Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
"It's a chance for this organization to do something special," Kane said after today's morning skate in the United Center. "It's one of things where you're tossing and turning, your mind is racing. At this time of year, everybody is thinking about what's going to happen. The best thing is go out and play, let your mind rest."
Easier said than done. Kane said Chicago players talked about all the distractions surrounding this game when they met here yesterday and took care of families, tickets and the like on Sunday. Today is all business.
"We know this is the game we could win the Cup and it would be special to win it here at home," Kane said. "But let's focus on winning one hockey game and all the other storylines will stick out."
But Kane admitted that's no small task.
"It's tough to put your mind off that and think about other things that don't include the end result of winning here tonight. It's going to be in your mind no matter what," he said. "When you're away from the rink, you try to shut your mind off and try not to worry about everything that could happen. When you get to rink, turn it back on and try to get yourself as ready as possible. It's a great situation to be in. We'd rather be in this situation having our minds racing and thinking about all the things that can happen tonight than not. It's a pretty fun day."
Not much needed to be said for the Blackhawks, who have been here before, at home with their first chance to close out the Lightning and claim hockey’s Holy Grail.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Five keys for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win Monday night and extend the Stanley Cup finals to a seventh and deciding game:
1. Get a goal from Steven Stamkos: With Tyler Johnson ailing and Nikita Kucherov's status unknown after his Game 5 injury, the Triplets are in peril. All of which puts even more emphasis on the Lightning captain to light the lamp for the first time in these Cup finals. It’s unfair to put so much on Stamkos' shoulders, but the big stars have to show up when the chips are down. Stamkos was terrific in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers, scoring some big goals and playing a physical brand of hockey. The summer will be a long one for him if he can’t score a goal in the finals. Credit Stamkos for pointing to himself after Game 5. "It starts with me," he said of his team’s need to score goals.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Once the Blackhawks wondered. Now they know.
They know that they are good enough to parade the Stanley Cup around the ice at United Center on Monday night. They know that if they miss this opportunity they might never get it back.
This is a great team — the golden era for an 89-year-old organization — but it is also a team in transition. They battled through malaise in the regular season, seeing 11 teams win more regulation and overtime games, and defied death in the Western Conference final.
Now they’ve taken control of a coin-flip Stanley Cup Final and don’t want to cede it back to the Tampa Bay Lightning. If they win the next game, they’ll lift the 35-pound silver trophy on home ice for the first time since 1938.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Walk through the main floor of Jill and Stan Mikita's home in the western suburbs and you will see very little evidence that the man who owns it was one of the greatest players the sport of hockey ever has known.
Other than a portrait of the Blackhawks legend and an autographed photo of Mikita and lifelong friend Bobby Hull on the family room wall, there are few mementos indicating that it is the home of someone whose statue stands outside the United Center.
"Stan always said he didn't need things on the wall or plaques on the shelves because he had his memories," Jill Mikita says.
Now, those memories are gone.
Stan Mikita has been diagnosed with suspected dementia with Lewy body, a brain disorder that can strip those with it of memory, cause hallucinations, sleep disorders and often, though not in Mikita's case, Parkinson's disease. His decline has been steep and sudden....
"His mind is completely gone," Jill, Stan's wife of 52 years, says while sitting on the sun porch as one of her grandsons fishes in the pond out back. "I don't like to use that term but there's no other way to describe it."
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The Blackhawks have seen enough of Tampa.
They have no interest in returning to the humidity, the electric lightshow inside Amalie Arena, and the horde of characters — Stars Wars stormtroopers, Game of Thrones barbarians, anime creatures — flowing through the Tampa Convention Center two blocks from the rink. It is hard to tell which group looks more peculiar: the costumed crowd at Metrocon, Tampa’s anime convention, or the bearded bunch of tired and angry men doing battle on the ice.
On Monday, the Blackhawks would be quite happy to share the Stanley Cup with their fans at the United Center. It would be their third Cup in six years and first on home ice. The Lightning, meanwhile, want no part of participating in the crowning of a dynasty.
“It’s not just another game, but that’s the way we’ve got to try to approach it,” said Brent Seabrook, one of Chicago’s core players. “It’s a huge game.”
With one more win, whether it’s on Monday or in Game 7 Wednesday, the Blackhawks will claim the title of the best team in the post-2005 lockout era. They’ve advanced to this point by being the organization of the future — fast, skilled, deep, and overwhelming.
They control the game. They do not chase it.
from Darren Rovell of ESPN,
Less than an hour after the Blackhawks won Game 5 over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa on Saturday night, the resale price on StubHub for a standing room only seat in Chicago for Monday night's Game 6 was north of $1,000.
Those numbers have held through Sunday. As of 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, the cheapest ticket that comes with a seat for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals was $1,979.
Standing room only seats have a face value of $140. Upper goal section seats, that have a single-game face value of $285, are listed on StubHub for $2,445 each. Club level center tickets that have a face value of $650 are listed for $4,816 each, and the cheapest tickets right up against the glass, with a face value of $1,200, are listed at more than $10,000 apiece.
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.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org