Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
As hard as the St. Louis Blues tried, there was no way to make Monday morning feel normal.
Not with Game 7 just hours away and a sour Blackhawks-induced reflux taste still lingering on the tip of their tongues.
Defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk said he woke up with his stomach in a knot. Captain David Backes noticed the extra media presence. The Blues even changed up their routine, checking into a downtown hotel for the afternoon in an attempt to channel their focus.
“I think if you’re not nervous in this situation, it’s a little unhuman (sic) to feel that way,” Shattenkirk said.
There was a palpable tension in the St. Louis dressing room. Coughing up a 3-1 series lead, after blowing a two-game edge two of the last three years, will do that. The Blues have allowed 10 goals in the last two games, none bigger than the three that wiped away their 3-1 lead in Game 6 on Saturday.
There was also a sense of opportunity.
“You play hockey for Game 7s,” Blues forward Paul Stastny said. “You dream about it, actually.”
Monday marks the first Game 7 at Scottrade Center since 2000. The home team is 94-67 all-time in Game 7s and went 3-2 in 2015.
"This is our Game 7 right now, we’re taking this as a Game 7. We have to put our best foot forward tonight because we’re going to get their best."
-Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks on game 6 tonight in Nashvlille. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN has more on the gtame.
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,
Any update on his status:
“Pffffff ... that's a good answer right? ... Just getting back out there. Trying to get a sweat and to stop some pucks. See how it goes throughout the day.”
Are you still experiencing symptoms:
On trying to stay positive:
“Oh, it's one of the toughest things I've been through. Some good days and you think you're back. And some bad days you think it's never going to get fixed. A lot of ups and downs. Being the playoffs, it's such a fun time of year to play hockey. Every game is so intense, meaningful. It's tough to just be watching but you just got do deal with it, fix it up and cheer on the guys."
from Lyle Richardson at The Hockey News,
The Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings were the first clubs eliminated from the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Their early exits have given rise to considerable speculation about their off-season plans.
Having rebounded from missing the 2015 post-season, the Kings entered this year’s playoffs considered among the Cup favorites. Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times cites a lack of blueline depth for why they fell in six games to the San Jose Sharks. It’s an issue she believes GM Dean Lombardi will have difficulty addressing this summer.
A lack of salary-cap space will hamper Lombardi’s effort to bolster his defense. The Kings currently have over $65.9 million invested in 20 players for 2016-17, though center Vincent Lecavalier’s anticipated retirement should free up an additional $2.25 million.
from Curtis Zupke of the LA Times,
Past is not prologue, as far as the Ducks are concerned, even if the ink on the recent pages of their history is somewhat fresh.
They have been in this position each of the past two seasons, having a 3-2 series lead, and both have ended in anguish. The Ducks lost the final two games to the Chicago Blackhawks in last year's Western Conference final and against the Kings in the 2014 semifinal.
Players expectedly closed the book on all that heading into Monday's Game 6 with a 3-2 first-round series lead on the Nashville Predators.
"I look at that as last year," Hampus Lindholm said. "That's history for me. This is a new year, a new group. It doesn't really bother me what happened that year … all that stuff that happened before. I don't think anyone has that on their mind right now."
Said Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau about the past: "I'm not bringing it up."
Questions about learning from the past has practically become a rite of spring for Boudreau. He said Sunday that it's helped his approach in trying to find the right formula and cited "experience is the best teacher."
from Bill Burt of the Eagle Tribune,
The Bruins appeared to be one step ahead of the gritty and talented Chicago Blackhawks, who had won a Cup three years earlier and were arguably the best of the talented Western Conference.
The Bruins appeared to be possibly melding into ... well ... the New England Patriots.
They were young. They were tough. They were smart. They could win 1-0 and they could win 8-7. They were well-managed. They were well-coached. And, for the first time since Bobby Orr floated through the air in 1970, they appeared to be “championship driven.”
Jeremy Jacobs, who had owned the franchise since August of 1975, was in uncharted waters.
For the first time in nearly four decades, he was almost adored. Almost....
The Bruins we have learned are pretenders, with most of that great, young talent we saw in 2013, gone.
Other than five or so players, this franchise looks like it’s in big trouble immediately going forward.
They are a team that reflects its management and ownership.
Who is going to fire them?
thanks to a KK reader for the pointer
Evgeny Kusnetsov when asked (roughly translated)...
- Malkin, Crosby - your future opponents in the next series. Much worse than the Flyers! How to stop them?
- "There are coaches, they all show and tell how to play. There, in the "Pittsburgh", are the same people - two legs, two arms, one head."
More of a Q & A with Kusnetsov by Pavel Lysenko of SovSport (Google translate)
from Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press,
It’s simply confounding.
The Wild are great, good, bad and awful – all in one series. All in one game! Devan Dubnyk is terrific. Devan Dubnyk is terrible. The team is in good shape. The team is a mess.
Where is this franchise, anyway? One thing we know for sure is that the Wild are tremendous at lowering expectations. For 82 regular season games they hammer at our sensibilities. Every season is supposed to be the one in which they take the next step. Every season they squeak into the playoffs. And then folks around here get chills when they sneak in.
Sunday was a perfect example of how the Wild operate. After falling behind 4-0, they staged a stirring comeback in the third period only to lose 5-4. They received a huge ovation as the buzzer sounded. People were tickled. Great effort, great comeback. And everyone conveniently forgets that they fell behind 4-0 to begin with.
from Jose de Jesus Ortiz,
Whether they like it or not, the Blues will surely be reminded often over the next two days of the disappointing 2014 playoffs against the Blackhawks.
The Blues won the first two games of the 2014 series before losing four in a row to Chicago. A collapse this time around might be even more deflating because they had taken a 3-1 lead in the series after winning Game 4 at United Center to move within a victory over the Western Conference semifinals.
The Blues can still finish off the Blackhawks in Game 7 to advance. Until then, however, one must wonder if these are the same old Blues.
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
I don’t want to say it’s over, but how do you like your Blues cooked? Well-done? Charred around the edges? Or bloody?
If you go by all the signs that point to one team asserting itself over another, then you know this first-round series is over. And you should go by those signs because they mean something. They mean something to the Blackhawks. And they most definitely mean something to the Blues.
from David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Roughly 30 minutes had elapsed since his first season as an NHL coach ended, and Dave Hakstol was not yet ready to reflect. He did not want to talk about the vast number of positives he would take away from Year 1, nor did he want to talk about the lessons that a six-game series against the best team in hockey had taught him. As he sat at a table in a conference room in the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center, he could not yet bring himself to turn his focus to the future.
"I think you use all the information at hand in order to evaluate and look at ways to get better," Hakstol said. "Obviously, this series is the latest information we have, and playoff time is a little different level, but it will be part of the information, for sure, that we use as a staff and as a group to evaluate and look at areas we need to improve on and push forward."
Forward. It's the word that has defined this franchise since it hired Hakstol last summer. This season was never supposed to be about 2016. To anybody outside of the organization, the playoff series that ended Sunday with a 1-0 loss to the Capitals was little more than an entertaining diversion. Really, we learned as much by what the Flyers failed to accomplish as we would have had they fluked their way into the second round. They lost, and that's something. But what it told us about them is the important thing.
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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