Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune,
Still searching for an explanation for the Game 1 disappointment? Maybe the Hawks were simply overmatched.
“I don’t think we looked overmatched at all,” Seabrook said. “I think they’re a great team, and they come with a lot of speed. We had our chances too.”
Speed is supposed to be the Hawks’ advantage, and we’ll take it on faith that it eventually will show itself in this series. But speed doesn’t mean anything if you cough up the puck.
The Red Wings looked tired in Game 7 of their conference semifinal against Anaheim. But on Sunday, as Seabrook put it, “they kept coming, they kept coming and kept coming.”
They did indeed, and let it be a lesson to these baby-faced Hawks that the great teams know how and when to turn it on.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Game 1 of the Western Conference finals looked awfully familiar.
It reminded us of the first two games the young Pittsburgh Penguins played in Detroit last June in the Stanley Cup finals. The Pens never touched the puck and wondered what had just hit them. By the time they recovered in the series, it was too little, too late.
The Detroit Red Wings delivered that same lesson Sunday, controlling large stretches of the afternoon in a dominating 5-2 victory over the young Chicago Blackhawks.
The class in question Sunday was Puck Possession 101, a course the Red Wings have taught many times to the rest of the league.
“Welcome to the Western Conference finals, kids,” the Wings seemingly said loud and clear Sunday. “Did we tell you this was our eighth trip here in 14 seasons and third in a row?
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Adam Burish knew immediately there was a problem.
“I saw his skate come right up my throat, and right away I grabbed my neck and said there’s something coming out here,” Burish said. “There were a couple drips, so I was pretty darn lucky.”
It was the second period, and Burish and linemate Ben Eager were forechecking in the Detroit zone when Eager and a Detroit player got tied up. Eager lost his balance and his skate flew up and clipped Burish in the throat.
It was a play reminiscent to the scary Richard Zednik incident last season, when Olli Jokinen’s skate blade sliced Zednik’s jugular vein.
But Burish was more fortunate; he skated away from Eager’s out-of-control skate knowing he was a lucky man.
“I don’t know how I’m so darn lucky,” Burish said. “It was centimeters, millimeters away from slicing (his throat).”
added 8:27pm, Video of the incident is included in the game hightlights from NBC via ESPN below. The skate to throat incident starts at the 45 second mark…
added 9:45pm, A 2nd video of the incident has been added below…
Q. Talk about the job that Dan did today.
MIKE BABCOCK: You know, obviously he’s playing with real good players, playing on a good line. They’re playing against important people in the game.
I thought we were in trouble really off the start of the game, whether it was engagement, whether it was coming off a big series, whether it was not as much time, whatever, we weren’t very good, and they were taking it to us. They were up 1?0. He made a real good shot. Then I thought we settled in and got playing real well after that point. Any time you’re driving into the net, get your stick on a puck, that’s just a good hockey goal, a good playoff goal.
Q. Surprised at all at the quality of chances those guys were able to generate against Seabrook and Keith?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think both teams had a number of chances, high quality chances. We’ve got to be way better than that today. I didn’t like our game. We have to be - we got to play perfect hockey. Today we certainly, even though we were at 2-2 in the third, even though we probably would love to be there at that stage of the game, we’ve got to be better.
Q. Your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie. Can you talk about Nikolai’s play tonight.
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think our best penalty killing is going to be staying out of the box. They’re dangerous. He had a couple key saves there in the second, held us in the game.
But I think their power play has so many looks and weapons on it that trying to stay out of the box, but certainly we’re going to need our goaltender to make some key saves, and he did there today.
Wings defeat the Blackhawks 5-2 as Cleary, Franzen and Zetterberg dominate.
added 5:52pm, Post-game… Chris, how did you guys shutdown Toews? Ozzie: Uh, that was Nick.
added 6:23pm, Video hightlights of game 1 below…
added 6:45pm, from Jason Kay of The Hockey News,
Move over Sid vs. Ovie, we may just have a new best playoff series of 2009.
The anticipation for the Detroit-Chicago Western Conference final was offense-on-offense; the No. 1 goal-scoring team in the regular season (Wings) against the No. 4 (Chicago).
Toss in Detroit’s 19th-ranked defense and a Chicago goalie in Nikolai Khabibulin who sported an .897 save percentage in this year’s playoffs, and the expectation was a smorgasbord of excitement.
And despite the teams combining for a relatively tame seven tallies (it could have easily been double), that’s exactly what we got.
With the conference finals set to start Sunday, our experts ponder what lies ahead. ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun and ESPN The Magazine’s E.J. Hradek answer these 10 burning questions:
There have been a few controversial calls/noncalls in the first two rounds. How would you rate the officiating in the playoffs so far?
Burnside: I think there are always going to be complaints about officiating given the personalities of the teams and the officials involved, so I’m not troubled by what I see in terms of in-game calls. What still boggles the mind is how often the NHL makes itself look cartoonish by failing to even enforce its own rules, as was the case when league officials decided not to suspend Game 7 overtime hero Scott Walker for sucker-punching Aaron Ward earlier in the Carolina/Boston series. Unbelievable.
Hradek: I’m not big on beating up the refs. I think they have an incredibly tough job. On the ice, things are happening so fast and they don’t get a second look (usually). On the whole, they have done a very good job. Do they get every call right? No. But I think they officiate their sport better than what we see in the NFL, NBA and MLB.
LeBrun: I think it’s been decent. People get upset because there’s so much on the line and they believe their team is getting slighted, but obviously there’s no such thing….
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune,
The Red Wings won the Wrigley game 6-4, and they looked like men playing against boys. But the boys have matured. They’re different than they were in January. They’re better and tougher. They won the last two meetings between the two teams after losing four straight….
Let’s not kid anyone. The Red Wings are the defending champions. They’re experienced, and they’ve seen everything there is to see. They rarely make mistakes. And they’re tough too.
Other than that, the Hawks have the Red Wings right where they want them.
But Detroit looked tired at the end of its seven-game series Thursday night against Anaheim.
The Hawks’ legs might be a little fresher.
The Red Wings don’t appear too concerned about it.
Quenneville, Kane, Toews, Campbell and Seabrook met with the media today…
Q. We were talking a little bit earlier with some of the Wings and Mike about the youthful exuberance of your team. Dan Cleary said it could be very dangerous, they’re playing with a lot of confidence. Can you talk about the comparison of the youth versus experience in this series and who it might favor.
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: Well, I’m not going to predict favoritism. Certainly we liked the experience we gained in the first two rounds. We didn’t know how we were going to handle the playoffs for a first time for a lot of the guys. I thought we were on?the?job training every day, gaining experience, preparing in different situations in games, coming out of games, trying to find out how to close out a series. I thought both times we handled those assignments very well.
But I just think as we go into games, the excitement and enthusiasm on our team has been real. We’re getting a lot of good contributions from across the board whether they’re young guys or older guys. The guys are excited about this challenge and this opportunity. Should make for a great series.
Lyle Richardson, Fox Sports contributor, breaks down both conference finals series in audio format. First up, Detroit/Chicago then Pittsburgh/Carolina.
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