smart enough to predict which one. But it wouldn’t really be an upset if you saw it coming, would it?
from Michael Farber at TSN,
And now, Montreal has fallen madly in love with other Russian dolls. A year ago, many of the Canadiens’ problems could be traced to Russian players that included Alex Kovalev’s critical comments of the organization and Sergei Samsonov’s stunning ineptitude.
Now, the Russians and Belarussians have become the city’s - and perhaps destiny’s - darlings.
After head coach Guy Carbonneau praised Kovalev in March, the 21,273 fans at the sold out Bell Centre took up a chant of “MVP!” for the team’s most valuable player.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail (Wed. edition),
Welcome to the fourth season.
There are actually five in hockey, by a measure once offered up by no less than Wayne Gretzky. There is the exhibition season, which means nothing. There is the regular season, which runs quietly until the trade deadline. Then comes the stretch season, which ended rather dramatically last weekend. Now begins the playoff season, leading up to the Stanley Cup final, which Gretzky always considered a separate season.
As season No. 4 gets under way tonight, perhaps a playoffs primer is in order:
Goaltending: Some say the position has become too dominant and requires a hockey equivalent of the lowering of the mound in baseball.
From John Branch at the New York Times (Wednesday edition),
“I wish I had played 40 games instead of 9, but that’s just the way it is,” Forsberg said in the locker room Sunday. “On the other hand, I should be pretty rested coming into the playoffs.”
Ploy or not, fans have found themselves attracted, again, to Forsberg’s rare blend of grit and artistry. He played his first nine N.H.L. seasons with the franchise, helping lead it to Stanley Cup championships in 1996 and 2001. His vaunted place in local lore was cemented when, during the 2001 playoffs, he had his ruptured spleen removed after helping the Avalanche clinch a spot in the conference finals.
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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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