Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
The inspirational message on the chalkboard in the Ducks’ locker room before their 2008 Stanley Cup playoff opener Thursday was this quote from author Robert Louis Stevenson: “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.”
After watching the Ducks’ lopsided 4-0 loss to the Dallas Stars, a weak first attempt to defend their 2007 Stanley Cup championship, I suggest unveiling a more appropriate quotation before Game 2 on Saturday night at Honda Center.
This one, from noted puckhead Willie Shakespeare, would fit: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”
And speaking of the heads that were crowned in June, why did some of the guys in the home black forget to use them Thursday night?
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
In their first playoff game as the defending Stanley Cup champions, facing a team that was imploding during the final month of the season, the Ducks tripped over their own lofty expectations and dissolved into an ugly pile of mush before a stunned crowd that didn’t fill the Honda Center in body or spirit.
All the mistakes the Ducks overcame last spring because their character and scoring power ran so deep were insurmountable for them Thursday night.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Also working against the Ducks is the sword hanging over Pronger, just back from an eight-game suspension for stepping on the leg of Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
As a multiple offender who served a pair of one-game suspensions last spring, Pronger will be watched closely by NHL officials. A cross-eyed glance at an opponent may get him suspended. Continued poor impulse control could trigger a sentence of five games or more, a loss the Ducks would have difficulty withstanding.
Coach Randy Carlyle said he and Burke talked to Pronger about staying within the rules but neither wants him to change.
“We think that he has to play the game with that competitive edge to continue to be an elite defenseman, and we expect him to do so,” Carlyle said.
Then they’ll have to expect to do without him at least once.
from Marcia C. Smith of the OC Register,
In other news, some local guys in skates start the playoffs Thursday night at Honda Center against the Dallas Stars and … (Cue the crickets, please).
Hello? Hockey? Anyone?
Look around Orange County and listen. Has anyone outside team itself and their loyalists noticed that the Ducks — the defending STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS! — are starting the NHL playoffs?
Where’s the county’s pluck for the puck? Where’s the talk? The energy? The emotion? The fan wearing the orange and black Selanne jersey to pick up milk at the local Ralph’s? The scalpers asking double-face-value for tickets?
Nowhere. Nothing. There’s college-library-like silence. Which is a little surprising from this region renowned for front-running sports enthusiasts.
From Eric Stephens at the LA Times,
The sight of Perry taking part in a couple of drills was encouraging for the Ducks as it appears their leading goal scorer this season could be in position to return sometime during the Western Conference quarterfinals against Dallas.
Perry skated for the first time since his right quadriceps muscle was severed just above the knee when he was cut by the skate of Colorado goaltender Jose Theodore in a game March 6.
“Today, it felt great,” Perry said. “That’s why I stayed out and did a couple of drills with the team. If it continues to be like that, it could be quicker than everybody thinks.”
*Plus more from the LA Times on expectations of a rough series between the Ducks & Stars
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So unless these Ducks are going to change drastically over the next 2 1/2 months, they’re going to have to repeat while scoring less often than last year’s squad and while having to kill off more penalties than the other team most nights.
That doesn’t leave much room for error.
Two major factors work in the Ducks’ favour, however. First, in Jean-Sebastien Giguere, they have a brilliant playoff netminder who owns a 31-13 record all-time in the Stanley Cup tournament, including 12-1 in overtime matches.
Second, they can buckle up the chinstraps and grit their teeth more than any other club. Consider the fact, for example, that in the 10 regular-season and playoff games for which defenceman Chris Pronger has been suspended since last May, the Ducks have won eight.
from Dan Wood of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
The Ducks, who will return to practice Tuesday after taking Monday off, enter the playoffs without a Pacific Division championship to their credit, as they boasted last year, and seeded fourth in the Western Conference instead of second, as they were in 2007. Should they advance, they could have to open every series after the first round on the road, and potentially play any decisive seventh games on enemy ice.
In the minds of the Ducks, those negatives classify merely as minor annoyances. They’re in the playoffs, with the opportunity they wanted, the chance to win a second consecutive Stanley Cup. For all the challenges they have faced this season, the Ducks believe they have another gear, and will shift into overdrive now that the stakes are at their highest.
from Jennifer Floyd-Engel of the Star-Telegram,
That crushing Game 6 loss to the No. 7-seeded Anaheim Ducks in 2003 capped a demoralizing conference semifinal series loss and arguably began what amounts to a near death spiral in Dallas Stars hockey.
They have not gotten out of the first round since 2003. Nor does anybody other than themselves expect them to when this playoff go-round begins Thursday.
Because to do so requires facing the beast, staring down ghosts, going back to Anaheim and beating Jiggy and his Ducks.
Only now, five years later, the Stars are the under-underdogs.
from the Press-Enterprise,
“I’m talking to guys who have ice packs and all kinds of things, my old teammates and buddies on other teams, and they’re saying, ‘It’s been a tough time,’ ” Selanne said with a laugh Saturday afternoon. “And I say, ‘Well, I feel great.’ I highly recommend that we play only 25 games before the real season starts and go from there.
“I’ve never felt this good. Obviously, the break was really good for me, mentally and physically, and hopefully I can take advantage of that.”
from the LA Times,
If being scratched for one of the few times in his long career was a message sent to Doug Weight, it was momentarily lost on the veteran center.
“I don’t need a message,” Weight said, when asked about being in street clothes Sunday for the Ducks’ shootout win. “I’ve played 1,100 games. The message was I have to be at the rink at 7 o’clock [to work].”
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