Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
The Ducks stifled the Hawks in the third and yet another power play went for naught when the Hawks failed to get bodies to the net and pucks to the goal.
"It's frustrating," Sharp said. "We have to be better. We have to get pucks to the net."
Captain Jonathan Toews did not use the word, but he didn't have to. His remarks were short and his temper not far behind.
"We're not making any excuses," Toews said. "We'll find ways to be better in the next one. It's a great team we're playing and we know we have to be better on special teams."
Most frustrating for Hawks fans was seeing Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom back in the lineup in place of Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette.
It meant Andrew Shaw was back at third-line center after some terrific games as a fourth-line winger. It meant the ineffective Versteeg dragged down another line, this time with Sharp on it, and it meant no Teravainen, which is inexplicable.
Perhaps most baffling is burying Sharp on the third line, when he could be helping Patrick Kane shake loose. To this point, Kane has a single point in the series after a Ducks collision offered him a loose puck in the slot and led to a goal late in the first period Thursday.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Instead of letting the past determine their future, the Anaheim Ducks revealed an inner fortitude that now has them halfway to a berth in the Stanley Cup finals.
Less than 48 hours after a crushing triple-overtime defeat in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, the Ducks turned up in one of the loudest, most difficult buildings to play in and came away with a 2-1 victory that gives them a 2-1 series lead.
It was not particularly pretty at times.
The Ducks seemed to fall into a potentially destructive shell in the third period as they tried to nurse a one-goal lead across the finish line, relying on netminder Frederik Andersen to come up huge -- again -- as Chicago outshot Anaheim 10-5 in the third period.
And the pace was well off the dazzling to and fro that dominated the epic clash in Game 2.
But when it mattered most on Thursday night, the Ducks proved they were made of sterner stuff than could be deflated by a triple-overtime loss. And the battle-tested Blackhawks revealed that perhaps winning a game in triple overtime can be as taxing as losing one.
Watch the game highlights below...
Puck drops just after 8:00pm ET on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
The series is 1-1 and the series shifts to Chicago for the next two games.
Discuss as you wish.
from Eric Stephens and Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
After their 4-hour, 52-minute Game 2 victory Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks stayed overnight in Southern California then flew home Wednesday morning. Not surprisingly, they skipped practice.
The question for the Blackhawks involves how well they will rebound from a physical standpoint in Game 3, particularly on defense. Duncan Keith played 49 minutes, 51 seconds, in Game 2. Brent Seabrook played 47:46, Niklas Hjalmarsson played 47:45 and Johnny Oduya played 46:06.
The Ducks’ Francois Beauchemin played 46:29, but no other Ducks defenseman topped 40 minutes.
“You just focus on the next game,” Hjalmarsson said. “Yeah, it was a lot of minutes, but we won the game and we’ll move on from there. Personally, I feel fine. I have no complaints.”
The Blackhawks have been here before. In the first round against Nashville, they won Game 1 in double overtime and Game 4 in triple overtime. The Blackhawks followed both long victories with losses, though.
“I think there’s a lot more left in the tank,” captain Jonathan Toews said, “and we’re excited to get back to home ice, to try to get (the Ducks) on their heels a little bit more and just find that excitement and jump and energy.”
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So after all of that -- the head-butted goal that wasn’t, the 118 shots on goal, the 244 shot attempts, the cross bars and posts and glorious chances that literally numbered in the dozens through the course of 116 minutes, 12 seconds of delirious playoff hockey -- the question is: What comes after epic?
Because that’s what Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was right from the get-go when the Chicago Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on two power-play goals on through to the moment that Marcus Kruger somehow managed to knock down a Brent Seabrook point shot and then sweep it past Anaheim Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen at 16:12 of the third overtime.
A titanic tilt.
At its most basic, the Kruger goal -- one that came on just his second shot on goal -- gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory and tied this conference finals series at one game apiece.
There are still miles to go in this series before a winner is crowned. But it is impossible to dismiss this game as simply one in a series of possibly seven, with a berth the Stanley Cup finals on the line.
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
An epic playoff series needs a memorable contest to start earning that definition, and Game 2 of the Western Conference finals took care of that. The unheralded Marcus Kruger applied the dramatic ending.
A fourth-line grinder and penalty-killer by trade, Kruger put in a loose puck at 16:12 of the third overtime to cap the longest game in the 21-year-old history of Honda Center and lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Ducks and even the best-of-7 series.
An overflow crowd of 17,234 mostly decked in the Ducks' orange, black and white colors was left stunned when Kruger sent Chicago home with a series split, batting the puck past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen after Andersen didn't make a clean stick save on a point shot by defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Kruger had just seven goals during the regular season and his other score in these playoffs came in Game 1 of the Blackhawks' second-round sweep of Minnesota. The checking center put himself in position for the winner, pulling his team even heading into Game 3 on Thursday in Chicago.
Watch the game highlights below...
The game starts around 9:15pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.,
The Ducks want to head to Chicago up 2-0 while the Blackhawks want to grab home ice advantage.
Feel free to discuss the game.
from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,
The Blackhawks’ problem in Game 1 of the Western Conference final was a familiar one — the goalie was better than they were. And the solution is as old as hockey itself.
“I think we have to work for [goals],” captain Jonathan Toews said prior to Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. “We’re going to have to play harder around the net and I think as everyone says, it’s always about traffic. It’s about making things difficult for a goaltender to see.”
As Toews noted, the Hawks have faced hot goaltenders many times in the playoffs and figured a way to get the job done. In the 2013 Western Conference final, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick came in off a big series against the Sharks — a 1.43 goals-against average and .951 save percentage. By the second period of Game 2 against the Hawks, Quick was on the bench after allowing four goals on 17 shots. The Hawks won the series in five games.
They did the same to the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask in the final (16 goals in six games) that year. And they just beat two of the three Vezina Trophy finalists (the Predators’ Pekka Rinne and the Wild’s Devan Dubnyk) to reach this year’s conference final.
So after the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen stymied the Hawks in a 4-1 Anaheim victory in Game 1 on Sunday, the Hawks went to their default solution: net-front presence.
It’s clear that Quenneville will try to stretch his top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson as far as he can, but they need some help if they’re going to survive this series. The Ducks drove Chicago’s defensemen into the boards at every opportunity in Game 1, with Hjalmarsson alone being targeted nine times. The toll was clear every time they skated back to the bench.
-Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated where you can read more on this plus other hockey topics...
Corey Hirsch of Sportsnet feels the same way...
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Maybe it's because the Ducks don't have a dominant, minutes-gobbling defenseman like two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith of Chicago, tireless Ryan Suter of Minnesota, or Norris finalist Drew Doughty of the Kings that their defense corps hasn't gotten much respect.
Hampus Lindholm has the potential to become that kind of stud defenseman someday soon, but the Ducks don't have the equivalent of Keith, who is averaging a remarkable 30 minutes and 25 seconds of ice time per game. For now, the Ducks' strength is the balance they've built among their three pairs in terms of style and ice time.
"We don't get overloaded with minutes," said Francois Beauchemin, the team leader at an average of 23:50. "Guys don't get tired, like when you log 29, 30 minutes a game."
Once, Beauchemin routinely logged high totals. When the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, their defense featured Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer and future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger, but Beauchemin led them with an average of 30:33. Pronger played 30:11 and Niedermayer averaged 29:51. "I was young, and I was able to take it easy," Beauchemin said, smiling.
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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