Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
Saturday? They have only everything on the line, or, as forward Patrick Maroon said, “It’s a best-of-1 now.”
Ducks fans, your team can talk all it wants about the comfort of having Game 7 at home, and the Ducks started reassuring themselves and anyone would listen of that fact immediately after this game was mercifully over.
But, honestly, I don’t think they can count on it helping them one bit, history supporting that notion. Home ice might even be a burden, particularly if they fall behind and the anxiety really starts to mount.
A loss Saturday would make it three consecutive playoffs in which the Ducks were eliminated in a Game 7 defeat at home.
No, Honda Center has not been the place for this team to rescue its season.
It also would mark three consecutive playoffs in which the Ducks were eliminated after leading the series in games, 3-2.
Consider that teams that win Game 5 of a series that was tied 2-2 historically go on to claim the series nearly 80 percent of the time. The Ducks, instead, are staring at the most hollow percentage of all – 0 – as in 0 for 3.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
It has always fascinated this writer, why it is that at the biggest moments in sport, some players continually rise to the top. How the true greats raise their level with the importance of the game, year after year and huge game after huge game.
How Duncan Keith, who is the best player on the ice many times over the course of a National Hockey League season, never, ever fails to contend for that honour in a game like the one they played in Chicago last night. Or how Jonathan Toews can be well known as the most dangerous Blackhawk when the chips are down, yet still he scores meaningful goals with the goalie pulled and everybody watching him.
On Wednesday, in a Game 6 that Chicago absolutely had to have, they went out and took it. Their best players were, as the cliché goes, their best players. The champs fought back, and won 5-2, sending this epic series back to Anaheim, once and for all.
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
"We shot ourselves in the foot tonight," Ducks forward Patrick Maroon said. "That's why it's best-of-seven. We've got to be ready … new day, new start.
"This is what we played 82 games for, what we worked our butts off for — to have home-ice advantage in the playoffs. It's a best-of-one now."
The Blackhawks forced the decisive showdown by blitzing the Ducks for three goals in a 3-minute 45-second span of the second period, with Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith contributing an assist on each score.
The 3-0 chokehold led to the visitors' first regulation loss in their 15th playoff game.
"We lost our composure for the first time, I thought, in the playoffs," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They scored the one goal [and] it was like, 'Aah, what's going on?' We started scrambling all over. They got the momentum. We lost our composure."
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
A crazy, unpredictable series is headed for its logical conclusion, whatever that is.
The Blackhawks and the Ducks will meet Saturday in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, raising the question that has been uttered over and over again for the better part of two weeks.
Who really knows how this series will be settled? The answer is the same as it was before Game 1: No one, that’s who.
“When you get to this point, everybody says (that in) Game 7 anything can happen,’’ Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I think that’s what we truly believe.’’
Below, watch game 6 highlights...
Game 6 is in Chicago tonight with puck drop just after 8:00pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
You know the storyline, Ducks win they move on to the Stanley Cup Final while the Blackhawks will try to force game 7 in Anaheim on Saturday night.
Feel free to discuss the game.
FYI, game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is Friday night so tomorrow is a hockey-free day.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Anaheim looks and sounds as if it’s a confident and well-prepared team. In addition to that wall plaque for pucks, the Ducks also have a series of inspirational slogans painted on their dressing-room wall – all of them dealing with practice and preparation, of getting ready to soar in the big moment.
“Practice the right way all the time” is John Wooden’s contribution. Jerry West advises: “You won’t get much done in life if you only work hard on the days you feel good.” Roy Williams offers: “Everyone has the will to win. Only champions have the will to prepare to win.” And then there is this, from Muhammad Ali: “I hated every minute of training, but I love every minute of being a champion.”
Eleven pucks, five to go, and the Ducks will return to the winner’s circle, for the second time since 2007.
“To be this close, everybody in this room knows where we are, where we stand, what the game’s going to be like,” Perry said. “You have to go in there and you have to believe that you can win in that building again. That’s the approach we’re going to take.”
from Mark Whicker of the LA Daily News,
The meager hours between NHL playoff games were not always spent in the most ascetic fashion.
Which is another way of saying that yesterday’s athletes had a different concept of sleep than today’s do.
The old guys thought it could be postponed. Until death.
“After the game, these guys are not going out,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.. “They’re having a good meal and they’re going to bed. I don’t think you could say the same for the 70s and 80s.”
Oh. So what did they do in the 70s and 80s?
“Next question,” Boudreau said.
This comes up because the Ducks and Blackhawks have burned more calories in five games than a bowling team would in five years.
The overtimes define it, of course, They played 116 minutes and 12 seconds in Game 2, and tacked on 85:37 more in Game 4.
On Tuesday, the Ducks were ready to go home after the standard 60 minutes. But Jonathan Toews wanted to keep playing.
His two goals in the final two minutes forced another OT, which Matt Beleskey ended in 45 seconds. The Ducks now lead the Hawks, 3-2.
from Tal Pinchevsky of the New York Times,
Maroon’s is a unique hockey journey which shifted the day the Flyers told him to pack his bags.
“The organization made a decision to send him home,” said Greg Gilbert, who delivered that message to Maroon as the coach of Philadelphia’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.
“He wasn’t committed to himself,” Gilbert said. “In Patrick’s case, I don’t really think he knew how to train and play at that level.”
At the time of his unceremonious exit, Maroon led the Phantoms with five goals in the team’s first nine games. He was emboldened the previous summer by his first overseas tournament, a gold medal performance at the 2010 I.I.H.F. InLine World Championship.
Playing alongside two of his oldest friends, Maroon scored seven goals and 14 points in six games at the in-line worlds. He even notched a goal and an assist in the gold medal game in Karlstad, Sweden, against the Czechs.
“It was the best time of my life,” Maroon said. “You got away from everything. You got away from all the stress and worries about other things. I went there to have fun and just enjoy my time with those guys and meet new people and enjoy Sweden.”
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
It was the first time the Hawks have lost under Joel Quenneville after a series was tied 2-2. They had been 14-0 in Games 5 and 6 in such situations, the league’s ultimate closers. Now they face the daunting task of having to win two elimination games in a row to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in six years.
It could have been one of the greatest comebacks in Hawks history, one of the unlikeliest wins for a team with a long list of them. Down 4-2 with time ticking away and Corey Crawford on the bench, Toews unleashed a monster slap shot off the iron and in with 1:50 left to make it a game. Then, with 37.2 seconds left, his seemingly harmless fling on net from the corner behind the goal line somehow got through Frederik Andersen — an unimaginably soft goal in such a situation — to tie the game, and stun the Honda Center crowd into utter silence.
“We’ve been through that before,” Patrick Sharp said. “We won the Stanley Cup with two goals in 17 seconds. They don’t get much higher than that. It’s a good series. Good team over there, good team in here.”
And the Ducks, as they have all series long, rebounded in a big way, right away. They have yet to lose in regulation this postseason.
“It’s Ducks hockey,” Kesler joked. “We don’t like to do anything easy.”
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.
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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