Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Spector at Fox Sports,
Domination is the only word required to describe the Detroit Red Wings performance over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two games of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals.
The Red Wings have owned the Penguins in almost every aspect of the game thanks to a strong team system based on puck possession, skill, speed, discipline, patience and physical hard work.
From Michael Farber at SI.com’s Rinkside Blog,
The sound you heard after Detroit’s ditto 3-0 victory Monday was all the people clicking off their Versus telecast of the game, at least by folks who can find the NHL’s subterranean cable partner. NBC picks up the Stanley Cup final with Game 3, which looks like the network is getting the rights to air Titanic but only after the ship is halfway submerged. Still, The Peacock will be cranking up the hype machine at any moment:
“See Sidney Crosby, the future of the NHL, as he tries to escape the straitjacket of the Detroit Red Wings! Harry Houdini did it. Why not Sid? Can the Penguins win a game? Can the Penguins score a goal? See it live on NBC, Wednesday at 8 p.m.”
Of course, there have been soporific starts to recent Stanley Cup finals, including a pair of 3-0 shutouts in the opening two games of the 2003 match between Anaheim and New Jersey when apparently the Mighty Ducks were not informed the final had actually begun. The Ducks rallied at home and indeed the series dragged on for seven games, but the difference was these were not terribly appealing teams that operated in smaller markets.
and more on the Pens/Wings series thus far
Update 1:30pm ET: Darren Eliot, also at SI’s Rinkside Blog, writes on what Pittsburgh must do now to turn the series around.
from Scott Morrison of the CBC,
No goals, no chance.
But after 4-0 and 3-0 losses in Detroit, the Penguins can lament the chances they missed, the troubles they had generating scoring opportunities, the flopping of the goaltender, and the zeroes on the board - but their biggest concern should be the next goal to be scored in the series.
If it doesn’t belong to the Penguins, look out. If it does, then we might have a series yet.
from the NHL blog at the NY Post,
Maybe ... just maybe, the East isn’t nearly as good as the West. The best in the East has yet to mount a challenge against the Western Conference champion Red Wings. With the scene shifting to Pittsburgh, the Pens are likely hoping their 8-0 form at Mellon Arena in these playoffs is something they can parlay into a win. Else, if Detroit takes Game Three, Crosby and Co. could find themselves swept out of the playoffs by a juggernaut.
From Ben Klayman at Reuters,
However, many thought Wirtz’s coup was the late November hiring of John McDonough, president of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, to the same position with the Blackhawks.
“We need to take that beautiful arena and we need to bring back the roar and fill that building every night,” McDonough, 54, said. “Expectations are sky high.”
He moved quickly to repair relations with alienated former Blackhawks stars still beloved by fans, hiring Hall-of-Famers Hull, Mikita and Tony Esposito as ambassadors.
“It was embarrassing for a while there. Things were looking real dismal,” said former star goalie Esposito, 65, who was the face of the franchise in the 1970s. He said the club is now being run like it was in its heyday.
more… *a detailed look at the evolution of the Blackhawks franchise
As I’ve written in the past, the changes in Chicago represent one of my favorite NHL stories this season. A remarkable turnaround in effect there.
From Dan Rosen at NHL.com,
Instead of playing in Peterborough the last two seasons, [Jordan] Staal has made it big with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so big that now he’s the first teenager to play in the Stanley Cup Final since Dainius Zubrus did it as a 19-year-old with Philadelphia in 1997.
“This is what I have always dreamt about doing, so I haven’t thought about missing anything else,” Staal told NHL.com. “The only thing I would miss is the Cup if we don’t win it. There is no other place I’d rather be.”
That he’s already here is quite an amazing story.
more on the career journey of Jordan Staal
The Hockey News has been archiving audio from the winner’s dressing room after each game.
Go here to hear Scotty Bowman share his thoughts, then scroll down the page and you’ll find links to commentary from Niklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Valteri Filpulla and Johan Franzen.
On a related note, a comment from Paul that I thought I’d pass on:
After Babcock finished his post game press conference, he met with Scotty for about ten minutes, one on one, going over the game. How much of a help Bowman is to the Wings, we may never know, but it certainly cannot hurt to have Bowman use his “consultant” role to the fullest extent.
From David Staples in his Cult of Hockey blog at the Edmonton Journal,
At this point, I would place the Penguins development alongside the Oilers of 1981 or 1982.
The ‘Guins [...] are getting schooled by a superior team, as happened to the Oilers in 1981, but also humiliated by their own inconsistent, nervous, not ready for prime time effort, as happened to the Oilers against the Kings in 1982, when the “choke” [word] was uttered in Edmonton, just as it is surely now being whispered in Pittsburgh.
The next few games will tell the story for the Pens. Are they really the Oilers of 1983, just a few hard lessons away from Stanley Cup dominance? Or is this a longer road yet? My guesstimate is its the latter. They’ve still got some serious eliminating to do of players who aren’t capable enough, as well as some major maturing of those who are.
more with a breakdown of errors in the game
As mentioned yesterday, the NHL hosted a “Legends” evening on Sunday for the media, featuring Red Wings’ stars of the 1950s including Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Alex Delvecchio, Marty Pavelich and Red Kelly.
Paul Kukla attended and said it was a wonderful event, telling me “it was a great night, where hockey reporters turned into fans too.” And he wasn’t the only one who was impressed. As Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun remarked, “every now and then, Gary Bettman’s league gets something absolutely, spot-on perfect.”
Here’s a short video clip from the Canadian Press, talking to some of those Hall of Fame players on Sunday.
A nice brochure was handed out at the event “A Salute To The Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Dynasty” featuring photos of the team and individual players from those Stanley Cup years 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
A nice little collectible—so leave a note in the comments by midnight EST if you’re interested (don’t forget to provide your email address) and we’ll mail the brochure to a randomly-drawn winner.
from Matt Sober of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Yet as the faithful and newly converted alike celebrate the Penguins’ miraculous berth in the Stanley Cup Final, a few of us still don’t feel the presence of Sid in our lives.
And he has been declared the savior, has he not?
It’s not so much that I don’t like the Penguins as I have never had much interest in hockey, which continues to feel a lot like watching pinball for two-and-a-half hours. Or at least pinball with the occasional bloody nose.
But the Penguins? Well, with the possible exception of Jarkko Ruutu, they all seem likable enough.
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