Kukla's Korner Hockey
Also, pre-game notes from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
I probably shouldn’t be this frustrated so early in the series, but Chicago really seemed to be chasing Detroit in Game 1. I think if the Blackhawks hope to advance, they need to play with a more aggressive forecheck. They need to hit Detroit’s defense (especially Nick Lidstrom) whenever they touch the puck. Make them pay a physical price and tire them out. Your thoughts?
—Donovan Duplasey, Wisconsin
I suspect that every team that has played these Red Wings has at one time or another has thought that tenderizing Lidstrom was the key to beating them. Count the rings on his fingers and you can surmise that it’s easier said than done.
That’s the beauty of having guys like Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski on your back end. If the opposition sits back a bit, they’ve got the legs to lug the puck up the ice. If the opposition tries an aggressive forecheck, well, one quick transitional pass later the Wings are enjoying an odd-man rush. The Hawks saw enough of those on Sunday to know they don’t want to play that kind of game again….
continued plus more hockey questions answered…
from Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times,
This is my hope for tonight: That the Blackhawks remember what got them to the Western Conference finals. Fearless play. Depth and talent. Resiliency. Confidence. The Hawks seemed to forget all that Sunday. They played too tentatively for much of the game, as if they were in awe of the Red Wings. I want to see them attack the Wings tonight. I want to seem them play with the confidence that got them this far.
Since Sunday’s loss, we’ve heard a lot about how great the Red Wings are. Suddenly, the Wings are unbeatable, a perfect team. And if the Hawks make so much as one mistake against them, they’re doomed. Crazy talk. Some perspective, please. The Wings weren’t even the best team in the conference this season. And they needed seven games to get past the no-longer-mighty Ducks.
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosenBlog at the Chicago Tribune,
I have an idea. My plan even follows the John McDonough Ten Commandments, all of which are Thou Shalt Market Everything. So, if we’re going to stick with “One Goal,’’ then make it this: “Hit Nick.’’
As in Nicklas Lidstrom.
More than getting the Zetterberg line out against the Toews line, the Wings want to match up with Norris Trophy hog Lidstrom and speedy but small Brian Rafalski (fits neatly into the overhead compartment). OK. Fine. Then make them pay for it. You have to take an opponent’s strength and make it a weakness.
So, as much as it goes against the talented, creative instincts of Kane and Toews, they need to chip the puck deep, specifically into Lidstrom’s corner. Make him turn around. Make him face the glass. Make him carry the puck so they can hit him.
The Hawks need to punish Slick Nick. He is too cool for the room. A living instructional DVD. The prized piece in the Wings’ traveling Hall-of-Fame exhibit. Lidstrom is everything Duncan Keith ought to want to be when he grows up.
via Tim Sassone of Between The Circles at the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Spent a lot of time Monday around the Red Wings and you come away so impressed with how these guys handle themselves. They are pros, through and through, and it starts with Nicklas Lidstrom, the best leader in the game.
Then you walk down the hall to the Hawks’ dressing room and you get the same feeling. These guys are mostly kids, but they handle themselves in the same professional manner as the Red Wings. That’s why this is a special team, folks. These kids get it and it starts with Jonathan Toews, who already had a Lidstrom-like presence in his room.
Toews is there every day, as captain and spokesman, answering wave after wave of questions from reporters like he’s been doing it 10 years.
In the end, the Hawks might get more out of this series, even if they lose, than they did from beating Calgary and Vancouver. The Hawks want to be the Wings, and they’re going to be someday with a few tweaks here and there. Mark my words.
Q. Before we get to X’s and O’s on the series, your thoughts on Patrick Roy being offered the Colorado Avalanche job?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think it’s speculation. I don’t really want to touch that story. So we’ll see. I don’t want to talk about innuendo and speculation.
Q. Do you think a lot of adjustments need to be made by your team in Game 2 or do what you do better?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think we got to do things better. You know, some things we’ll look at to maybe tweak a little bit along the way. But I still think we got to be—the pace of our game’s got to be consistent and stronger, and we got to be harder in the puck area.
George of SnapShots at Mlive posted the off-day press conference with Mike Babcock today…
Q. How much do you think the maturity factor plays into it at this time of year? It came up last year against Pittsburgh.
MIKE BABCOCK: Did it come up last year against Pittsburgh?
Q. We brought it up.
MIKE BABCOCK: So did that mean it actually happened?
Q. Well, I thought that throughout the course of the series, your experience came through.
MIKE BABCOCK: How do you tell that?
Q. I thought you guys weren’t as panicky with the puck as they were.
MIKE BABCOCK: Okay.
read the whole transcipt…
from Al Cimaglia at ESPN,
I am not sure why some had the notion the Blackhawks were going to overwhelm the Red Wings with their speed. Detroit has a very good skating club—as does Chicago, but no team skates faster than the puck can travel. The Red Wings are an older group, but age doesn’t prevent them from passing the puck as well or better than any other team in the NHL.
Much of the Wings’ fast play starts from their defensive zone. Same with the Hawks. The Wings were able to get out of their defensive zone more efficiently on Sunday and then moved the puck through the neutral zone quickly. Detroit won the battle between the bluelines as the Hawks could not gain speed for their attack during most of the game.
Another false impression in my view is the Hawks played the Wings’ style. Both teams want a fast pace and strive to control the puck. They have similar styles. In fact, the Wings played the Blackhawks’ style better than the Hawks. Detroit managed the puck, especially near the bluelines better than the Hawks.
via Puck The Media,
NBC’s coverage of Game 1 of the Detroit/Chicago series drew a 2.0/5 on Sunday. That rating marks the best ever rating for an NHL On NBC broadcast, excluding obviously the Stanley Cup Finals and Winter Classic.
Steve at PTM hopes to have local numbers later today, so check back for those.
added 1:18pm, The local numbers are in for Chicago and Detroit. People were watching in Detroit and Chicago. See the numbers by clicking the above link.
“They got a nice hockey club and, as we sit here and watch them, we’re watching them grow. We can’t wait for them to get into cap trouble, to tell you the truth. When you’re young like (the Blackhawks), and players are playing for cheap, you can have an abundance. But pretty soon, they’re not playing for cheap, and then, that’ll help us out.”
Wings Coach Mike Babcock on WDFN this morning. Listen to the interview at Mlive.
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