Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
He casts a wide-bodied presence — a lunar eclipse on skates when he gets set up in front of the net — for a team that understands the best way to make Luongo look mortal is to block his view at every turn. And if a guy occasionally loses an edge and accidentally-on-purpose goes crashing into the goalie, well, that’s good for business — Blackhawks business, that is.
“I’m there, I’m there,” said Byfuglien, when asked if he’s in the heads of Vancouver players. “But it’s been good. It’s been fun. I’m just doing my job and playing the way I can.”
“He’s a big body,” ventured Bieksa, following Canucks practice yesterday at the United Center. “He’s played well for them, obviously. Last game, he played well. He gets in on the fore-check, he finishes his hit. He’s a big body in front of Louie.
“But it’s more about us worrying about ourselves right now than us worrying about them.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks have more than a few issues to deal with as their second-round series lands in the Windy City. But job No. 1 is defending those killer stretch passes that have exposed their blueline.
David Bolland’s shorthanded goal Saturday night was simply the most glaring example of that play, but the Blackhawks have used the long bomb to ignite their attack throughout the first two games.
It’s confusing the Canucks’ coverage. It’s putting Roberto Luongo under considerable duress. And it’s completely negating the Canucks’ forecheck.
Here’s the result. Aside from a 30-minute span from the 10-minute mark of the first period to the end of the second period in Game 1, the Hawks have dominated this series to an alarming degree. The Canucks now have to prove they can play at their speed or slow them down to their own. Either way, the challenge is formidable.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Ever since their three-goal explosion in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night, the Hawks have been the faster, stronger and more physical of the teams, and they have seized home-ice advantage in the series with three of the possible five remaining games scheduled at the UC.
After winning all three home games in front of roaring crowds during their first-round series with Calgary, the Hawks are pleased to be setting up shop once again on West Madison Street.
“It’s all about coming out hard and flying and using that energy in our own building,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We have an opportunity here, so we have to go out there and take advantage of it.”
The most shocking aspect of the two games in Vancouver was the Hawks’ ability to put pucks past Canucks star goaltender Roberto Luongo. The veteran netminder has yielded eight goals during the first two games after giving up just five in Vancouver’s four-game sweep of St. Louis in the first round.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
...The rest of the story is how Quenneville, five years ago at this time, had just been fired from his first NHL head-coaching job and had been chosen to coach Canada at the World Hockey Championships in Prague.
The trip began with an exhibition game in Budapest, Hungary, where he called the Czech Republic “Czechoslovakia” and made a few other minor international hockey gaffes at a press conference where he clearly did not look comfortable.
In a mixed zone with myself and two other Canadian scribes in Prague he was very upset before excusing himself after about two minutes. He ended up in hospital that night where he stayed for two days before being sent home after having suffered a mental breakdown, leaving assistant coach Mike Babcock to take over and coach the team to a gold medal.
It was explained that he’d never been to Europe before, couldn’t sleep and combined with coaching Canada on the big ice in a foreign environment, was overwhelmed by the stress.
“It was stress, but it was job-to-job stress,” he said in a one-on-one interview with Sun Media, agreeing to speak to a subject he’s avoided speaking to before.
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
They made Roberto Luongo, by and large, look ordinary in the Vancouver net, and at even strength controlled the tempo. Their defencemen fearlessly ventured deep into Canucks territory or fired long stretch passes through the neutral zone. Their forwards won all of the small races for the puck, and made Vancouver seem a bit tentative, a bit slow, back on their heels, reacting.
The really striking part, though, was the Blackhawks’ poise.
Young teams, with the bulk of their roster dipping a toe for the first time into the postseason, are supposed to be at least a little bit intimidated, and franchises that make great leaps forward during the regular season often fall back in the playoffs.
But as the folks in Calgary already know all too well, this is a special group of Hawks, apparently not the least bit shaken by the situation or by unfriendly surroundings.
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles at the Chicago Daily-Herald,
The more you see the Vancouver defense, the more ordinary it looks. And now the Canucks might be without defenseman Samu Salo, who apparently hurt his back scoring his power-play goal two minutes into the first period. Salo left the game and never returned.
Kevin Bieksa acts all tough, but Dustin Byfuglien blew by him much of the night like he was one of those orange practice cones.
added 11:59pm, The Versus version of the save can be watched below…
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
In Game 1 against the Canucks, the lessons included the importance of staying out of the penalty box and the knowledge that Vancouver’s star goaltender Roberto Luongo can be beaten. The Hawks scored three times in the third period against Luongo, a furious comeback that fell short when Sami Salo took advantage of a defensive miscue and won it for Vancouver with just over a minute remaining.
Now the Hawks look ahead to Game 2 on Saturday night at General Motors Place with a better understanding of what they must do to bring the series to Chicago tied at one game apiece.
Lesson No. 1: limit penalties.
The Hawks spent much of Thursday’s first period killing three penalties, including a four-minute double-minor, high-sticking infraction against Andrew Ladd.
“We have to stay out of the box,” Ladd said. “It killed most of our momentum at the start of the game. Confidence in terms of knowing how we need to play and what we need to do to be successful against these guys can help going forward.”
from Steve Rosenbloom of Rosen Blog at the Chicago Tribune,
One line of hockey thinking is that the first game of a series is the easiest to win because teams don’t hate each other like they will.
This should’ve favored the Blackhawks in their second-round deal with Vancouver that began Thursday. If they could steal a road game, they would take the home-ice advantage they rightfully deserved after finishing the regular season with more points than the Canucks.
It also should’ve favored the Hawks because they blew into British Columbia with momentum from a big road win in Calgary that closed out the Flames and were facing a team that had been off for more than a week after sweeping St. Louis.
And look at that, the Hawks got a power play two minutes into the game. A chance to take a lead, get a jump on stealing home-ice, and punish a team that wants to hit them the way Calgary did.
So much for that.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
What kind of shape is Mats Sundin really in?
Well, we’re about to find out.
“He’s a target,” promised agitating Chicago Blackhawks winger Adam Burish. “If you asked him, he’d know he has a target on his back.”...
“They’ve got to understand that they’re going to have earn their space,” said Burish, fresh off of driving Jarome Iginla to distraction in Chicago’s six-game victory over Calgary in Round 1. “They have to earn every inch of ice.”
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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