Kukla's Korner Hockey
I am looking forward to both games today.
Washington has a little more offensive firepower than the Rangers but the Capitals could be shut down by the defense of New York.
To me, the key to the series is Marian Gaborik, how he goes, the Rangers go.
Kings/Blues may be the most physical series of the Conference Semi-Finals. A lot of big bodies on the ice for both teams, this should be a seven game series.
Key to this series is the goaltending of Quick.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If the players thought the atmosphere ramped up in Round 1, it will only intensify now that the field has been whittled down to four teams in the Western Conference and four in the Eastern Conference.
“You wake up this morning and there are 22 teams out and there are eight in ... that’s significant,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who has been in the second round six times in his coaching career, winning one Stanley Cup. “That’s a lot of teams out, a lot of good teams are not playing. Especially in the West, I’m sure all four teams think this is the best chance we might ever have to get to the finals. When you get down to eight teams, it really boils down to who wants to play and who wants to play the longest.
“I’ve always said the first two rounds are the best two rounds because you’re the freshest, you’re the healthiest. I believe the third and fourth rounds become survival for both teams. But I think these first two rounds are the best two rounds, period. The hockey in this round will be even better than the first round.”
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
If ever an NHL playoff series should be sponsored by Starbucks, it surely would be the one featuring the Kings and the Blues.
The bar was set when they didn’t score in their last meeting, on March 22, needing four rounds of a shootout to decide the issue. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter joked the other day that without a shootout they might still be playing that game.
Game 1 is tonight in St. Louis and the fear of multiple overtimes is well-founded, keeping in mind the defensive prowess of the teams and the considerable talents of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, a Vezina Trophy finalist, and his Blues’ counterpart, Brian Elliott.
Purists embrace the absence of the shootout when it comes to playoffs. Even some purists, however, embrace the concept of sleep, which may be in short supply after Kings-Blues games.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The busiest man in professional sport this past week was Lee Zeidman and when you learn his job description, you’ll know why. Zeidman is senior vice president and general manager of the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and it fell to him to handle the perfect scheduling storm: Three professional sports teams, all tenants in the same building, trying to figure out a playoff schedule that would keep all the interested parties happy.
Many sports facilities across the United States and Canada share space between NHL and NBA teams – Chicago, with the Bulls and Blackhawks, Toronto with the Maple Leafs and Raptors, New York with the Knicks and Rangers, Boston with the Celtics and Bruins – but L.A. is the only city with three teams operating in the same building, the NHL’s Kings plus the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers.
Usually, it isn’t an issue. The Clippers have been an NBA also-ran for much of their existence and the Kings have only made the playoffs in three of the past nine seasons. This year, they’re all in and the Kings are through to the second round for the first time since 2001.
In an era when the needs of competing television networks often trump all, it made for some complicated negotiations, and they were right down to the wire.
continued plus other NHL topics…
from Noah Love of the National Post,
Can anyone beat the Nashville defence?
Before the playoffs, the Predators seemed a bit of a paper (sabre-toothed) tiger. After acquiring three key players — Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad and Hal Gill — at the trade deadline and having prodigal son Alex Radulov return to the fold, they had a wildly inconsistent stretch run at the end of the regular season as new and old personnel struggled to gel. But there was no sign of dysfunction as Nashville dispatched of the Detroit Red Wings in five fairly ruthless games. Yes, goaltender Pekka Rinne faced 37 shots in Game 1, 43 in Game 3 and 41 in Game 4, but Nashville’s defence kept Detroit’s finesse forwards to the edges. Weak shots were routinely fired, without obstruction, from the blue line or the top of the circle. Rinne was rarely troubled by the long-distance onslaught. Having said that, Phoenix has a much bigger forward group that will likely test Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and company a bit more than the Wings did.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The many faces of Darryl Sutter are familiar to most hockey fans across Canada.
Those in Calgary have especially vivid memories of the man who arrived in 2003 as a saviour and departed nine years later on a cross, guilty of mismanaging the salary cap and leaving the Flames with an aging, overpriced roster.
Now, depending upon the day, you can run across Rustic Darryl, Charming Darryl or Sourpuss Darryl at the Los Angeles Kings training facility, where the NHL team is patiently awaiting the start of its second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
Sometimes, you can find yourself face to face with Mumbling Darryl, Grumbling Darryl, or – during these past few days – Chatty Darryl or Gregarious Darryl. Engaging Darryl has made the occasional appearance.
Once play starts again in the Western Conference, you’re more apt to get Reticent Darryl or Confrontational Darryl or even Contrarian Darryl, depending upon the situation and message the head coach wants to impart.
NEW YORK (April 25, 2012) – The National Hockey League today announced the schedule for the first four games for both of the Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference Semifinals.
The series between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators will begin on Friday, April 27th, and will continue with Game 2 on Sunday, April 29th, with both games being played in Phoenix. Game 3, in Nashville, is scheduled for Wednesday, May 2nd and Game 4 will be Friday, May 4th, also in Nashville.
The series featuring the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings will begin on Saturday, April 28th, in St. Louis. Game 2 will be Monday, April 30th, also in St. Louis. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 6th, respectively.
The complete Eastern and Western Conference Semifinals schedule, including start times and television information, will be released upon conclusion of the Conference Quarterfinal round Thursday night.
Jarret Stoll with the OT winner, Kings win 2-1 and win the series 4-1.
Western Conference Semi-Finals picture…
St. Lous Blues/Los Angeles Kings
Phoenix Coyotes or Chicago Blackhawks/Nashville Predators (Nashville will have home ice if they face Chicago)
added 11:06pm, Added Stoll OT goal…
added 11:15pm, Game highlights are below…
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
If you don’t like the personality of Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, then simply wait five minutes for the cold front to swirl out the door….
Sutter was at his contrarian and charming best Thursday, all within about an hour on the day after the Kings’ first stumble in the playoffs this season, a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. In between there was some vintage, “sarcastic-ness,” a word invented by defenseman Drew Doughty the other day, in an effort to explain Sutter’s impact.
The Kings hold a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Canucks. Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday in Vancouver but a start time has not been announced by the league….
“It’s only the Stanley Cup playoffs, only Game 5,” Sutter said. “But we don’t know what time we’re playing Sunday. And we have to set travel and practice plans. I hope it’s not interfering with anything else.”
Kevin Bieksa scored the game winner midway in the 2nd period and the Canucks would add an insurance goal to defeat the LA Kings 3-1.
Here is Bieksa’s goal.
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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