Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune,
Coach Joel Quenneville is usually a morning person after games. Even losses don't seem as bad the next day.
Not so much when the sun rose on Thursday, the day after a 6-2 home loss to the Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
“I woke up this morning way more angry than when I exited the game,” he said before the team flew to Los Angeles, where the series continues Saturday with Game 3. “Normally it’s the other way around. Certainly there’s a lot of positives to take out of the game. But the little details and the way we gave them the goals (are negatives). Exiting a game like that is a game that should get your attention.”
Quenneville’s message is to the Hawks is not to put Wednesday’s loss entirely behind them but to channel their anger.
“I think there’s got to be a reaction,” he said. “We shouldn’t be happy about it. That’s what we’re looking for. I think that’s how you get past it, doing something about it. We should be angry about how we got beat. I think there’s anger involved and that’s not a bad thing to have.”
Almost 2 1/2 minutes of the action from last night.
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune at the LA Times,
The Hawks will regroup, refuse to panic and say all the right things heading into Game 3 on Saturday night at Staples Center. They know they have to be better from top to bottom — but especially at the top.
What is that hockey cliche about stars needing to play like stars? Anybody seen Patrick Sharp?
You know what they say this time of year. As Nick Leddy and Ben Smith go, so go the Blackhawks.
Actually, nobody says that, which is part of the problem. Leddy and Smith scored the only goals for Chicago and provided some of its few highlights.
These are the guys who rely on their inner drive to stay relevant on a team full of stars. They needed help from those guys in Game 2.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Then, an innocent goal on a harmless play with under two minutes to go in the second period by Justin Williams got the Kings to within one and opened the door for a wildly unexpected five-goal third-period explosion - keyed by two consecutive power-play goals - that turned certain defeat into an unexpected Los Angeles victory.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we have a series, tied at a game apiece, with both teams having two days off to ponder what comes next.
The Blackhawks sounded almost shell-shocked in the aftermath of the defeat, Quenneville noting how “the way it turned on a dime like that, I don’t know if we’ve seen a game like that all year, where we’re doing everything right and then all of a sudden, it was a disaster.”
The Kings, of course, have been down this path before in these playoffs. They’re like an unwanted house guest, never quite knowing when to leave the party. The San Jose Sharks had them down three games to zero in the opening round, only to see L.A. engineer a comeback from the ages. The Anaheim Ducks had them on the ropes in the next round, but couldn’t finish them off either, L.A. advancing in seven games again.
And now? The Blackhawks got a taste of those never-say-die Kings.
The puck will drop just after 8:00pm ET and you can watch on NBCSN, TSN or RDS.
I expect the LA Kings to put more pressure on the Chicago Blackhawks defense and get to the net to create some 'dirty' goals.
Will they be successful? We are about to find out.
Enjoy and feel free to comment on the game or anything hockey related.
Scott Burnside and Craig Custance of ESPN discuss who is the better defenseman, Keith or Doughty...
BURNSIDE: ... In Game 1, it was Keith ripping a hard shot that deflected off a defender's stick and then the ice before rocketing over Kings netminder Jonathan Quick's shoulder for what would be the game winner. Doughty, meanwhile, led all players in ice time and power play time. Talk about a great battle. Which begs the question: Whom would you take to build a team around?
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told me during the conference semifinals that when he took the job, one of the first calls he made was to Keith's agent to ensure that Keith wanted to stay with the team long-term. Keith wasn't too concerned about the money but wanted to be sure the team wasn't going to be one-and-done. As Keith told me, when you're done playing, all you'll have are memories, so you might as well have as many memories about winning. So far, so good for both he and the Blackhawks.
CUSTANCE: They're two great players who can change the game with one rush up the ice. You can build a team around either one and you're doing just fine.
While it pains me to pick someone over a fellow Michigan State Spartan, I'd lean toward Doughty if I were building my franchise. In fact, there are not many players in the league I'd want at any position more than Doughty. Maybe Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. That's about it.
First, it's his age. Keith turns 31 years old in July, which still means he has plenty of good years left since defensemen typically have a longer shelf life in their peak than forwards. But Doughty is just 24. Twenty-four! He's got two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and he hasn't cracked 25 years old yet. It's amazing.
The magic number you hear with defensemen is that it takes a good 300 NHL games to learn how to play defense in this league and he's at 442 already at his age. I had a good chat today with Marian Gaborik about getting to know Doughty since the trade from the Eastern Conference and he raved about his teammate.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
You realize what this is, right? You see what’s going on, don’t you?
While you freak out about whether Peter Regin should stay in the lineup when Andrew Shaw returns, while you agonize about whether Brandon Bollig or Jeremy Morin is the best fit for the fourth line, while you rend garments over a bad power play here or a lousy turnover there, just pause for a moment. Take a step back. Breathe. And realize what you’re freaking out about.
Not about untelevised games. Not about penny-pinching owners putting a minor-league team on the ice. Not about incompetent coaches, player discord, empty buildings or an indifferent city.
No, you’re stressing about which highly competent player is going to be on the highly effective fourth line of the highly visible defending Stanley Cup champions in a highly rated Western Conference final in which the Blackhawks have home-ice advantage. These aren’t first-world problems, people. These are 1-percenter problems. You are the 1 percent right now. You have it better than anybody. You have it better than any hockey fan in Chicago has had it. And you probably have it better than any hockey fan in Chicago will have it.
You are in the Golden Age.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
... while neither team’s admitting to it here in Chicago, either, you still have the equivalent of two modern-day dynasties competing for the Western Conference championship – the local Blackhawks, who won Stanley Cups in both 2010 and 2013, against the Los Angeles Kings, who won in 2012.
The Kings, who trail the best-of-seven series 1-0, have made it to the conference final in three consecutive seasons, and they have won 33 playoff games in that span, by far the most post-season wins by any team in the league. This may not be quite the same as Montreal winning five Stanley Cups in a row or the Islanders winning four or the Oilers winning five times in seven years, but it shows consistent excellence nonetheless.
Both Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and his Kings counterpart Darryl Sutter played in the dynasty era, and know that as difficult as it was then to keep a team together and to press all the right buttons, it is even tougher now.
According to Quenneville, much of the Blackhawks’ success can be traced to the fact that, when they won in 2010, their core group was still “real young” and thus still had a big upside.
via NBC Sports Group release,
Yesterday’s Western Conference Final Game 1 between Los Angeles and Chicago (3-6 p.m. ET) delivered a 1.9 overnight rating on NBC, up 90% from the comparable game two years ago (Phoenix-Los Angeles, 1.0). There was no comparable game last year.
Chicago drew a 15.9 HH rating, its second-best Conference Final rating ever on NBC, behind only last year’s primetime game (Los Angeles-Chicago, 19.6, 6/8/13). Los Angeles posted a 2.1 HH rating.
On Saturday afternoon, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens (1-3:45 p.m. ET) drew a 1.2 overnight rating. New York delivered a 3.2 HH rating.
NBC was the No. 1 market during the respective games in Chicago and New York, and No. 2 in Los Angeles.
Viewers consumed 2.87 million minutes of yesterday’s game, the most ever for a Conference Final, up 43% vs. last year’s CF average, and the best for an unauthenticated game this season. Nearly 63,000 uniques streamed the game.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Considering they were playing for the second time in 40 hours, after taking their first two series to the limit, Sunday’s meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks was always going to be a wish-and-a-prayer sort of game for the Los Angeles Kings anyway. The Kings were hoping that they could come in and steal a game, even though they were theoretically running on fumes, and weirdly, they almost did.
Territorially, it was theirs for the taking. They outshot the Blackhawks – the margin was an eye-popping 17-6 in the second period alone – and mostly outplayed them as well. Chicago scored two goals on deflections, had a third goal controversially disallowed, but didn’t put it away until a Jonathan Toews converted a three-on-one with 3:50 to go in regulation. Ultimately, the Blackhawks were happy enough to skate away with a 3-1 win and get a leg up in the first game of the Western Conference final.
The series, a much-anticipated match-up between the past two Stanley Cup champions, was always going to feature contrasting playing styles – Chicago, boasting the NHL’s No. 2 regular-season offence; Los Angeles countering with the league’s No. 1 defence. It was Chicago’s skill against L.A.’s size – but the funny thing about predetermined scripts is they don’t always play out the way they’re supposed.
If anything, the Blackhawks had far more trouble handling L.A.’s speed than its physical play.
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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