Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Eric Stephens at the LA Times,
In the first two games of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Dallas Stars, the Ducks saw a Chris Pronger they don’t want to see. The invisible one.
They prefer the hard-skating, occasionally nasty one who scored two goals in Game 3.
Good or bad, the 6-foot-6 Pronger always draws attention. And in his drive to win, he sometimes crosses the line, as evidenced by his eight career suspensions, including an eight-game punishment toward the end of the regular season.
But Pronger’s performance Tuesday night showed why such reprimands by the NHL are something to simply accept.
From Tom Cowlishaw at the Dallas News,
Repeat after me. In the National Hockey League, there is no home-ice advantage.
I think we all know the Stars’ sad numbers since moving from their cozier digs at Reunion Arena. They have won one home game in their last seven playoff tries against Colorado, Vancouver and now Anaheim.
I find this trivia question rather amazing.When’s the last time the Stars won a playoff series on their home ice?
Think about it for a second. That’s long enough.
from Jim Reeves of the Star-Telegram,
The Stars brought their infamous Sybil act to center ice Tuesday night at the AAC. Or was it Three Faces of Eve?
Whoever it was, she didn’t go over a bit well with the sellout crowd of 18,532. The fans showed up in black, as requested, expecting to see the same team that had played almost flawlessly in two impressive victories in Anaheim last week.
That Stars team must still be touring Magic Mountain or Knott’s Berry Farm. It certainly didn’t show up for Game 3, which didn’t break Anaheim’s heart at all.
from Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Star Telegram,
Pronger is mean, nasty, sadistic, talented, gritty; your basic hockey nightmare and exactly what you want in a captain. He is the guy who night in and night out says you have to come through me to get to them. Or he used to be that guy.
That Pronger has been nowhere to be found in this first-round playoff series; unless you count seeing snippets of him in Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
He has out-Prongered Pronger with his play and is a big reason the Stars find themselves up 2-0 on the defending Stanley Cup champs with a chance to bury them in Game 3 tonight at the AAC.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been, ahem, hard to hit. Ryan Getzlaf is supposed to be the next big thing, but so far in this series he hasn’t been.
Todd Bertuzzi, on his best days, still takes a dumb penalty for every good play he makes. Scott Niedermayer, one of the best skaters in the history of the NHL, has been caught out of position more than once.
These aren’t the same Ducks, of course.
They’ve made enough changes to add players like Mathieu Schneider, Doug Weight, Jonas Hiller, Bryan Sutherby and Bertuzzi that while the core of the team remains the same, there are some different individual dynamics at work. Team chemistry is a fragile thing and doesn’t necessarily transfer from one season to the next, and so far the Ducks just don’t look as cohesive and focused as they were last spring.
from Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Star-Telegram,
His wicked wrister basically wrapped up a 5-2 victory for the Stars on Saturday and, as a result, they are coming back to Dallas with a chance to get out of the first round for the first time since 2003 without having to leave the state again.
“I think it’s huge,” Richards said. “You want to feel wanted and feel like you are contributing.”
He is. And he has.
Don’t look now, but this Stars team suddenly looks different with Richards. Dare I say dangerous?
This is what happens when all three of your big-name, big-money, big-expectation centers come to play in April. Any coach will tell you that kind of depth is almost impossible to stop.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
What’s embarrassing is that the Ducks have not sustained any energy or fire for more than a few minutes here and there, that they’ve been submissive and sloppy when the situation called for assertiveness and precision.
Other than a brief display of the grinding game that has been the foundation of their success and allowed them to tie the score, 2-2, late in the second period, they haven’t put up a fight, figuratively or literally, in these first two games.
They haven’t peppered Dallas goaltender Marty Turco with shots, fought for rebounds, or used their muscle to do more than slam the door to the penalty box.
from Jennifer Floyd-Engel of the Star-Telegram,
Between Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks have the beginnings of the Mount Rushmore of current NHL defensemen. The Stars, well,...
“Are you saying we don’t have any Rushmores here?” coach Dave Tippett asked.
Yeah, that is kind of what I am saying. Nor, apparently, am I alone.
Tip admits that he has fellow NHL coaches calling and asking “what are you doing?” with regard to his six defensemen. What he tells them is, “We are doing fine.”
And despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, they are doing just fine. Better than fine, actually, which is saying a lot since Anaheim basically has pinpointed Dallas’ D as an area of interest.
from the Dallas Morning News,
The transformation occurred two summers ago in Marty Turco’s hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
That’s when he shaved off his wavy black locks, opting for a low-maintenance buzz cut. It’s when he completely changed his diet and revamped his off-season workouts, opting more for core strength and flexibility.
You saw the results of his new approach last year in the Dallas Stars’ 4-3 series loss against Vancouver, and you continued to see them the other day in Game 1 against Anaheim.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
In their first playoff game as the defending Stanley Cup champions, facing a team that was imploding during the final month of the season, the Ducks tripped over their own lofty expectations and dissolved into an ugly pile of mush before a stunned crowd that didn’t fill the Honda Center in body or spirit.
All the mistakes the Ducks overcame last spring because their character and scoring power ran so deep were insurmountable for them Thursday night.
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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