Kukla's Korner Hockey
The National Hockey League today announced the dates for the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Finals, which begin in the Western Conference on Sunday, May 17 when the Detroit Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks. The Eastern Conference Final will match the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Carolina Hurricanes and will start on Monday, May 18.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Late in the Blackhawks’ victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night, fans at the United Center started a derisive chant about the Detroit Red Wings.
They are going to get their chance to continue it as the Wings advanced to the conference finals with a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of their semifinal series Thursday night….
“Detroit is arguably the best team in the league,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Coming off winning the Cup they know what it’s like to win and play in big games. They have several high-end offensive guys. They have maybe the best player in the league in [ Nicklas] Lidstrom on the back end. They’re strong and very explosive. Seems like every game we played them this year there were a lot of goals scored. There’s a lot to be concerned with.”
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Where does it begin with the Blackhawks, who have turned it around in one season? Was it when they replaced head coach Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville only four games into the season? The only thing wrong with that decision was that it should have been made during the offseason to avoid embarrassing Savard, one of Chicago’s truly great stars as a player.
How much did the hiring of a chap named Scotty Bowman as a consultant help? My guess is his counsel contributed greatly.
Scotty always has been very good at avoiding the spotlight when he isn’t the guy in charge, but he’s a wise old bird who always has been free with his opinion on all matters, even when it isn’t sought. The camera caught him often during the series with Vancouver sitting in a private box alongside Chicago GM Dale Tallon, and you can be sure the latter’s ears were left ringing after every game.
from Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated,
Is it a reach, however, to see this team in the Stanley Cup Final?
Kane is healthy after an ankle sprain slowed him in the second half of the regular season. His quickness and darting capabilities are back in full force, as evidenced by his Game 6 performance for the ages. Beyond the goal scoring, though, the Blackhawks have shown a resilient nature and the ability to win in a variety of ways. As a group, they push back when pushed physically. On the blueline, they have the mobility that teams covet in today’s game. Plus, the Blackhawks have veteran goaltender Nik Khabibulin backing them up. For all of their youthful ways, they have experience where it’s needed most.
Chicago, IL (May 12, 2009) – Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most comprehensive Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage in HD, delivered its highest Blackhawks rating ever last evening (May 11)—a 7.82 household rating for its live coverage of the Blackhawks Game 6 second round clinching victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
from Damien Cox of the Spin at the Toronto Star,
ll the negative stories in the world - the corporate brawl over the Phoenix Coyotes, the absurd non-suspension of Carolina’s Scott Walker - couldn’t obscure the fact that two games Monday night, the Canucks-Hawks thriller and the OT contest between Washington and Pittsburgh, delivered as much of everything as a hockey fan could want.
You can take your 1-0 and 2-1 games if you want them. Me, the 5-4 Caps win and the 7-5 Chicago triumph represented hockey at its best, a terrific combination of skill, hitting and passion that produced an entertainment package that no other sport could match if the NHL could ever find a way to deliver it on a consistent basis.
It’s the greatest game on earth, particularly when it’s allowed to be.
We’ll leave the Caps and Pens for now since there’s another game in that series to be played. Chicago, meanwhile, roared back from a 4-3 third period deficit and in so doing obliterated the myth of Roberto Luongo for now, if not for good.
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune,
“At the end of the game, the last five minutes, I’ve never been in a building that I’ve heard so loud,” said Adam Burish, who scored a third-period goal. “I’ve been to concerts, sporting events—there’s nothing I’ve experienced as loud as that.
“We couldn’t hear what coach (Joel Quenneville) was saying. Guys were relaying it. It was like a game of telephone on the bench. Guys were relaying what he was saying all the way down the bench. There was a time when they were playing some kind of loud rock music. You couldn’t even hear what song was playing. It was pretty cool.”
The Hawks are going to the conference finals for the first time since 1995, and it’s hard to overstate what that means for a franchise that was all but dead until the last few seasons. But suddenly, on the wings of a young roster and a marketing plan that brought the franchise into the 20th Century (yes, I know it’s the 21st), the Hawks will soon be one of the four teams left in the NHL playoffs.
Lead by the youngsters Patrick Kane (3 goals) and Jonathan Toews (2 goals), the Blackhawks defeat the Vancouver Canucks 7-5.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Hours before his Vancouver Canucks enter the pressure cooker of an elimination game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, head coach Alain Vigneault continued to place the burden on his top players like goalie Roberto Luongo, forwards Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows to perform better against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
Vigneault remarked on Sunday before his team flew to Chicago for game six of the second-round series, in which the Blackhawks lead 3-2 after a 4-2 victory in Vancouver on Saturday evening, that Burrows is “not himself” and “he’s got nothing.”
Burrows stated today that Vigneault hasn’t conveyed those sentiments face-to-face, but Vigneault wasn’t backing down before the critical game.
“He’s one of them obviously,” said Vigneault, when queried as to whether Burrows needs to step up his play. “I haven’t put the list in order. There still is time for them to find another level.”
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
“He could play linebacker for the Bears,” teammate Colin Fraser said, and he was quite serious.
At somewhere upwards of 6-foot-3, 250 or 260 pounds, “Big Buff” always has had a big body, plus some big dreams. But a goal-scoring touch was lacking. Until May 9, that is, when he scored twice to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-2 victory in Vancouver in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
“The thing about ‘Buff’ is that he’s not just a big guy,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “He has a heavy shot, skates well and is blessed with good hands. He’s got the potential to be a dominating power forward. One of those X-factor-type players everyone dreams of having.”
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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