Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Their dressing room gave off a cool, quiet, upbeat vibe. There was none of the devastation that was seen after those poor games they played down the stretch of the regular season. Is that strange?
“It’s a good thing,” Michael Peca said.
Rick Nash said, “After eight or nine years of driving to get here, it’s nice to be done with the first one. Coming into this, we all knew that we were going to go game to game, no matter what happened. That was stressed. That is how you’ve got to take it.”
The Jackets played half-well tonight. What they took from it was the knowledge that they can play under postseason conditions. They will take this powerful knowledge and, they must hope, fix their mistakes.
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
Every member of the Detroit Red Wings came to the rink Thursday morning clean shaven. That’s right. No playoff beards.
To a man and to coach Mike Babcock that’s the first motivational tool the defending Stanley Cup champions feel they need to show the hockey world that they are ready. They are not the team that had leaky goaltending or fell from the NHL’s best team defensively a year ago to a tie for 19th this season.
When asked if his team would be more preoccupied with getting their game in the moment, trying to stop Rick Nash, who had hat tricks against Detroit on Jan. 27 and March 7, or in trying to get rookie goalie Steve Mason off his game, Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom kept the answer in-house.
continue for more on Detroit & Columbus…
via Puck The Media,
Thanks to Schuyler Baehman of the NHL’s Communications Dep’t and all-around good guy (and who’s Twitter feed you should check out) for sending this along to us, as we’ve been hoping for this for quite some time:
In the first time of NHL Network U.S.’s history, it will broadcast a Stanley Cup Playoff game by airing live Game 2 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Conference Quarter-Final match-up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings from Detroit on Saturday, April 18 @ 6pm ET.
Locally, Fox Sports Detroit and Fox Sports Ohio will broadcast this game live as previously scheduled. NHL Network will be blacked out in those local markets.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
It’s the No. 2 seed versus the No. 7 this time, too, and from 1997 to 2006, a seventh seed has knocked off a second seed in Round 1.
It’s a mismatch on paper. The Wings have 1,793 playoff games experience in their lineup; Columbus 401. The Wings have the NHL’s best power play (25.5 per cent), the Jackets the worst (12.7 per cent). No clubs making the playoffs for the first time have ever won a Cup, but St. Louis (1968) and Florida (1996) did make the finals. “We’re in it to win, just like the other 15 teams ... we didn’t come this far just to throw our gear on and that’s it,” said Jackets captain Rick Nash, who got two hat tricks this season, both against the Wings.
“We achieved our goal, to get into the playoffs for the first time. That was great. But now that we’re in them, we want to go far. We’re not just happy to make them.”
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
It sounds as if the Detroit Red Wings think the Blue Jackets are pretty much a one-man band.
They would deny that, of course, but there might be enough evidence to convict. Consider Henrik Zetterberg’s reaction when he was asked about facing the Blue Jackets and their rookie goaltender, Steve Mason, in the first round of the NHL playoffs:
“He’s basically taken them to the playoffs by himself,” Zetterberg said. “It’s easy to play well when you have a goalie like that that really stops the pucks. They have good confidence in him.”
The Jackets obviously have one or two other players who might have lent a hand in the playoff drive—hey, if Zetterberg tries real hard, he could even come up with three or four—but Mason leaps to the Red Wings’ minds because they had so much trouble with him this season.
The Blue Jackets could have forward Fredrik Modin in the lineup as early as Game 1. Modin practiced yesterday and said his injured knee felt strong enough to play. Coach Ken Hitchcock was not divulging his lineup, but kept hinting the lineup the Red Wings see on Thursday night could be different than the one they are expecting.
Jackets forward Kristian Huselius also said he’s a go for the series opener.
The wild card is rookie center Derick Brassard. Brassard visits his Cleveland Clinic doctor on Wednesday hoping to receive medical clearance on his injured right shoulder. Assuming Brassard gets the green light—and there’s no guaranteed he does—don’t be surprised if he’s in the lineup for Game 3 in Columbus.
Blue Jackets fans are asked how the playoffs work…
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
Veteran center Michael Peca will not play on fan appreciation night against the Wild.
“Day off,” coach Ken Hitchcock said when asked why Peca was out of the lineup.
Is he injured?
“Day off,” Hitchcock responded.
Are you happy with the way Peca is playing?
“Day off,” Hitchcock said.
There’s two ways to view it. Hitchcock is trying to hide an injury or he’s sending a message to his 35-year-old alternate captain. Interesting.
more on the Blue Jackets…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Nash scored the tying goal late in the third on Wednesday, his fifth in five games, to once more underscore his importance to the Columbus franchise. But while he’ll now finally get to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game, the elephant in the room is that he has one more year on his contract at $7 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Talks will begin this summer, and it should be obvious to Columbus GM Scott Howson after watching the Marian Gaborik episode play out in Minnesota and the Jay Bouwmeester situation crystallize in Florida that if the Jackets don’t have a deal with Nash done by September, there’s an excellent chance he won’t be re-signing at all.
If that’s the case, the smart play may be to trade him before next season even starts.
He’s from Brampton, so the connection to the Maple Leafs has been made repeatedly. Analysts suggest he’ll come in somewhere between Henrik Zetterberg’s $7.5 million salary and Alex Ovechkin’s $9 million on one of those whopper long-term deals, so this is his shot at a career contract. The Jackets, however, lost about $12 million last season and are probably deeper in the hole now, with playoff revenue set to possibly improve that figure.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets fans, you’ve waited a long, long time for this. You’ve invested lots of time and lots of emotion to get to this point. You’ve thrown lots of pillows at the TV and stalked out of Nationwide Arena lots of times, either because of blowout losses or late-game collapses.
This night was for you. Now eight seasons in the league, the Blue Jackets have earned the right to compete for the NHL’s ultimate trophy. This night was for you, and it was for the biggest fan of them all—the man who plunked down the $80 million check to finance an expansion franchise, late owner John H. McConnell.
added 10:11am, from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
Enjoy the playoffs, Blue Jackets fans. Your team is going to be a pain in the butt for someone.
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 email@example.com