Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
This was the kind of game that could have haunted the Anaheim Ducks forever.
It was the kind of game that could have destroyed a Stanley Cup dream and perhaps stained the career of netminder Frederik Andersen for good.
And in an instant, when Matt Beleskey snapped home the rebound of a Ryan Kesler shot just 45 seconds into overtime, the Ducks stared back those doubts and specters and instead found themselves one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup finals.
In the wake of their epically improbable 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night, the Ducks tore down at a little of the mythology of the Blackhawks, and in doing so mythologized themselves a little.
"We wanted this game and we believed we could win this game," said forward Patrick Maroon, who scored what appeared to be the insurance marker in the third period to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead. "I think the guys feel good about it. I think the guys feel good about going into Chicago in Game 6 and ready to play."
Game highlights are below...
from Scott Powers of ESPN,
The Ducks entered the series with the game plan of being physical on the Blackhawks and especially taking it to their top-4 defensemen -- Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has become even more reliant on those four defensemen after Michal Rozsival suffered a season-ending injury in the second round.
The Ducks have followed through with that plan and put 99 hits or 45 percent of the hits on the Blackhawks’ top-4 defensemen. Hjalmarsson has absorbed a series-high 32 hits and is followed by Oduya at 29, Seabrook at 24 and Keith at 14.
Seabrook acknowledged Sunday what the Ducks were doing.
“They're coming hard, they're being physical, got a fast team,” Seabrook said. “But we got a pretty good group back there. Our forwards are doing a good job at helping us out, making it a little easier for us coming back, and limiting odd-man rushes, coming back and presenting themselves so we can get the puck out of the zone quick, not take as many hits.”
As for whether he can feel the hits affecting him?
“You know, I feel fine,” Seabrook said.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also thought it was a non-issue.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
Here’s how close the Ducks and Blackhawks are right now:
Late Saturday night, they gushed about their successful third-period comeback, they clung to the faith exhibited in their utter refusal to surrender and they preached absolute certainty that the results of Game 4 would help them in their pursuit of Game 5.
And that was both teams, the sounds of acquired and renewed coming in stereo, the statements in the respective United Center locker rooms almost identical until reaching the punctuation marks. The Blackhawks were smiling, the Ducks not exactly.
But even then there was a notable similarity. This is hockey, so neither team was showing a lot of teeth.
Tied in games at 2-2, this matchup has been so even that the differences can be measured best microscopically. And why not, given the levels of DNA these players have dripped onto the ice so far?
“I think this series has been played very tight,” explained Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who doesn’t always say things that are as obvious as the former Sears Tower is tall. “Can’t be any more even than what I saw in four games.”
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Has anybody paid attention to the Hawks’ resolve over the last seven seasons? They don’t cave in. There don’t go away without a fight. They have been known to heal themselves.
Not even that three-goal barrage could kill them.
“I think a lot of teams wouldn’t feel too good about themselves,’’ said Toews, who had a goal and an assist. “I think we did a great job of just collecting ourselves and staying calm and knowing it is what it is and you can’t change that. You’ve got to move forward and you’ve got to find a way to get yourself back in the game.
“…I think we had the character and poise to relax and calm ourselves down and make a game of it and find a way to get back into it.’’
This is the franchise that roared back from a three-games-to-nothing deficit in 2011 to take No. 1-seeded Vancouver to a seventh game, before losing in overtime. In 2013, the Hawks were down three games to one to Detroit and won that series. Doubt them at your own risk.
Lots of people, including some players, had painted Game 4 as a must-win game for the Hawks. No. Whether they won or lost, they would to go to Anaheim for Game 5 and give themselves every opportunity to win. That’s how they operate.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
This Game 4 at United Center wasn’t as long as Game 2 was back at Honda Center, but then that exercise in triple overtime was the longest Blackhawks’ game ever, and this franchise has been around longer than the concept of the playoff beard.
Having suffered their second crushing, late-night, last-call defeat of the week, the Ducks – whose resilience is such that no one should question their ability to rebound from this one, either – said all the right things afterward.
All the right things, plus some.
Andrew Cogliano suggested his team “put some doubt” into the Blackhawks’ minds by coming back after being down, 3-1, in the third period.
Perry joined the chorus in noticing all the minutes being accumulated by Chicago’s top defensemen, saying, “If we just keep doing the same things over and over again, we’re going to wear them down.”
And Cam Fowler continued the drumbeat about the team’s deep-rooted faith, noting, “We’re a group that believes, no matter what, in here.”
The guess in this space, however, is that the Ducks fully understand this series looks like it’s headed for a Game 7 – and potentially an epic one – next weekend.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Blackhawks endured an improbable three-goal Ducks onslaught in a 37-second span in the third period, an onslaught that erased a 3-1 Chicago lead. And they withstood a further onslaught from the Ducks in overtime, being outshot 21-7, before Vermette found the back of the net from a sharp angle with just his second shot of the night.
"I think we worked hard to get to where we were in the third period with a 3-1 lead. I guess when it rains it pours, in some moments, especially today for us in the third. I think a lot of teams wouldn't feel too good about themselves," said a still-sweaty Toews, who scored his first goal of the series Saturday to break a five-game goalless drought.
"I think we did a great job of staying calm, collecting ourselves. It is what it is. You can't change that. You have to move forward, find a way to get yourself back in the game. Obviously, when we get into late overtime periods, I think we have a feeling as a group that we're going to find a way to win."
If there was one person who personified that will to win, that belief in the collective when in the face of adversity, it was Vermette, who was inexplicably scratched for Game 3.
He watched that Game 3 loss from the locker room, working out with some of the other scratches.
"The emotion, it's not a pleasant one," Vermette said. "As a proud competitor, like anybody else on this team, you want to be part of the team. You think you can help the team. I think that's a natural emotion to get. At the same time, very supportive of the group.
"Hopeful we get a couple more wins here."
Below, watch the game highlights...
Not sure why ref Chris Rooney was where he was....
The game starts just after 8:00pm ET on NBC, CBC and TVA.
The Ducks can go up 3-1 in the series which would then give them a chance to wrap up the series at home on Monday.
The Blackhawks certainly need this game and should bring their 'A' game tonight.
Feel free to discuss.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
On the day Simon Despres would become a member of the Anaheim Ducks, he was shopping for furniture with his girlfriend. Despres noted that the trade deadline had passed and thought little of the matter.
Then his phone started lighting up with messages wondering how he felt about his impending move to Anaheim.
Needless to say, the Laval, Quebec, native was dumbfounded that he was no longer with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that had drafted him with the 30th overall pick in 2009.
At the time, mentions of the deal that saw former Penguin Ben Lovejoy returned to Pittsburgh in return for Despres considered the trade a wash, if not a slight advantage to Pittsburgh, given Lovejoy’s experience and physical nature.
Hindsight being what it is, it’s difficult to imagine this deal working out any better for Despres or the Ducks, and not just because he delivered the game-winning goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Somewhere in between the three overtime loss and the three and a half hour flight back here from California, the Blackhawks lost their speed.
And with it, they may have lost the ability to dictate the outcome of the remainder of the Western Conference final.
With a crucial Game 4 looming at the United Center on Saturday night, the 'Hawks hope to return to the style that got them through the first two rounds and a series split back in Anaheim.
And to do it, they'll need to get their legs out of the quicksand and not allow the Ducks to control the flow of the game as they did in Thursday's 2-1 win.
"I think any time when you talk about winning a series, you're going to want to play your game," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We can't play a run-and-gun game.
"We're not a team that's built to skate up and down the rink all night long and trade chances. We're just not built that way. We have to execute our system and the things we want to do."
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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