Kukla's Korner Hockey
Red Wings will win if... They can stay out of the penalty box. Killing penalties has been a rare Achilles’ heel all season—Detroit was 25th during the regular season at 78.3 percent and has only seen that number get worse as the calendar inches toward June. The quickest way for the Wings to fall behind in this series will be to give the potent Hawks’ offense a bushel of power-play chances on which to unleash their young talent.
Blackhawks will win if... They continue to play fast and work the transition to their advantage. While that may be a tough chore against Detroit, there is something special about this group, particularly on home ice where they are 5-1 in the postseason. The Hawks forced both the Flames and Canucks to play their style of game and it would certainly work to their advantage to force the Red Wings to do the same.
Penguins will win if... Pittsburgh will win if: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin create matchup problems for the Hurricanes. Let’s face it, these two make it a tough road to hoe for any team. If they get into a game of “Can you top this?” the Penguins will be tough to stop.
Hurricanes will win if... Cam Ward is the best player in this series. The Hurricanes love to play low-scoring, tight games in the playoffs. Paul Maurice calls it being comfortable in the grind, but basically, the Hurricanes want to keep games close so they can stay in their system and exert mental pressure on an opponent, waiting to exploit whatever cracks appear. To do that against the explosive Penguins, Ward will have to be at the very top of his game.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews participated in a NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Could both of you touch on how Coach Quenneville has helped in your development?
PATRICK KANE: For me, I think obviously with Savard, you can make mistakes, and he’ll draw you right back there on the ice. With Joel, if you take a dumb penalty or make a couple mistakes, he’s not afraid to sit you down and things like that. He makes every shift worth it out there for you. He’s been great. I think he’s come in and done a great job for a lot of us, helped a lot of us enjoy it.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I feel the same way. He definitely expects reliability and smart team play from every player on the ice, doesn’t matter who you are. You know, I think that’s why we’ve been such a good team this year, you know, the ice team is spread out and everyone does their part. Everyone plays the same way and everyone has their role.
You know, he definitely has a lot of discipline over the players. Guys have a lot of respect for him in the locker room. You learn to play the team game with him, for sure.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We should know better by now than to underestimate the young bucks from Chicago (we picked Vancouver in seven), but this isn’t about shortchanging them. This is about two greatly talented teams being separated only by experience. The young Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s took down the veteran New York Islanders in their second crack at it. This is Chicago’s first crack at the Big Red Machine. Wings in seven.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
This one is going to be a ton of fun to watch; but, in the end, the Canes don’t have an adequate answer for Crosby and Malkin. As long as Fleury doesn’t completely lose his mind, the Pens should be able to dictate how things go in this one. Penguins in six.
much more on this series too…
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.
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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