Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
The learning curve has passed, and you’ll notice the hockey is better and more high scoring this spring. Look at these comparisons between the 48 games played in Round 1 this spring, to the 47 games played in Round 1 back in the ‘04, the final playoff before the lockout:
• Shut outs: 14 in ‘04, eight in ‘08.
• Games in which one team scored four goals: 16 in ‘04, 26 in ‘08.
• Games in which one team scored five goals: six in ‘04, 13 in ‘08.
This spring it has become clear that NHL players have learned how to play the game now without a rodeo breaking out. Officials have found the balance between calling every, single little ticky-tack foul, and maintaining the standard.
from Steve Zipay of Blue Notes,
The news conference was winding down and Martin Straka’s critical third-period interference penalty on Sidney Crosby wasn’t rehashed.
So Penguins coach Michel Therrien today took it upon himself to unload and perhaps ignite a war of words.
“Where I’m kind of disappointed, that there’s this gamesmanship happening before this series about Sidney drawing peanlties,” Therrien began. “I’m kinda disappointed, this is a star player that plays into traffic, a powerful skater…. and we all know what (Rangers coach) Tom Renney is trying to do, he tried to do it before we started before the series, and I see his comment today.”
from James Duthie at the Ottawa Citizen,
I would like everyone to give referees ... a break.
Why do I suddenly feel like the guy on the All-Bran Cereal Bars commercial, where everyone spits out their water or laughs hysterically when he says they taste good?
It’s true. After spending the past two weeks scrutinizing call after questionable call on our TSN panel (TV factoid: debating referee rulings is a can’t-miss way to kill five minutes), I’m starting to suffer from some warped form of Stockholm Syndrome. I’m feeling sorry for the men in stripes.
Has there been the odd horrendous, brain-cramp, WTF?!? call in these playoffs? Of course. But there have also been countless occasions where we’ve looked at a replay a dozen times in Super-Duper HD Slo-Mo, and still haven’t been able to tell if the right call was made.
from the Hamilton Spectator,
Different societies have different status symbols. North America has cars, houses and jewellery. Many African countries have the cellphone. In some parts of Asia, it’s a rare white truffle.
In pro hockey? It’s the towel.
If you’ve been watching Hockey Night In Canada even a little bit, you’ve seen the one. The white one with the round HNIC logo that’s draped over a player’s shoulder while he’s doing an intermission interview.
Unbelievable as it may sound in a sports world where pocket change is counted in the thousands of dollars and most players make an average Canadian’s annual salary in a matter of minutes, in dressing room currency these swaths of woven cotton are absolute gold.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
John H. McConnell died yesterday. He wasn’t quite 85 years old, and he had an incredible life. It began in a house that did not have electricity. It ended in a hospital where he donated a tower…..
He liked the players, and told them to play for one another. He liked the game, the toughness of it, the stress it put on team play. He thoroughly enjoyed sitting in his box, up there in the corner above sections 106 and 107, and seeing the arena fill up for a major-league sport right here, in Downtown Columbus. I have no doubt he was happy that the Jackets will play on, indefinitely, beyond him. That was the point.
When they showed his face on the Jumbotron, he’d wave and the crowd would cheer. That’s not a normal owner-fan relationship, but it’s not surprising in this case. McConnell’s intentions were always transparent and pure and it was impossible not to like the man, and admire him. The jamokes in section 216, row Z, had a bond with him.
John Buccigross and Barry Melrose give us a three minute recap of the action last night.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Hey, Jaromir, who’s laughing now?
Behind closed doors, that well may have been the message being bellowed inside the jubilant home locker room last night among a group of exhausted—and, in this case, euphoric—Pittsburgh Penguins.
Earlier this week, Rangers star Jaromir Jagr raised some eyebrows in the Steel City for claiming Pittsburgh’s terrific tandem of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin “are not Mario Lemieux.”
But they are damn good in their own right. And no one should know that better this morning than Jagr, who, from ice level, had the best view in the house of just how lethal that Crosby-Malkin combination can be.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
They were as disciplined as a class of fourth-graders with a substitute teacher. If not for the brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist Henrik Lundqvist in goal, they’d have been down by three goals within the first 20 minutes.
“I don’t want to think about it,” said Lundqvist, who yielded as many as five goals for the first time since the infamous Feb. 19, 6-5 shootout loss in Montreal. “We just have to move on.”
Plain and simple, this was an embarrassing display of playoff hockey, even more mortifying given that the Rangers somehow managed to construct a 3-0 lead by the 3:37 mark of the second on goals by Straka, Chris Drury and Sean Avery.
The lead meant nothing. The Rangers couldn’t focus or execute. The defense made terrible decisions. The forwards were not only no better in their puck management, they constantly arrived too late.
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
Winning the Cup is like climbing K2. There are many paths to the same destination.
Under the salary-cap system, building through the draft has been re-adopted as the best way to build a winner. But here in Pittsburgh they’re really only in Year 2 of being a competitive team, and in last night’s lineup they will have eight players who will become unrestricted free agents. And that doesn’t count injured forward Gary Roberts and defenceman Mark Eaton. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury becomes a restricted free agent at year’s end as well.
It can’t be easy building a team of destiny, when so many parts can be lost at one time.
“We’ve got a lot of unrestricted guys, restricted guys. There’s a window,” admits Darryl Sydor, a reserve
defenceman on this Penguins squad who played on Dallas’s Stanley Cup team back in 1999, and in Tampa in ‘04. “This spring and summer will be an important time. Either they can lock these guys up and build around a core group of players, or you have to start over.”
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
An overtime goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs is like a rowdy bar shutting down with a closing time picked entirely at random. Especially when the visiting team wins.
One moment, the arena is full of life and good times and possibilities. The next, things are silent and everyone files out quietly to the parking lot. What’s the closing-time mantra? You don’t have to go home. But you can’t stay here.
The Sharks were at home Friday night. But they didn’t stay on task. Playing against a Dallas Stars team in Game 1 of their second-round series, the Sharks spent far too much time playing hockey exactly the way the Stars wanted both teams to play. Which is why the game ended in a 3-2 victory by Dallas.
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.
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