Kukla's Korner Hockey
The salting of gray in the last playoff beard of the Thrashers Scott Mellanby was a hint. The declining number of late-game shifts, the blur of younger players streaking down the ice, the accelerated aging process of the athlete - they all foretold his immediate future.
So, this is how it would play out for Mellanby: A four-and-out postseason dusting by the New York Rangers that at times tweaked his pride and tested his captaincy.
There are no guarantees how a long career ends in any business. Especially in sports, where sentimentality is the first victim of keeping score. Getting swept by the Rangers in an experience that Mellanby perfectly described as “deflating,” is hardly the way a 21-season-long run is supposed to finish.
“I think it is. It has been a great, fun ride, but I think it’s time,” he said.
From Craig Custance at AJC,
As the Thrashers players filed out of a quiet visitors locker room, one of their owners stood outside sharing in the disappointment.
The Thrashers lost 4-2 to the New York Rangers Wednesday in front of a loud sellout Madison Square Garden crowd. The loss was the final in a 4-0 sweep in the franchise’s first playoff series.
“I’m just trying to remember the good times,” Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson said.
For these Thrashers, the positive memories in a year of firsts — a playoff berth and a division title — were now being threatened by new memories.
Like a packed arena chanting, “Sweep! Sweep!” in the final moments of the Rangers win.
Or Sean Avery driving nearly every Thrashers player crazy with his constant yapping and physical play. He also did a little scoring, once again assisting on a Brendan Shanahan goal that tied the game 2-2.
Or having to answer the same postgame question — What went wrong?
continued… (*requires free registration)
Note: Over at AtlantaThrashers.com, you can find a fan appreciation video.
From NY Daily News,
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try again.
Expectations are growing. Despite all these years of mockery, James Dolan had rightfully earned this small victory over a flawed opponent wearing earth-tone uniforms.
Dolan had stuck with his guy, Glen Sather, who had been losing for what seemed like forever. And after all the lousy seasons and flimsy alibis, both men had discovered the right formula - a calm, savvy coach, a hot goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist and a hybrid roster of grizzled veterans and young legs.
Matt Cullen banged in a shot off the crossbar and helped bounce the New York Rangers into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Cullen fired a rolling puck from just inside the blue line that smacked the iron and dropped on its side just over the goal line 2:06 into the third period Wednesday night. It withstood a lengthy video review and snapped a tie, and Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers with a 4-2 victory.
From NY Daily News,
“I think the mentality of the team right now is: We can’t let up at all,” winger Sean Avery said after the Rangers’ first home playoff win in 10 years. “We just want to come in (tonight) and just hammer them even harder.”
Then there was the moment of confirmation that the Thrashers had again lost their composure. Kovalchuk reacted to an Avery hit by challenging The Grate One to a fight and punching him with his gloved hands, getting both sent to the penalty box for the remaining 16:09 of regulation.
Here’s some video of Sean Avery and Ilya Kovalchuk, not being very friendly, from HockeyFights.com:
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
But when Nick Polano finally saw the young Russian hockey star, 19-year-old Slava Kozlov, it was bad. He was in a hospital bed, recovering from a serious brain injury, a fractured skull, a broken cheekbone and broken ribs suffered in a car accident.
He didn’t look very good,” said Polano, who at the time was the assistant general manager of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.
But Kozlov was alive. The passenger in the car wasn’t as fortunate. Kozlov and Red Army teammate Kirile Tarasov were hit by a bus and Tarasov was killed. Kozlov was fighting for his life.
Polano needed to be careful about what he said to Kozlov, because the patient in the bed beside him was specifically instructed to contact the KGB, Russia’s internal security, if anybody spoke to the young prospect about passports and visas.
from the Thrashers Blog at the AJC,
It’s back to Kari Lehtonen for game three in New York. Bob Hartley announced today after practice that he’s returning to his young goalie, and expects him to play well on Tuesday in New York.
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
The game ended with shoving and hitting and penalties. In the middle of it all was Avery.
“I don’t think it was frustration,” Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said about the chippy finish. “I think it’s more the love we have for Sean Avery. He’s a solid competitor. ... I don’t know him personally, but he seems to disturb lots of people in the league.”
via the Blueland Blog,
Well, I promised I’d post pictures of Kari and Sutton with their blue hair, but as you may have heard if you were listening to the radio this morning, the blue hair is gone.
from the AP via MSNBC,
The last thing Bobby Holik wanted to talk about was Kari Lehtonen’s new do: a bright blue spiked mohawk, flanked by platinum blonde hair.
“Please, I ask you one favor, do not ask me about that,” Holik pleaded. “You have to ignore the situation.”
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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