Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning's top scoring threat was held without a goal for the eighth consecutive playoff game, dating to last season's first-round defeat against Montreal. Including the regular season, Stamkos is on a six-game drought without a goal and has only three in his past 14 games.
"It's tough," said Stamkos, who was second in the league with 43 goals during the regular season. "Obviously I want to produce. It's not for lack of effort. … It's just not going the way I want it to right now."
Detroit's defensemen have been a big reason for that, limiting him to two assists in Game 2 and nothing since.
The Red Wings have made it a focus to limit Stamkos' opportunities by keeping the puck away from him. He had only two shots Saturday in 19 minutes on the ice, including 2:43 on the power play.
"Obviously when you look at their team, the guys who are going to get the most attention are (Tyler) Johnson and Stamkos," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "You do everything you can to make sure those guys have the fewest touches possible."
via Dave Hodge of TSN,
It's pretty hard to say Detroit has a goaltending problem when the Red Wings are tied 1-1 with Tampa Bay because rookie Petr Mrazek stole the first game with a 44-save performance, but Detroit has a goaltending problem, to which thumbs must be turned down.
It was said here previously that Mrazek runs hot and cold like water taps and Jimmy Howard wouldn't be too long on the bench if the Red Wings didn't play a lot better in Game 2. They didn't, he wasn't, and Detroit goes home without much confidence in either goalie, or in themselves. Mike Babcock says he's sticking with Mrazek and he would probably deny the use of a coin in reaching that decision.
Chicago's situation is somewhat similar. The Blackhawks stole their first game in Nashville because of Scott Darling's superb netminding in relief of Corey Crawford. Coach Joel Quenneville showed faith in his Stanley Cup-winning goalie and started Crawford again in Game 2, but the 6-2 loss to the desperate Predators has forced Quenneville to send Darling out for his first playoff start back in Chicago for Sunday's Game 3.
Crawford shouldn't relax. It's a tough way to win a playoff series when goalies have to be pulled and starters are never certain.
from Martin Fennelly of The Tampa Tribune,
The first shot he faced in his Stanley Cup playoff career, nine minutes into the game, got past him. Not really his fault. The fourth shot he faced in his Stanley Cup playoff career, eight seconds into the second period, that beat him, too. Not really his fault. The third one, on the 12th shot, the game-winner, he has to stop. Bad goal.
I’m not saying Ben Bishop lost Game 1 for the Lightning.
But he didn’t win it, either.
He had a lot of company in that regard as his team dropped Game 1 to the Detroit Red Wings, 3-2 at Amalie Arena.
Where was That Line, Johnson, Kucherov and Palat? Where was Steve Stamkos? Where was the power play? Where were the Lightning with all those chances?
But you can’t get around the fact that at one point in the third period, the Red Wings had taken 12 shots on Bishop, and three of them had gone in. That’s one out of four.
Reminds us of when John Tortorella lambasted keeper John Grahame after Grahame allowed four goals on 17 shots against Ottawa in an ’06 playoff game, saying he was tired of “the 25 percent rule.”
The bottom line is that the Red Wings gave up 46 shots, more than they did in any game this season, and took only 14, the fewest they’d taken all season — and they won.
added 8:28am, from Tom Jones of The Tampa Bay Times,
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The good news for the Red Wings is that they should be a healthier team when they host the Bruins. On Tuesday, the Wings were without trade-deadline acquisition Erik Cole, Pavel Datsyuk and Riley Sheahan, and they lost Drew Miller early with that harrowing skate blade incident.
After the team's 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, Wings coach Mike Babcock said that he expects to have "more hands on deck" against the Bruins, so it's safe to assume that at least a few of those aforementioned players will return to the lineup. A critical two points are up for grabs.
And if Mrazek delivers another performance like he did on Tuesday, stopping 33 of 34 shots while under siege all night, it might be his job to lose heading into the playoffs.
read more hoickey topics with Burnside on Bruins/Wings, Custance on the Sharks and LeBrun on the Canadiens...
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
Last week, he went out with some people close to him, including his son, who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, for a pastime Howe carried with him from his childhood in Saskatchewan.
He went fishing.
"I was down there last week," said Mark Howe, the director of pro scouting for the Red Wings, whose career as a defenseman put him in the Hall of Fame in Toronto with his father.
"We took him out catfishing a couple of days on a couple of ponds and did some walks and everyday things. Overall, he did pretty well."...
"My brother Murray and I were there last week," Howe said. "I had four days with him. He did pretty well when I was there.
"This week, my brother Marty's down there, and he struggled a little bit more this week. But I guess he's doing a little bit better today."
The story by Kruppa was probably meant for tomorrow, which is Gordie Howe's 87th birthday.
... love the spin coming out of Toronto that Mike Babcock will charge over to the Leafs following this season. Yes. MLSE can make him rich but, for pity’s sake, he’d be inheriting a team that is chaotic in the boardroom, directionless and spiritless in the locker room and is at least five years away from competing for a playoff spot.
Sure, Babcock likes a challenge as much as the next guy, but let’s get real here. If he decides to leave Detroit he’ll have his pick of jobs, and stepping into that toxic waste spill in Toronto won’t be at the top of his list.
-Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province where you can read more hockey topics...
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
While the spotlight entering the final two weeks of the NHL regular season is focused squarely on the enticing playoff races in both conferences, there are a handful of general managers and coaches who are primed for a blindfold and last cigarette.
And the reading of the last rites, of course.
Indeed, there is no shortage of men who are playing out the string over the next 14 days, all the while knowing that their tenure with their respective teams is coming to an inevitable end.
Whether it be the Leafs, Sharks, Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Sabres, Blues, etc., there are axes being sharpened throughout the league, poised to come down as part of various housecleanings going on from coast to coast.
And, according to one Eastern Conference executive, the catalyst for many of the ensuing moves could be Mike Babcock.
continued with a look at teams who could use Mike Babcock's services...
Watch the goal below...
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.
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