Kukla's Korner Hockey
The NHL explains...
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
If you are a Blue Jackets fan, you don’t want to think the Pittsburgh Penguins are in your team’s head, like a subcranial hematoma pressing on the cerebellum, affecting balance. Yet, you have to consider the possibility.
The Jackets played well in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Friday night. They did, however, lose.
“(Pucks) are bouncing every which way but in our net,” captain Nick Foligno said. “As soon as they start bouncing our way, look out.”...
“We’re excited,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “We’re not feeling down. We’re excited to get home to Nationwide. That place is going to be buzzing.”...
“I thought everyone of our team played their (butts) off,” Tortorella said. “We’re not doing too much thinking about who we’re playing against. We’re just playing the right way.”
The Jackets believe they will bounce back at home. They think they just need a couple of bounces. If you are a Jackets fan, you hope they’re right.
Below, watch the highlights of the Penguins 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets...
Two for cross-checking.
from Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette,
Here we are one game into a playoff run that kicked off with such hope in the Habs Nation and the Canadiens are already in a deep hole. It’s only one game, but the fact is that Game 2 Friday night at the Bell Centre has become an absolute must-win match.
You can’t tell me that the Habs can drop two at home and then somehow win four of the next five against this impressive Rangers squad — Not happening.
So we’re in deep dung. It’s a long way from over and there’s time to adjust, but this is serious.
Meanwhile the fan base is evenly divided between irrational optimism and equally irrational, dark pessimism. I’m the oh-so-rational objective observer and I think Montreal is in big trouble, but there are ways to deal with the trouble.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispath,
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Clean, but hard. Physical, not flagrant.
The Blue Jackets aren’t looking to make any friends in their first-round playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they don’t want to be on speed dial at the NHL’s offices, either.
“Every time you get a chance to get a lick on one of their top guys, you absolutely have to do it,” Blue Jackets veteran Scott Hartnell said. “Do it legally. You can’t get your stick up. You can’t get your elbows up. You don’t want to put your team down a man.
“But we want to skate, use our legs, get in on pucks and turn things over. They’ve got some banged-up defensemen, and we need to put some heat on them.”
The Blue Jackets had their best season — and finished fourth in the league’s overall standings — by being one of the most-difficult teams to play against, with a smothering forecheck, four relentless lines and a collection of players who don’t mind the rough stuff.
They can’t change now that the stakes are higher. If anything, they need to amp it up.
from Gary Lawless of TSN,
Break out the Jay Onrait clips. Bobrovsky is neither off the case nor a disgrace to the department. To the contrary, he should win the Hart Memorial Trophy for his work this season.
The fine print says the Hart is awarded to the player judged to be most valuable to his team. But just as much that, in reality, this is an award for the best player in the NHL in any given season. This year, that’s Sergei Bobrovsky.
No other player has been as important to his team and its results as Bobrovsky has to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Take Bobrovsky off the C-bus and it’s not necessarily in the ditch but it isn’t nipping at the Capitals for the league lead. John Tortorella is having a fine season behind the Blue Jackets’ bench, but his greatest act of coaching every night is filling out the lineup card with Bobrovsky as his starter. Torts should bronze the pen he’s been using this season.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
On Saturday, he pulled 24 minutes, 24 seconds of ice time as the Blue Jackets defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 at Nationwide Arena. On Thursday, he pulled 26:47 and scored a goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals in Washington.
It's not the ice time or the offensive aplomb or any other single facet of Jones' game that grabs attention. It is his burgeoning hossification. Jones is showing he has the ability and the desire to take control of games. That makes him a special defenseman, especially as the calendar turns from March to April.
"Our last two games, some guys just haven't played well and haven't been totally there," coach John Tortorella said. "I think it's probably the two best games I've seen (Jones) play. ...
"I cannot explain how many things he has done well, especially these past two games. It goes very unnoticed. He's also in charge of the kid next to him. But, man, the past two games, some of the things he has done ... it's really encouraging as we look forward to the real stuff."
Polak received 5 for boarding a game.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
No one around the NHL views the Presidents' Trophy as a predictor of playoff success. Since 2003, only two of 13 teams that finished No. 1 overall have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.
But winning that title has added value this season because the NHL’s top three teams, Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus, are all in the Metropolitan Division. The runner-ups in the race will face each other in the opening playoff round.
“That’s going to be a test right off the bat, and it could leave a mark for the second round,” Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz told USA TODAY Sports.
The Chicago Blackhawks, currently fourth in the Presidents' Trophy race with 100 points and nine games remaining, could easily step up and win it. But that wouldn’t change the reality that the losers of the battle for Metropolitan Division supremacy have a tougher playoff road.
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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