Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The fifth game of the Western Conference finals will be the one in which they stop taking the careless penalties that have sapped their energy and fueled the Red Wings’ offense, or it will be another showcase for their lack of discipline.
It will be the day they realize that mental toughness is more important than sheer brawn, or another occasion on which they let their emotions overrule their heads.
It’s their choice.
They can use their abundant talent to its fullest, or they can be drawn into tripping and hooking and holding and continue to tax their overworked defense and disrupt the flow of their offense.
They say they have chosen how they want to be known.
more (reg. req.)
from The Milford Daily News,
But any fan of hockey - traditional, old-school hockey as it was meant to be played - should have their eyes glued to the ongoing Western Conference Finals between Anaheim and Detroit.
The series might be the last chance for traditionalists to save the game.
If hockey general managers have proven anything over the years, it’s that they’re not the most creative bunch. The NHL is a copycat league; when one system or approach proves successful, you can be sure a good chunk of the league will try to do the same thing.
That means the winner of this series, which is tied at two games apiece heading into this afternoon’s Game 5 in Detroit (NBC, 3 p.m.), could provide the blueprint for many other franchises, especially if the winner goes on to take the Stanley Cup.
Anaheim and Detroit couldn’t approach the game any differently. And ironically, the roles are opposite what you would expect from the respective cities they call home.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Against Calgary and then San Jose, the Wings found themselves tied at 2 heading into home dates in Game 5. In both cases, they dominated the games en route to Game 6 series-clinching victories.
The Anaheim Ducks, however, are in uncharted territory. They dispatched Minnesota and Vancouver with relative ease in five games and now face their first must-win contest of the postseason.
Must win? History shows that when a series is tied at 2, the team that wins the fifth game has gone on to win 157 of 195 series (80 percent).
from the New York Times,
Sobotka remained a little-known player in the Red Wings’ organization until the early 1990s, when he unwittingly began what is perhaps the most wacky ritual in all of sports: the octopus twirl.
During a home playoff game in 1991, a fan tossed an octopus onto the ice after a Red Wings goal, a tradition that dates to 1952, when it took eight postseason victories to win the Stanley Cup.
As he had done for years, Sobotka quickly corralled the octopus with his bare hands. This time, however, Sobotka took a moment to greet the crowd, with eight tentacles.
“I just gave that octopus a little twirl over my head,” he recalled. “The place went nuts.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Babcock was incredulous to Pronger’s explanation, and turned to the moderator, NHL vice-president Jamey Horan, and said “we have one more question?” When he was told that was it, he walked off.
Pronger is many things: a Norris Trophy winner, a Hart Trophy winner, an Olympic gold medalist, funny, bold, honest and outspoken. He may also prove to be a motivator because his words on Friday appeared to have fired up the Wings. The big defenceman didn’t stop at his physics remark.
He also told the Roggin and Simers Squared radio show:
“The league should make its own calls, not be pressured into anything by the media, and more to the point, the Canadian media,” said Pronger, who was suspended for Game 4 on Thursday, when his teammates scored a 5-3 victory to tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
Read the full transcript from today’s Q & A with Babcock…
from Ralph Strangis at the Dallas Stars,
This is Ralph Strangis coming to you somewhere over the Rocky Mountains. Once again this season I’ve been given the task of ice-level reporter for NHL Radio for the Western Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals….
So now we head back to what might be the hardest building in the hardest city in the National Hockey League (Joe Louis Arena). I’ve also discovered there is actually a worse place to work a game than the press box of Joe Louis Arena and it is the bowels of Joe Louis Arena. I’ve been roaming underneath the stands, having beer spilled on me, rat traps are all over the place (and I’m not kidding), and during the overtime of Game Two I was literally under the bleachers right next to Chris Osgood behind the Detroit bench and could not see a thing. But I had to report from ice level like I could see something.
from the Detroit News,
It takes more than hockey players to put on an NHL playoff game. An entire crew of Joe Louis Arena employees, independent contractors and others works around the clock to make sure the Red Wings game runs smoothly.
For many, including those who handle team equipment, audio/visual needs and concessions, the workday isn’t half done when the first puck hits the ice.
If he’s a difference-maker, now would be a good time to show it.
Up to this point, any comparison of Pronger, a one-time Norris Trophy winner, to the Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom, who has won the award four times, has looked like a media invention for which we should apologize profusely to the elegant, nearly error-proof Lidstrom.
It’s been no-contest.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Overshadowed in the Pronger melodrama was the fact that Red Wings-Ducks match-up is slowly morphing into the most compelling playoff series since the opening round. Anaheim played its two best games of the series on the road and earned only a split. Detroit upped the tempo in the two games in Anaheim, held an overall edge in play, but also earned just the split. It’s hard to argue that the series isn’t exactly where it should be — deadlocked at 2-2 and waiting to see which team can raise the level of its play still another notch.
Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock put forward a theory the other day — that in most playoff series, one team tends to get better while another team tends to get worse. If that is the case and holds true, then the Red Wings are in the stronger position.
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
They may be a bit raw and certainly a tad too undisciplined for any hockey purist, but they certainly didn’t lack the courage to win.
That’s no small accomplishment, especially against a team as deep and as mentally tough as the Red Wings.
You knew coming in it could go only one of two ways for the Ducks. Never a particularly good team when Pronger was out of the lineup in the regular season, they had to decide whether they would suck it up and do whatever it took to make up for the loss of perhaps the league’s best two-way defenceman or do the old woe-is-me routine and falter in his absence.
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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