Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
At this stage, the inner child comes out in nearly every hockey player and coach.
New Jersey Devils icon Martin Brodeur sounded like an excited teenager, not a seen-it-all 40-year-old goaltender Tuesday at media day for the Stanley Cup Final before their series against the Kings. You might have thought it was his first Final, not his fifth.
Less than an hour later, Kings captain Dustin Brown occupied a spot not far from where Brodeur had been seated. The baby-faced Brown — a father of three sons, no less — reached back into his early childhood when asked whether he had ever envisioned being handed the Stanley Cup by the commissioner.
“Have I thought about that? Yeah, I’ve thought about that since I was 4 years old,” Brown said.
That would have been 1988, so long ago that there was no commissioner of the NHL (Its leader was President John Ziegler Jr.). Also in 1988, the Edmonton Oilers won their fourth Stanley Cup in five years, led by future Kings star Wayne Gretzky.
And so, the boys of winter landed in New Jersey, becoming men of spring. A muggy spring at that.
In the next 4-7 games, we should be reading, watching and hearing about these topics.
The Wi-Fi is out in the building.
Adrian Dater will complain about an ex-Avs player, telling us how bad he was in Colorado.
Stan Fischler asking the first question in the post-game press conferences.
Erich Duhatschek having the first complete game story post-game.
Wayne Gretzky interviews.
The refs should let the boys play.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
It didn’t begin or end the way it was supposed to, but most of the time Red Kelly loved being the first coach of the Los Angeles Kings—loved his first coaching job, loved the team, hated the travel, and hated that his wife couldn’t stand living in Los Angeles….
“Yeah, I’m cheering for them,” said Kelly, 84 and in pretty good health “for an old guy.”
“When you’re there at the beginning, you have a feel for it. I’d like them to win. But I think they’re in tough against the (New Jersey) Devils.”
There were still months to go in Kelly’s last NHL season as a player—months before the Maple Leafs would win their final Stanley Cup—when the telephone rang at his home. It was Larry Regan, the general manager of the brand new Kings franchise, on the line.
“How would you like to be the first coach of the Kings?” Regan asked.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
“When Darryl got here, one of the first things he said was, ‘I’m not a video guy,’ “ (Bernie) Nicholls said as the Kings prepared to open the Stanley Cup final series Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils. “Geez, these guys do more video than when Roger Neilson was coaching. But it’s all teaching.
“You know we had that NHL 36 [TV show]. Darryl wouldn’t let them in the dressing because he hates cameras, but I really wish he would have let them in to see him go, because he’s amazing. I don’t think people realize how smart he really is. … He’s taught these guys so much, and he’s so prepared. He doesn’t let one thing get by him.
“Right now, [the players] feel like they can’t lose – and that’s how you want to be.”
Sutter joined the Kings last December, after the Kings had fallen to 12th place in the Western Conference and general manager Dean Lombardi reluctantly showed Murray the door.
So far in these playoffs, just about everything has fallen into place for the Kings. They are 12-2 and dispatched the West’s three divisional champions –Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes – to qualify for only the second Stanley Cup final appearance in franchise history.
According to Kings centre Jarret Stoll, the reality of Darryl Sutter doesn’t accurately match the reputation.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Special teams, we are always told, are the difference between champions and also-rans in the NHL playoffs.
Well, based on recent evidence, that is half-right, which might spell trouble for the New Jersey Devils when they open the Stanley Cup final Wednesday at home against the Los Angeles Kings. For it is penalty killing that is the crucial difference for Cup champions, not the power play, which gives the edge on paper to the Kings.
In the last four years, only one team, the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, that won the Stanley Cup cracked the top five in the postseason power-play statistics. However, all four champions except the Boston Bruins last year were in the top five in penalty killing. But the Bruins’ 84.4-per-cent success rate in 2011, which was sixth, was better than the Blackhawks in 2010 (83.3) and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 (83.3). In 2008, the Detroit Red Wings were fourth in the NHL playoffs with a success rate of 85.7 per cent.
So far in this year’s playoffs, the Kings’ power play is almost the same as the feeble unit iced by the 2011 Bruins, which was 14th among the 16 teams in the playoffs with an 11.4-per-cent success rate. The Kings are an embarrassing 8.1-per-cent on the power play, which puts them 15th in the post-season ranking.
from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,
No Vancouver Canucks since April 22. No Canadian teams since the Ottawa Senators quickly followed the Canucks out the first-round door. No Original Six teams. No Leafs - now wouldn’t that be something? - no Habs, no Rangers, Wings or Bruins. Not even the bitter-enemy Chicago Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup Final so Canuck faithful can root against them.
Instead, it’s Hollywood versus Newark, N.J., in this year’s NHL finale. Do you care? Should you care? Will you be watching? Or perhaps opting for a coed game of slo-pitch? Maybe even scraping the moss off your garage roof?
If you’re waffling, sitting on the fence and procrastinating, let us be your guiding light with these five reasons to watch the 2012 Stanley Cup Final that starts Wednesday:
5 Kings of Canadian content. The Devils’ roster is heavily based with Euros and Americans, so the Kings are the princes of Canadian content in this series. You can count ‘em up: 15 lads from the Great White North playing in La-La Land. We’ve already noted the presence of Willie Mitchell and Colin Fraser. Other good Canadian boys on the Kings going from west to east include: Saskatchewan’s Jarret Stoll and Dwight King; Manitoba’s Dustin Penner; Ontario’s Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Brad Richardson, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth; and Quebec’s Jonathan Bernier and Simon Gagne. Lest we forget Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, the Jolly Rancher from Viking, Alta.
read on for the other four reasons…
Video provided by The Score...
from Damien Cox of Ths Spin at the Toronto Star,
Then there’s the big one, the Stanley Cup, although the NHL hype machine is going to have to go into overdrive to make this one into a big attraction. The games will decide whether folks will be drawn into the best-of-seven series between Los Angeles and New Jersey; on its own, this one just isn’t that sexy. The NHL ceded ground in the continental sports conversation on the weekend to baseball, the endless NBA playoffs and the Indy 500, while north of the border cyclist Ryder Hesjedal stole all the biggest headlines.
Getting that attention back is going to be heavy lifting for the NHL.
Newark and downtown L.A. are almost movie studios, like false fronts in old westerns, when it comes to hockey. The game isn’t native to either location, and what they’ve been trying to sell with mixed success in SoCal for the past 45 years since Jack Kent Cooke brought hockey to the region still hasn’t taken permanent roots in New Jersey, where a shift from burbs of East Rutherford to the hardscrabble streets of Newark has yet to produce a positive change in attendance or interest.
Indeed, it’s at least theoretically possible the Devils might win the Cup next month and then soon after declare bankruptcy. We shall see.
“The style we’re watching? It is boring hockey. Really boring. Out-muscling, out-bumping. The game’s almost all played along the boards. In my day, as soon as I got the puck, I faced the play. Now, you watch (Anze) Kopitar, the way he protects the puck. He puts his back towards the defenceman, the defenceman can’t do anything. He goes to the left. Then he comes back to the right.
“In the meantime, nothing happens.
“Very seldom do you see a forward beat a defenceman one-on-one. Doesn’t happen. And the way Wayne (Gretzky) used to curl and trap guys? Very, very few players do this now. There’s just no room out there. And I think most of the guys are restricted in what they’re allowed to do.
“Sometimes you didn’t watch the game and later that night you see a replay and you say, `Oh, what a spectacular play! Must’ve been a great game!’ But that was the only frickin’ play in the whole frickin’ game.’‘
-Marcel Dionne, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. George Johnson of the Calgary Herald via Canada.com has more from Dionne, mostly LA Kings talk…
from ESPN Stats and Information,
1. This is the first time in NHL history that two American-born captains will square off in the Stanley Cup finals. Either Dustin Brown (Kings, Ithaca, N.Y.) or Zach Parise (Devils, Minneapolis) will join Derian Hatcher as the only U.S.-born captains of a Stanley Cup-winning team. Hatcher was the Dallas Stars’ captain when they won the Cup in 1999.
2. Martin Brodeur will attempt to become the ninth player in NHL history (and second goaltender) to win the Stanley Cup in three different decades. Brodeur played on Cup winners in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
From the Elias Sports Bureau:
Players to Win Stanley Cup in 3 Different Decades
Dit Clapper, Maurice Richard, Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Joe Nieuwendyk, Claude Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Mark Recchi.
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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