Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
From Mike Brophy at The Hockey News,
Anyway, Turco wins and he immediately becomes the answer to our next trivia question: Can he lead the Stars past the Wings? Given his play through two rounds, the answer is a resounding yes! Until the games start, naturally.
Looking ahead, the Red Wings will be huge favorites in the Western Conference final. The Stars looked dead in the water through most of overtime Sunday, so how can anybody expect them to beat the best team in the league?
The answer is Turco. Muddle through poor play, long stretches of non-scoring chances and questionable defensive protection. Turco will save the day.
TSN picks a hero of the second round, from each team that made it through to the Conference Finals:
[Philadelphia:] R.J. Umberger, who was considered a third or fourth-line player at the start of the season, has become Philadelphia’s top gun in the playoffs. Case in point: He scored an eyebrow-raising eight goals and nine points in five games against the Habs, and scored the first goal for the Flyers in each victory. While many credit Martin Biron for stellar goaltending that held off the Montreal offence ( and deservedly so), Umberger, a former first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, broke down the Canadiens early and often.
more heroes from Detroit, Pittsburgh and Dallas
from Stan Fischler at Game On,
The coach readily admits that changes must be made. “We need physical engagement,” he avers, perhaps realizing that the likes of Gary Roberts and the other Pitt toughies neutralized the Rangers less physical players.
When all is said and done, the Rangers were eliminated because they played like a fifth place team and Pittsburgh—which surely could win the Stanley Cup—performed like a club that finished on top.
Now that the off-season has hit New York hockey, Sather and his high command will be blueprinting how his Blueshirts can get to the peak in the Spring of 2009. THAT is where the Rangers go from here!
from Jeff Hicks at the Record,
Waddell has been skewered in the Atlanta media.
He needs a young disciplinarian coach to work with the Thrashers’ young prospects, including ex-Ranger Boris Valabik.
Waddell told The Record he has great respect for what (Peter) DeBoer has accomplished in junior and puts DeBoer on his must-call list.
Sources with strong NHL ties say DeBoer and right-hand man Steve Spott are already tagged to take over the Thrashers.
Other names are out there, including the Soo’s Craig Hartsburg and old-timer Pat Quinn, but with little smoke to follow.
thanks to a KK reader for the pointer…
From the Florida Panthers,
Florida Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin announced today that the club has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with RW Wade Belak and C Kamil Kreps. In addition, the club has agreed to terms with D Luke Beaverson on an entry level contract.
From James Duthie via TSN:
The World Juniors make most top prospects household names years before they don an NHL sweater. So the potential of an instant, out-of-nowhere, American Idol-ish star, has fans in a frenzy. Brunnstrom is the most Googled Swede since Tiger’s wife, and he’s inspired endless chatter on NHL thread-sites.
“OMG did you see that move on the video! Nucks plz sign him!”—naslundfan.
“I’m praying for the Leafs to sign him. Sundin-Steen-Brunnstrom would be sick!”—snipecheeseallday.
“Give him 10 mill now and the Cup is ours, baby!”—hockeytown4ever.
So their expectation level for the kid is somewhere between Zettterberg (sic) and Jesus. Yes folks, we have our first Internet created hockey legend.
More here. A fun thesis, but I’ll stick by my own previous assessment: the internet didn’t create Brunnstrom; more like some seriously-savvy marketing by player agent J.P. Barry. This North American ‘tour’ of his during the Stanley Cup Playoffs has just been PR gold.
via Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
“The playoffs are always intense but it throws a little spice into it when it’s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia,” said Crosby, who finished the afternoon with a pair of assists.
“If you want a rivalry, there’s one right there. I’m sure everyone’s well aware of it.”
more on the Eastern Conference Finals…
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
...Having spent parts of the opening two rounds with the Penguins, I would urge Canadian hockey fans not to turn off their TVs. They’re as fun to watch as any team in the NHL. But the fact is U.S.-only semi-finals just don’t appeal nearly as much to Canadians….
A Penguins-Wings final would also be the best-case scenario when it comes to convincing Canadian hockey fans to stay in front of their TV sets in early June when a late tee time or a drink on a nearby patio seems so much more appealing.
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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