Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
This was the player the Chicago Blackhawks figured they’d be getting when they gave up a first-round pick and a prospect before the trade deadline.
Antoine Vermette struggled mightily after being dealt to the Blackhawks, even getting scratched three times earlier in these playoffs. But with three game-winning goals in the two most important rounds of the playoffs, the gamble will have been well worth it for the Blackhawks.
"He's got better every game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday night’s 2-1 win put his team on the brink of a third Cup in six years. "I thought he had a great game tonight. Very timely goal. Big faceoff wins. Both zones tonight. Lot of wins. Positionally aware. Battled."
It’s the player the Arizona Coyotes knew for years. They were probably more surprised than anyone when Vermette looked so lost in his early weeks in Chicago. And you know that Quenneville would have got quite the scouting report from his old Hartford Whalers teammate and friend Dave Tippett, who loved coaching Vermette for the past four seasons in Arizona.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Thanks to Vermette’s winning goal early in the third period of Chicago’s 2-1 victory over the host Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday in Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup final, the Hawks are now up 3-2 in the series.
More importantly, Chicago can now close things out on Monday night in Game 6 with a victory at the United Center, arguably the loudest building in hockey, if not in all of sports.
The Hawks Stanley Cup-clinching wins in both 2010 and 2013 came on the road, so their crazed fans did not have a chance to be on hand to see their hockey heroes raise the Stanley Cup.
They’ll have that opportunity now.
“(Since I’ve been here) we’ve never been in this spot before,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I’m sure the town will be crazy.
“The buzz will be off the charts.”
Flipping through the history books, the Hawks have not won the NHL title on home ice since 1938, a span of 77 years.
At that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president of the United States, William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada’s Prime Minister, Hank Greenberg led the majors in home runs with 58 and Mike Karakas was the goalie who led those Hawks to the Cup.
Now, almost eight full decades later, just thinking of how electric the always emotional national anthem will be at the United Center Monday is enough to send shivers up the spine of any player.
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
Dreams of capturing silver took on a tarnished feel for the Lightning.
Despite the return of goaltender Ben Bishop to the net, Tampa Bay’s offense again came up dry in a 2-1 loss to Chicago in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Chicago on Monday.
For just the second time this postseason Tampa Bay has dropped consecutive games and will need to avoid the first three-game losing streak of the season to force a decisive Game 7 back in Tampa on Wednesday.
Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning goal early in the third period to break a 1-1 tie as Corey Crawford made it stand up, finishing with 31 saves to help bring Chicago to the brink of winning a third Stanley Cup in a six-year span, and the chance to do it on home ice for the first time since 1938.
Bishop, a question mark to start the game after he missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, finished with 27 saves but his costly decision to come out to the circles to try to play a puck led to Chicago’s opening goal after he collided with teammate Victor Hedman allowing Patrick Sharp to skate in alone for an empty net goal at 6:11 of the first period.
“That’s the difference in the game,’’ Bishop said. “You obviously don’t want to make those mistakes at this stage of the game, but it happened and that’s unfortunate. The puck came off the boards there and I thought I could hit (Steven Stamkos), kind of made eye contact with him and Heddy didn’t see me, obviously. They were changing and I thought I could catch (Stamkos) up there. Maybe it was a little too far to venture but it’s just unfortunate we ran into each other.’’
Watch Sportsnet's Game 5 Mashup below...
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
We’re so eager to use the word “dynasty.” Too eager. Entering the Stanley Cup Final, some actually anointed the Tampa Bay Lightning as a potential dynasty, even though this group hadn’t won one championship, let alone two.
But here are the Chicago Blackhawks, one win from earning the title – or at least redefining it for the modern era. With a 2-1 victory Saturday night, they took a 3-2 series lead. They can win their third Cup in six years on Monday night in Chicago.
“We understand,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, “how unique this group is and how unique this chance is.”
No, the Blackhawks are not the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s. They are not the New York Islanders or Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.
But this is not the NHL of those days, either. This is the NHL of the salary cap, a league of parity – a league so competitive that the Blackhawks’ biggest foils, the Los Angeles Kings, winners of two of the past three Cups, didn’t even make the playoffs this season.
Watch Game 5 highlights below...
Patrick Sharp with a gift.
added 8:57pm, NBC version is below...
The puck drops just after 8:00pm ET and is on NBC, CBC and TVA.
The series is tied 2-2 and after the game tonight, one team will be facing elimination in Game 6 on Monday night in Chicago.
I say the Bolts win tonight by at least two goals and your comments on the game will be gladly accepted.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
There have been 49 recipients of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP since the award was first handed out in 1965.
A defenseman has won the Conn Smythe only nine times. But another may be joining that elite club this year.
While there’s still time for Tyler Johnson or Jonathan Toews to have a couple of impactful games before the end of the Stanley Cup finals to help their MVP case, it is hard not to view blueliners Victor Hedman and Duncan Keith as the front-runners right now.
"You look at their consistency from the start of the playoffs up until now, I mean, that’s probably the biggest thing for those two guys," Hall of Fame blueliner Al MacInnis, the 1989 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, told ESPN.com on Friday. "You could probably build the case for three or four players on each team, but you look at those two guys, you look at their level of play, you look at their consistency, you look at their matchups, the impact they’ve had on games. I think it would be tough to slide by those two names."
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,m
Welcome to the 2015 Stanley Cup final, otherwise known as a Tale of Two Coaches.
In the Tampa corner, you have the personable Cooper, 47, who rubs shoulders with Charles Barkley, had his group’s tab picked up by actor Vince Vaughn at a Chicago steak joint last weekend, and carries with him a swagger that makes you realize just how comfortable he is in his own skin.
Quenneville, 56, is too, but in a far different way. A far nicer man than he gets credit for, especially behind the scenes, Coach Q, as some of the players call him, is far more no nonsense, a do-it-his-way-or-the-highway type who isn’t afraid to let his guys know if they aren’t performing up to par.
In that regard, both teams are reflections of their respective coaches.
The Lightning players are young, fast and, like Cooper, feel as if they can beat anyone.
Like Quenneville, the Hawks are battle-proven, determined, business-like and have established — thanks to Cups in 2010 and 13 — that they’ve already beaten anyone and everyone.
Up until now.
Now comes the real litmus test, at least where these playoffs are concerned.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The numbers are eerie. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks seem like twinsies in this Stanley Cup final.
Two wins apiece, nine goals apiece, a three-shot difference in pucks on goal, an eight-shot difference in attempts. The same number of blocks. A save percentage just three-hundredths of a point apart.
We’ve had no overtime games thus far but it pretty much feels that way for all 60 minutes, like one goal is going to mean everything. This is the first Cup final to open with four one-goal games since a Montreal sweep of St. Louis in 1968. And that was a sweep where the verdict was pretty much expected, not an up-for-grabs affair like this one.
As we head to Game Five on Saturday in Amalie Arena, here’s the stat I still can’t over: Through 240 minutes over four games, the score has either been tied or a one-goal differential for every second. Another one-goal result, guaranteed if we get our long-overdue first OT, will mark the first time all five games have been that tight since 1951.
At this point, little things become big things.
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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