Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Blues can practically taste the Western Conference finals, but they know how quickly a series can turn. They almost learned that lesson the hard way when they struggled to close out the Blackhawks after taking a 3-1 lead in that opening-round series.
A 3-2 lead isn’t quite as commanding as 3-1, obviously. Hitchcock knows as much. Elliott knows as much. Vladimir Tarasenko knows as much and so on. The Stars also know that they’re one victory away from regaining home-ice advantage and forcing a winner-take-all Game 7 at their house.
“We had a gutsy effort in Game 4,” Benn said. “And we’re going to need more desperation next game.”
With everything to lose, the Stars are definitely going to be a desperate team in Game 6.
The opening round served as a perfect tune-up for what awaits the Blues in Game 6. One more victory and they’re headed to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2001. It’s been 15 years since the Blues were in the conference finals, and you have to like their chances in Game 6 with Elliott in goal. They don’t have to be tight because it’s not a must-win game for them. They must play loose yet hungry.
“It’s always tough to win in the opposing building,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “I know we’ve done well on the road, but we set ourselves up well to go home and win a game. If we can do more of the same like we did (in Game 5), I think we’ll be on the right side of things after Game 6.”
from Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News,
The NHL's highest scoring team can no longer locate the net. Stars Coach Lindy Ruff calls it simply a matter of "puck luck." It surely seems to be more than that.
The St. Louis Blues took something less than command but something greater than a slight 3-2 edge in this series with their 4-1 victory at American Airlines Center Saturday afternoon. The game was over (2:26 p.m. CDT) almost before most afternoon games start, and now this series isn't over but it's tilted in the direction of the Blues.
It's not because Game 6 will be played back in St. Louis. The Blues have lost three of the their six home games in this postseason. They are no more dominant at home than the Stars have been (3-3 at AAC). But of the last three games in this series, the Blues have won by scores of 6-1 and 4-1 while losing once in overtime.
That constitutes a trend that doesn't favor the local club.
Game highlights are below...
Series is tied at two and the puck drops just after 1:00pm ET in Dallas
Calling the game on NBC will be John Forslund and Joe Micheletti. The game is also on SN and TVAS in Canada.
Discuss the game if you wish...
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Blues are 5-1 in daytime hockey this season, and the Dallas Stars are 5-2. One of those contests was Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series, won 3-2 by the Blues.
But while the clubs have been successful with the sun still shining outside, and they’ve already experienced the early start time in these playoffs, their matchup Saturday in Game 5 of a best-of-seven series tied at two games each will be challenging.
For starters, the puck will drop a little after noon at American Airlines Center and neither the Blues nor Dallas has played a game before 2 p.m. this season. Secondly, it will begin roughly 38 hours after the Stars wrapped up a 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 at 10:07 p.m.
After it was over, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock acknowledged that both clubs appeared exhausted.
“Everybody knew this was going to be a long, hard series for both teams,” he said. “I thought both teams, at times, looked tired.”
And that was before both traveled back to Dallas. The Stars returned Thursday night and practiced Friday; the Blues took the day off before flying.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
All they needed was some goaltending.
The Dallas Stars had been crying for it. Coach Lindy Ruff had been covering for both his ‘keepers, defending their honour, praying that one of them might finally give the Stars a chance in this series against the St. Louis Blues.
Thursday night, Lehtonen repaid the debt.
Seconds before the Stars went the other way and scored the overtime game-winner, Lehtonen got his left pad on a point-blank Jori Lehtera shot, set up by Vladimir Tarasenko, and his teammates responded.
“A hundred percent. Kari stepped up for us,” said captain Jamie Benn, who started the three-way passing play that led, via Patrick Sharp, to centre Cody Eakin, who snapped a shot from the left faceoff dot into the roof of the net on the short side over Brian Elliott’s right shoulder at 2:58 of extra time.
from Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Here it was for the St. Louis Blues, and it was happening in St. Louis, too: A third period to essentially clinch a third playoff round.
Blues win, series is over; Blues lose, series just starting.
And what happened at Scottrade in the most-important period of the series?
St. Louis looked sloppy and slipshod and sluggish and, ugh, can you believe it, the Blues blew it.
Entering the third period, the game was tied at two. Now the series is. They looked lost in the third, and then they lost it in overtime.
“We can do a better job of managing the puck,” Alex Pietrangelo said.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
They lost ugly in Game 3. They were all but written off going against a veteran St. Louis Blues team on a mission. And they couldn't care less.
All they did was go out and beat the Blues 3-2 in overtime in Game 4 to regain home-ice advantage and head back to Dallas with the series locked up 2-2.
The Game 3 debacle might have lingered in the minds of observers, but not the guys on the ice. They're having fun and they just announced that this series is going deep when it looked like it might be a quick one.
"You can't play perfect hockey all the time," said Stars captain Jamie Benn, in the understatement of the series. "It was just magnified a bit because it's the playoffs. The message was stay positive, get back at it."
It's hard to truly get behind this Stars team because it's unlike any of the recent Western Conference powers. When things break down, they break down in a big way, as was on full display in Game 3 -- and those moments stick in the memory.
Game highlights are below...
Series now tied at 2-2 and game five is in Dalas on Saturday afternoon (1:00pm ET).
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Lindy Ruff has been around a long, long time. Which, in turn, has left him a damned good coach. Good enough to be in the Jack Adams talk for the NHL’s coach of the year award, the finalists for which come out Thursday night.
There’s no scheme that St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock could dream up that Ruff won’t have an answer for, and vice versa, as two old Alberta-bred coaches with more than 2,800 regular season games coached between them push and pull over whose preferred style dictates the way this series is played.
We thought this to be true when the series began, but now we are certain: Dallas isn’t going to win at St. Louis’ heavy, forechecking game. And the Blues can’t beat Dallas’ at the “score off the rush” game the Stars prefer.
So this series stands at 2-1 for St. Louis. But really, we’ve watched two games played St. Louis’ way, and one for Dallas. So it’s more like, Hitchcock 2, Ruff 1.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
They were like scenes from a movie that St. Louis Blues forward Scottie Upshall never wants to see again.
There was the freeway he'd drive on into the small northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray from the airport, surrounded by leaping flames and billowing smoke.
There were old favorite restaurants he used to visit while growing up, completely wiped out by the wildfire that forced the evacuation of all 88,000 residents. The fast-moving blaze continued to engulf homes and buildings Wednesday, wiping out 18,500 acres and 1,600 buildings, including a new school, according to reports.
There were news stories of residents in tears, forced to rush out of their homes -- before they could grab personal belongings -- to avoid being trapped by the wind-whipped flames, which cost them the complete devastation of everything they owned.
"It's tough when it becomes national and global news for a city of 80,000 people," Upshall said Wednesday. "It's pretty upsetting."
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