Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,
Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t exactly channel Yogi Berra, but he came close.
Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
Late Sunday night, after the Wild had allowed Game 5 to slip away 2-1 to the Blackhawks, Yeo said, “We’re in familiar territory again.”
These playoffs have become the Department of Redundancy Department. For the second consecutive series, the Wild lost a Game 5 on the road and faces a win-or-stay-home Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center. The opponents, Colorado and Chicago, are far different in pedigree. The feelings are nevertheless the same.
To know what was happening early Sunday night at United Center, you didn’t need HD TV or a 300-page pamphlet on how to figure out whether the NHL playoffs were being broadcast on CNBC, MSNBC, BBC or the Food Network. (Breaking news: Next year the playoffs will be seen on Uncle Luke’s Cable Access in Tupelo, Miss.)
All you had to do was listen.
With Mother’s Day weekend many were out with family. I, myself, spent yesterday at my mom’s house getting asked by my family for hockey updates and being asked to recap the playoffs thus far. Here are some hockey highlights (or low lights depending on what way you look at it).
In case you missed it Friday kicked off the start of the preliminary round for the IIHF World Championship taking place in Minsk, Belarus.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, NHL Talk, NHL Playoff Talk, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
from Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press,
As Minnesota Wild players filed into the visiting locker room at United Center, they walked to the same stalls they occupied in Games 1 and 2 out of habit.
But it quickly became apparent they were in the wrong spot, pads and nameplates serving as evidence.
After losing the first two games of their second-round series on the Chicago Blackhawks' home ice, the Wild switched things up before Game 5 in Chicago, hoping a different routine might yield different results.
The team stayed at a different hotel, occupied different locker stalls, went through a few different drills at the team's morning skate and left for the rink at a different time -- if only by a few minutes.
Some habits die hard, though.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
- One of the best in the league at any time, King Henrik is now 8-2 in his past 10 post-season games that the Rangers have faced potential elimination. Even better, after New York's 5-1 win at Pittsburgh on Friday, Lundqvist has a .953 save percentage and 1.38 goals against average in that 10-game stretch.
It may mean little if the Rangers forwards regress to the poor play they displayed earlier in the series, but given the suspect play of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5, the tone in this matchup may be starting to shift....
- Has the Minnesota Wild figured out the key to shutting down the Stanley Cup champions?
In a series that is turning out to be more interesting than many figured, the Wild are all square with the Hawks after four games and have been doing it by stifling the Chicago attack....
more on the Rangers and Wild plus a few more hockey topics...
Watch the hit below...
Coach Mike Yeo with his post-gme comments to the team....
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
The Wild has been branded a trapping team since the days of Jacques Lemaire, so any time a game borders on the boring side, critics usually assign fault to the Wild.
The neutral zone in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals was so congested, Wild and Chicago Blackhawks players looked as if they were skating through a labyrinth.
In the days since, the national media and hockey fans across the globe have analyzed the game like, “Same old Wild.” That has rubbed some inside the Wild the wrong way, especially because early in Tuesday’s game, it was clear the Blackhawks, perhaps after seeing the storm the Colorado Avalanche had to weather in Games 3 and 4 last round, tried to silence the Wild’s record crowd of 19,416 by sitting back in an attempt to limit the Wild’s ability to get through center ice and get on overpowering forechecks.
Slowly but surely the game turned into a hard-to-watch, neutral-zone chess match. Neither team could get through cleanly.
“Of course we’re going to be blamed for that. I mean, it’s the high-flying Hawks,” Zach Parise said, sarcastically.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Matt Cooke returns to the Minnesota Wild lineup for Friday’s Game 4 coming off his seventh suspension, the seven games he sat out for kneeing Colorado’s Tyson Barrie upping his career total to 32.
But Cooke continued to insist he’s a changed man, and that the Barrie play was the exception, not the rule.
“Although this one situation happened, I still believe and know that I’m in a good spot as far as the way I approach the game, to go out and play a physical style without being [risky],” Cooke said on Wednesday. “Obviously, there’s the one situation that’s going to be in my head that it happened, but I’m a firm believer in the work that I’ve put in to change the style, to change my approach to the game, to allow me to go out and have success.”
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has won a Stanley Cup and has a career playoff goals-against average of 2.01, yet he always seems to be picked apart by the critics.
The Wild has the fullest respect for him. After all, in seven playoff games over two years, Crawford has allowed 10 goals to Minnesota. After scoring three goals in the first two games of this series, the Wild wants to make life more difficult on him.
“We have to put more pressure on him,” coach Mike Yeo said. “He’s playing very well. I look at our net-front traffic on him; I don’t think it’s been enough through the two games.”
His job was made much easier in Game 2 Sunday as the Blackhawks allowed their fewest shots on goal in a single period all season (two). It balanced out in the second when the Wild fired 13 shots, with Crawford brushing off each one. In Game 1 Friday, he stopped all 17 second-period shots he faced.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
The Wild trailed 2-0 against Colorado last round, too. This 2-0 series to the Chicago Blackhawks has a different feel though.
Against the Avs, the Wild had the puck 65 percent of the time. Against the Avs, the Wild forced turnovers galore and often put together sustained pressure and suffocating forechecks. Against the Avs, the Wild scored 22 goals (3.1 a game) and 14 in four games in Denver (3.5 a game).
In Friday’s Game 1, 5-2, loss to Chicago, the Wild missed the net 18 times and maddeningly couldn’t score timely goals when it was controlling play. In Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Chicago, the Wild had 25 shots blocked … and maddeningly couldn’t score timely goals when it was controlling play....
Like I said, this series has a different feel. First of all, the Wild’s playing against the defending champs, a team experienced in the playoffs, not the newbie Avs. Second of all, the Wild’s playing against likely Norris winner Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson, four solid, experienced, mobile defensemen, not the newbie Avs who could be exposed easily.
The Wild seemed flat in several areas, and coach Mike Yeo concurred afterward, saying the seven-game series caught up to Minnesota in Sunday’s afternoon game. That’s why I felt Game 1 was integral to win. Against the more rested team when you’re the team coming off a long, draining, emotional series, it usually catches up to the tired team later in the next round.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org