Kukla's Korner Hockey
It’s clear that Quenneville will try to stretch his top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson as far as he can, but they need some help if they’re going to survive this series. The Ducks drove Chicago’s defensemen into the boards at every opportunity in Game 1, with Hjalmarsson alone being targeted nine times. The toll was clear every time they skated back to the bench.
-Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated where you can read more on this plus other hockey topics...
Corey Hirsch of Sportsnet feels the same way...
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Maybe it's because the Ducks don't have a dominant, minutes-gobbling defenseman like two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith of Chicago, tireless Ryan Suter of Minnesota, or Norris finalist Drew Doughty of the Kings that their defense corps hasn't gotten much respect.
Hampus Lindholm has the potential to become that kind of stud defenseman someday soon, but the Ducks don't have the equivalent of Keith, who is averaging a remarkable 30 minutes and 25 seconds of ice time per game. For now, the Ducks' strength is the balance they've built among their three pairs in terms of style and ice time.
"We don't get overloaded with minutes," said Francois Beauchemin, the team leader at an average of 23:50. "Guys don't get tired, like when you log 29, 30 minutes a game."
Once, Beauchemin routinely logged high totals. When the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, their defense featured Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer and future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger, but Beauchemin led them with an average of 30:33. Pronger played 30:11 and Niedermayer averaged 29:51. "I was young, and I was able to take it easy," Beauchemin said, smiling.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
There’s an old question about whether it’s better to be lucky or good, but the real question today is why do you have to make a choice at all?
It’s best, certainly, to be lucky and good, like Frederik Andersen and the Ducks were Sunday, which is largely why they beat Chicago, 4-1, in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Andersen stopped 31 of 32 shots from the Blackhawks, prompting his coach, Bruce Boudreau, to say afterward: “He was very good. Our goaltender was very good.”
But it was Andersen’s paddle that made the save of the game, foiling Chicago’s other shot on goal, during a first period that, had the breaks gone the other direction, could have been the reason the Blackhawks won Game 1.
Baseball has its seeing-eye single. Andersen has his seeing-eye stick, a device that Sunday briefly took the game into its own no hands.
Forced by the pressure into an extremely compromised position, Andersen tossed everything he had left – which is to say the only thing he had left – in front of an otherwise naked net to prevent Patrick Kane from scoring barely five minutes into what was still a scoreless game.
Watch the Kane save below...
from Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
So now it will be a question of adjustments for both teams, and the Hawks have an advantage there with Quenneville vs. Boudreau, whose playoff history is not in his favor.
The Hawks' head coach has already started to look for better matchups by giving Patrick Kane more to work with, at times even using him on a line with Jonathan Toews and Teuvo Teravainen, and there will probably be lineup changes for Game 2.
Quenneville also, predictably, reunited Keith with Brent Seabrook for a good portion of the game, but the Hawks' top four averaged 24 minutes while Rundblad played 10 and Kimmo Timonen only five.
Anaheim continued to play three sets of defense with its top four averaging 21 minutes and its bottom pair playing 17 and 15.
"I think we're fine," Quenneville said. "When you're not playing much, keep it simple, keep it safe and work your way through it."
from Corey Masisak of NHL.com,
One of the storylines entering the Western Conference Final was the matchup between the best comeback team in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks, and the best at protecting leads, the Chicago Blackhawks.
The roles were reversed Sunday in Game 1 at Honda Center, and the Ducks looked quite comfortable playing from ahead in a 4-1 victory that gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
Third-line forwards Nate Thompson and Kyle Palmieri had goals, and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves for the Ducks.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Anaheim (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Chicago dominated large stretches of the first period, but Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm had the lone goal. Lindholm one-timed a Jakob Silfverberg pass from the Stanley Cup logo near the left point at 8:48.
Watch the game highlights below...
The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks meet for the first time in the playoffs and the puck drops just after 3:00pm ET on NBC, CBC and TVA.
We also have the World Championship Gold Medal Game with Canada facing Russia. The game starts at 2:30pm and is on NBCSN and TSN1, TSN4 & TSN5.
Feel free to discuss the games.
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
Nobody doubts Chicago’s credentials; the Blackhawks do this like it’s nothing. This is the fifth time in seven seasons they’ve been in the West final — remarkable given their conference’s superior talent pool.
And the Ducks? Over that same seven-season span, they have missed the playoffs twice, lost in the first round another couple of times and been to the conference final just this once. They’ve swung and missed enough that Boudreau has been attempting to frame his team’s best players, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, as overlooked underdogs.
“Where do we play?” Boudreau was quoted as saying by NHL.com. “If (Getzlaf) was in any of the Eastern cities, everybody would know who (he and Corey Perry) are, and they’d be on national TV an awful lot.”
That’s laughable stuff, of course. That allegedly forgotten man named Perry was voted by members of the media (a good chunk of it Eastern) as winner of the Hart Trophy in 2011. It was only a season ago that Getzlaf finished second in Hart voting to Sidney Crosby. No matter that they play in palm-tree-shrouded obscurity, the hockey world is well aware of Anaheim’s stars.
But the hockey world is also well aware of this: The Ducks have yet to prove themselves as serious Stanley Cup contenders.
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
The perfect leader. The uncommon prototype. The willful scorer. The prolific showman.
Put all of that together and you might have the perfect hockey player. Each one on its own makes for something every NHL team covets. Possess two of them and you have a franchise that is in position to compete for championships.
In the star-studded Western Conference finals that begin today at Honda Center none shine brighter than four on display for what could be seven games – the Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
The greatest honors in the sport sit comfortably among the four. Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medals. The Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in the regular season and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable in the postseason.
For the first time, these two dynamic duos will clash in the playoffs with the chance to play for another Cup on the line. It makes for appointment television if you’re a hockey fan.
“I think that’s pretty special,” Ducks winger Patrick Maroon said. “I think it’s good for hockey that they’re all going up against each other. You can even put Marian Hossa in that group. He’s a really good player. Even Ryan Kesler.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
Chicago fans, please permit me to be the first to say it: You’re annoying.
Sure, you’re also knowledgeable, passionate and admirably devoted, dying harder than most organized religions.
But you are annoying, particularly in the way you’ll squeeze yourselves into Honda Center during this series and produce enough noise to seemingly split in half the allegiance inside the Ducks’ home.
It’s one thing to try to make your presence felt in an opposing building. It’s quite another to try to make the place your own. Visitors with a raucous, collective voice, you’ll overstay your welcome each game, by only three periods or so, give or take overtime.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with making whatever sacrifices are necessary to support your team in-person in an enemy arena.
For that, in fact, you should be applauded, even if rooting for the Blackhawks is obviously the easier option compared to the alternative, by which I mean rooting for the Cubs.
But I am saying that you do annoy, sort of like Red Wings fans, only with worse personal hygiene.
from Scott Powers of ESPN,
The phrase “winning culture” is often heard from the mouths of new coaches and general managers. Basically, it’s the idea of departing from a losing mentality and exchanging it for a winning one.
It’s something Stan Bowman believed in when he became the Blackhawks’ general manager and still believes in.
"I do," Bowman said. "You hear that thrown around a lot, especially when there’s changes and new people brought in, but I think what they’re getting at is a mentality and approach which becomes the norm."
The norm for the Blackhawks was losing when Bowman was first hired as a special assistant to the general manager in 2000. The Blackhawks had one winning season from 2000-2006.
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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