Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Both these teams have earned their way here. Chicago is 8-2 in the postseason, including a second-round sweep of the Minnesota Wild. The Ducks arrive with an 8-1 postseason record after sweeping Winnipeg and dispatching a plucky Calgary team in five games.
But the Blackhawks and Ducks have reached this point playing very different styles.
The Blackhawks rely on skill and speed up and down the lineup, which allows them to track down the puck and keep it. And they're a battle-tested lineup that has won two Stanley Cups (2010, 2013) and appeared in another conference finals (2014) in the past five years.
The Ducks, meanwhile, are a big, physical team built more in the image of the Los Angeles Kings. They're happy to dump the puck in and then punishingly retrieve it before, usually, heaving it into the opposing goal. The Ducks may not have the playoff experience of Chicago, but they have the hunger of a team that has been knocked down a time or two in recent playoff years and is ready for the final steps toward a championship.
This series should be a rollicking affair, and our guess is the winner will be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
There’s been incredible buzz following the Mike Babcock story, and for good reason. He’s one of the winningest coaches in National Hockey League history, and despite Detroit’s overtures to make him the highest paid bench boss in the league, he seems adamant about testing free agency.
And there’s plenty of discussion following Todd McLellan, too. Though McLellan’s departure from San Jose ended in less-than-stellar fashion, the numbers – just as they do with Mike Babcock – lay the foundation of a very impressive argument, one that figures to end with a considerable financial windfall.
One of the things I can’t help but notice is the company that McLellan and Babcock keep in the coaching hierarchy. If you pull out any National Hockey League head coach with at least 500 games under his belt and sort by career Point%, McLellan sits 3rd-best all time, and Babcock 5th. Among active coaches, McLellan and Babcock slide up to 2nd-best and 3rd-best, respectively.
What’s particularly intriguing to me are the pair of names who sit above McLellan and Babcock in the pecking order. Second-place is Scotty Bowman, largely considered to be the greatest coach in National Hockey League history.
First place? Go ahead, take a quick guess.
Nice to hear the interaction between the refs and players...
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
Slamming doors is considered rude, except in the NHL playoffs. Then it’s simply prudent.
The Ducks ended their second-round series Sunday with their Game 5 3-2 victory over Calgary, and the Ducks improved to 2-0 in games with a chance to eliminate the opponent. They swept Winnipeg in the first round.
Now it’s on to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Western Conference final. The Ducks have advanced past the second round for the first time since 2007 and also have given indication that this team has changed for the better. In 2013 and 2014, the Ducks didn’t close the door, then saw it get slammed in their faces.
Two years ago, the Ducks led Detroit 3-2 in the first round, then lost Game 6 on the road and Game 7 at home. Last year in the second round, the Ducks led the Kings 3-2 and the same scenario repeated.
``I think we’re more composed than last year,’’ Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. ``I think the experience, as much as we didn’t like it, in the end it helped us. That’s a really big positive. … We lost to the Stanley Cup champions. We lost in Game 7 and that lingered with us all year. They would like to make amends.’’
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In time, the disappointment of how it ended – with a gutting 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks – will be mitigated by the unexpectedly successful season they had. But that knowledge did nothing in the short term to temper the disappointment they were feeling in the Calgary Flames’ dressing room Sunday night, when their remarkable, unexpected run to the second round of the NHL playoffs came to an abrupt end in Death Valley, aka the Honda Center.
The Ducks, who’d dominated the Flames at home for the better part of a decade, found a way of pulling one out of the fire Sunday.
Unlike the first two games in the series, which Anaheim dominated and won by a cumulative 9-1 margin, the Flames gave them a much harder time of it in Game 5.
Calgary never trailed in the game until Corey Perry scored 2:26 into overtime to give the Ducks another in a season-long string of come-from-behind victories. Anaheim dominated the overtime, but it wasn’t until Perry banged in a loose puck from the crease, after surviving a scary moment earlier in the game, that the Ducks finally put the Flames away.
“It’s sad that our season is over,” said Flames’ coach Bob Hartley, “but the boys battled hard. There are lots of long faces in this locker room. They wanted to keep going. I’m very proud of our group. Tonight, is not a good night. It’s a tough loss to swallow, but at the same time, we knew that with a young team, we had to take some lessons – and tonight is a tough one.
“Looking at the season, looking at the playoffs, the Ducks stepped it up and in the third period and in OT, we had no answers for them.”
Below, watch the Perry OT goal, handshakes, etc...
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
The Calgary Flames are all out of second chances and have no more last life lines left to call.
Sunday — Game 5 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks — is their final hope of extending their Cinderella season.
After Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, they trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“We want to keep going,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley Saturday afternoon as the team prepared to load up to head back to the Happiest Place on Earth. “This has been a great season for us. I know how resilient our players have been. It’s not that we’re down 1-3 or we haven’t won in Anaheim. We need to win one game. Let’s bring it back to the ‘C’ of Red and, after this, let’s see what happens.
“But we need to win (Sunday) night, plain and simple.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Boudreau, speaking on a conference call with reporters Saturday after the Ducks returned from Calgary, said he's not preoccupied with thoughts of facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the West final. First in his mind, as it should be, is subduing the Flames, who haven't gone down quietly since the Ducks' series-opening 6-1 rout.
"I try not to think about it," Boudreau said. "I know it's cliched, but I'm just trying to think about tomorrow. Because if you think about tomorrow and it goes successfully then everything else will take care of itself and you'll have enough time to think about the other thing. So I haven't put really any thought into playing Chicago at all....
"The last two games, even three games, have been so tough that the minute you start thinking about putting the cart before the horses you're in trouble. We've got a really tough opponent who will be very, very motivated [Sunday] and if we're not completely with our minds set on them, we're in trouble."
Reaching the conference final would bring him personal vindication, but Boudreau dodged that discussion.
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
Facing elimination on Sunday in Game 5 at the Honda Center — a position they put themselves in after their belief carried them to a 4-3 overtime win in Tuesday’s Game 4 as, yet again, another comeback victory — the Flames are behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven second-round series.
“We know our situation … obviously, we need to win,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “We’ll be a desperate group, as always. I know that everyone that’s going to get on the plane (Saturday) believes we can go and get Game 5 and force a Game 6 here.
“That’s the identity of this organization all year. A tough loss, we’re going to swallow it. (Saturday) we’ll be back at work.”
On this night, however, their resilient nature wasn’t enough.
Joe Colborne’s uncharacteristic high-sticking penalty on Francois Beauchemin at the end of the second period led to Matt Beleskey’s game-winning goal 1:11 into the third period. Patrick Maroon scored an empty-netter with 36.7 seconds left on the clock to ice it.
The Flames had a 56-second five-on-three in the third — which had been similar to the final minutes of Tuesday’s game which saw Johnny Gaudreau connect with 19.5 seconds left to force overtime. But they couldn’t connect.
Game highlights are below...
added 8:03am, Game story from Eric Duhatsched is below too....
from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun,
If you’ve been following this second-round showdown between the Flames and Ducks, you know Honda Center has been a house of horrors for the crew from Calgary. In fact, they have lost 21 straight contests in Anaheim, a skid that dates back to April 25, 2006.
So the idea of facing elimination just down the street from Disneyland is ... well ... downright frightening.
With a victory Friday in Game 4 at the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet/Sportsnet 960 The Fan), the Flames can avoid that.
Or, at least, delay it.
“Obviously, they have home-ice advantage, so you have to win one there,” said Flames right-winger David Jones. “To get the win last game was a huge game. And now, it’s going to be equally important. We don’t want to go back into their building down 3-1.”
The Flames were down 3-2 in the final moments of Tuesday’s Game 3, but Calder Trophy candidate Johnny Gaudreau picked the top shelf with 19.5 ticks left in the regulation to force overtime and centre Mikael Backlund snaked a shot through traffic on a delayed penalty call in the extra session.
“I think we’ve given them some life in the series now, which is never a good thing, especially against a pesky Calgary team, a team that really enjoys playing in their own building,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler told reporters after Thursday’s practice in Banff. “We understand that we’ve given them some confidence for Game 4 but, when it comes down to it, if we do the things we can do as a team, we feel like we’re a difficult group to handle.
“We have to come with a good response in Game 4 and try and put another stranglehold on the series.”
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.
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