Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
The Buffalo Sabres finished No. 1 overall during the regular season with inoa franchise-high 113 points. The Detroit Red Wings matched them. Anaheim, with 110 points, led the Pacific Division. Ottawa, after a terrible first half, finished with 105 points, only two behind New Jersey.
Get the picture? No surprises. In a league that almost always delivers upsets during the playoffs, it’s only right that the NHL’s Big Four have made it to the finals in the East and West.
Now the fun really begins.
from Mike Waldner of the Daily Breeze,
All that separated the Ducks from possession of the Stanley Cup was a loss in the seventh game of the Finals.
Mike Babcock was the relatively young 40-year-old rookie NHL coach who molded the Ducks into a formidable team. He was bright, passionate, committed and, so it seemed, settling in for a long run in Anaheim.
You know, you never know.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
Obviously, a one-year offer meant there were some doubts about whether Babcock could be the coach Burke wanted him to be, and Babcock wanted more than that.
“He said, ‘One year is not a lot of security,’” Burke recalled. “So he asked for permission to look around. ... He asked for a window (to negotiate with other teams) and he later asked for an extension to that (negotiating window).”
And a few days later, Babcock accepted a multiyear offer to coach the Red Wings.
from Loose Change at the Hockey News,
And all we wanted was the Detroit Red Wings to (a) embrace their spineless-ly Poker-ish ways and fold early and (b) realize that two of their key cogs in the bid for a championship were, at one time, deck hands on The Ark. Now you have the Red Wings getting unexpectedly vital contributions from players with names ending in “son”, “ov”, “berg” and “Datsyuk” and they really have this belief that a route to the Cup doesn’t necessarily require taking the Yzerman Parkway.
more on all of the teams in the CF…
Scott Burnside of ESPN breaks down the WCF,
Many preseason prognosticators believed this was the Ducks’ season. For those who like their foul West Coast style, Anaheim has done nothing to disappoint. The team is 8-2 through the first two rounds and hit the Western Conference finals for the second straight season, well-rested and hungry to take that next step to the Stanley Cup finals.
Now onto the ECF,
At the start of the playoffs, this looked like an absolutely perfect matchup for the right to go to the Stanley Cup finals. And now that it’s here, there’s nothing to suggest this won’t be anything but a terrific showdown between the two best teams in the conference.
from the CBC,
Carlyle doesn’t like his team’s chances to advance to the Stanley Cup final if players continually commit costly penalties.
“Those things are draining. If you continue to give teams opportunities they are going to find a way to put the puck in your net.”
The concern for Carlyle extends beyond Anaheim’s penchant to play short-handed.
Despite their seemingly comfortable elimination of Vancouver, the Ducks looked susceptible at times with some sloppy play.
Earlier today, Anaheim Ducks’ coach Randy Carlyle and player Ryan Getzlaf participated in a media teleconference:
Q. We know that you don’t know who you’re going to be facing yet, but in winning two series in five games, is there anything that you want to see your team do better than they have done throughout the tournament?
COACH CARLYLE: Well, I think there’s always areas of improvement. I don’t think that you could ever say that we’re completely satisfied with our whole team game. I think there’s been parts of our game as a group that we went for stretches where we’ve been very ineffective. We turned the puck over far too many times, and I guess the hugest area of concern for us right now would probably be our penalties. I don’t think that we can continue to take the penalties at the rate that we have in the first two series to continue to have success here as we go forward.
Q. You guys were heavily penalized throughout the regular season; is there a bit of a changing of the gears that your team needs to EMBRACE here in the playoffs where things are more magnified?
from the OC Register,
No Vancouver players were conspicuously absent from the traditional postgame handshake line. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault made a point of congratulating Ducks counterpart Randy Carlyle and his staff. Vancouver general manager Dave Nonis went to Carlyle’s office after the game to commend Ducks coaches and management.
“I expected nothing less from Dave Nonis and Alain Vigneault,” said Ducks general manager Brian Burke, who formerly held the same position with the Canucks….
“We got beat by a better team. It’s as simple as that,” Vigneault said. “The games were tight, but overall they had more speed. They were better than we were.”
from the LA Times,
And because Luongo took a chance and allowed his focus to falter, he was in the losing locker room.
“After the hit, I thought it was an elbow and I looked at the ref for a split second,” said Luongo, who had never advanced to the playoffs in his previous six NHL seasons.
“When I turned my head, the puck was coming and I couldn’t stop it. It was a mistake that I made there and it cost us the game.”
His teammates recoiled at the thought that Luongo would assume blame for a loss that they were so sure would be averted.
more (reg. req.)
Jim Hughson has been doing play-by-play duty for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada in these playoffs, to great acclaim by hockey fans everywhere. He’s currently covering the Anaheim Ducks / Vancouver Canucks series and was good enough to speak to Paul and myself immediately after the pre-game skate today, from sunny Anaheim.
You can download the audio file here, or play it on the video player below.
from the Hockey News,
What’s that sound you ask? That’s the din of the Canucks playoff hopes blowing up exactly one second after Travis Moen smacked a rebound past Roberto Luongo early in OT to give the Ducks a death-grip on this conference semifinal.
But why was that pop so loud? Well, that’s because a whole lot of air had been pumped into Vancouver’s Cup dreams in first 54 minutes and 18 seconds of this contest.
read on and Sabres/Rangers talk too…
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