Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Last season’s run to the conference finals, a 4-games-to-1 elimination by the Red Wings, is cemented in my mind by one image: Detroit lug Johan Franzen taking the mouthguard directly out of the teeth of the frail, underaged Kane and throwing it to the ice.
Oh, it’s early. Way early.
But seven more wins and the Hawks can make all that bad stuff disappear.
more and if you need a refresher on the image mentioned above, watch it below…
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosnBlog at the Chicago Tribune,
If the kid netminder ever was going to crack, this would’ve been the game and this would’ve been the period in perhaps the league’s loudest building. But the unflappable Niemi said no.
And now the Hawks have won six straight playoff games on the road, surviving then thriving. This is what great teams do. This is what good teams growing into greatness do.
added 8:14pm, from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Taking a step back and looking at the aesthetic value of Game 1, we appear to be in store for quite a series. How often do you see both teams with 40 or more shots in regulation ... in a playoff game? The game had an electric pace, with two heavyweight contenders slugging it out.
“It was intense. Yeah, it was fast. I think that was one of the fastest we’ve seen,” said Keith. “The Sharks have a lot of guys who can skate and move the puck.”
The question many had entering this series was whether the Sharks could keep up with the Hawks. The answer from Game 1 was an unequivocal yes. Now, the question is, can the Sharks solve Niemi?
Puck drops just after 3:00pm ET and can be viewed on NBC, TSN or RDS.
Should be an entertaining opening game and I say high scoring too.
from Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News,
They have the marquee players, the marquee opponent, the painful playoff history and the big stage all but cleared for them.
Basically, this meeting with Chicago is the series the Sharks and their fans have always wanted and needed.
It’s a threshold moment for the franchise, multiplied by 100, starting with today’s Game 1 at HP Pavilion.
And now, with the East mostly wiped clean of headliners, this highly anticipated Western Conference finals is the series the NHL needs (for ratings and attention), too.
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are done. So, yes, the Sharks and Blackhawks inherit the spotlight.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
• Keep an eye on Chicago defenseman/puck-pusher Brian Campbell in the Sharks-Hawks series. He has six years left on a deal that carries a $7.14 million cap hit. By no means an easy deal to shake. But with Bruins goalie Tim Thomas carrying a $5 million cap hit for three more years, and Tuukka Rask now distinctly the No. 1, a Campbell-Thomas exchange is something the sides might explore around the June draft. Campbell, by the way, turns 31 Sunday.
• With five weeks to go before the draft, the Lightning still don’t have a CEO or GM, which could mean Jim Hammett (player personnel director) and Darryl Plandowski (head amateur scout) would make the call on Tampa’s picks, including No. 6 overall.
more hockey topics…
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune,
It has been fun. But really all the Hawks have done to this point is prove they can run in place adequately. They have returned to the spot this whole challenge started, the Western Conference finals, where a year ago they were surprise participants and now they cannot settle for just being here.
They didn’t invest millions in signing free agents Hossa and John Madden so they could win two playoff series again. They didn’t restructure the front office, dumping general manager Dale Tallon to make way for Stan Bowman, to stand still as an organization. They didn’t take an aggressive approach to the offseason so they could accept another fourth-place finish.
As satisfying as this all has been so far, history’s not impressed yet. Until we see what happens in the next two weeks, Chicago won’t be sure of whether it wants to treasure memories of this season or trash them.
It will require more focus, more skill, more strength, more luck and more everything from the Hawks to prevent this year from being categorized as a disappointment. That’s how success has changed the Hawks.
from Lucas Aykroyd at IIHF.com,
It’s looking more likely than ever that this year, for just the third time in history, a European goalie will backstop his NHL team to the Stanley Cup. The two previous examples were the Czech Republic’s Dominik Hasek (Detroit, 2002) and Russia’s Nikolai Khabibulin (Tampa Bay, 2004).
In 2010, three of the NHL teams that moved on to the conference finals have European starters. The lone exception is the Philadelphia Flyers, who eliminated the Boston Bruins and their Finnish starter Tuukka Rask on Friday in a stunning rally from a 3-0 series deficit.
Unquestionably, the best individual performance put on by any netminder in the 2010 playoffs has been that of Jaroslav Halak. Slovakia’s Olympic starter shocked the world by helping his eight-seeded Montreal Canadiens knock off the league-leading Washington Capitals in a seven-game first-round series. Halak (2.42 GAA, 93.3 save percentage) then compounded the shock by doing the same against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Round Two.
from Paul Hoogkamp of TSN,
The Chicago Blackhawks may be in the midst of the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL, but it has also been more than a few years since the other three teams in the Conference Finals have enjoyed an up-close look at hockey’s Holy Grail.
The Blackhawks have not won since 1961, a stretch six years longer than that of the playoff-challenged Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Philadelphia Flyers changed the face of hockey and their opponents, using intimidation to win the Cup way back in 1975.
It’s been 17 years since the Montreal Canadiens had a parade down Rue Ste.-Catherine, which is an eternity for the most storied franchise in the league.
And while the San Jose Sharks have yet to win the Cup since joining the NHL in 1991, with recent playoff failures, some feel the organization is overdue to win their first title.
Will we see a repeat of the 1973 Stanley Cup Final when Montreal, coached by Scotty Bowman defeated Chicago 4 games to 2?
I am old school and it is time for an Original Six Final, the first since 1979 when the Canadiens defeated the Rangers.
So, that is my pick for the SCF, what about you?
National rightsholders NBC and VERSUS in the United States and CBC, TSN and RDS in Canada will provide exclusive national broadcast coverage of the Conference Finals. Every playoff game also can be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Date Time (ET) #1 San Jose vs. #2 Chicago Network
Sunday, May 16 3:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose NBC, TSN, RDS
Tuesday, May 18 10:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Friday, May 21 8:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Sunday, May 23 3:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 25 * 9:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, May 27 * 8:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Saturday, May 29 * 8:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, CBC, RDS
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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