Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
The Minnesota Wild brought their ‘‘A’’ game to the United Center on Friday and still lost 5-2 to the Blackhawks.
Thanks for coming, Wild men. Don’t forget to pick up your lovely parting gifts.
I say that for purely selfish reasons. The Wild want to muck it up, to slow the game down, to bring the Hawks down to their level and to make onlookers want to take up solitaire for excitement’s sake.
In the name of hockey aesthetics, this must be stopped.
If the Wild win the series, boring wins. Graduation speeches win. Mime performances win. Do you understand the gravity of the situation?
The only team that can stop the Hawks from winning three more games in this series is theirs. The challenge will be avoiding the very real hazard of playing their opponent’s game.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
He danced through the Minnesota defense as they picked their poison between him and Patrick Sharp, dusting Ryan Suter and splitting Jonas Brodin and Kyle Brodziak — the Wild’s top two defensemen and one of their top shutdown forwards — before roofing a backhander over Ilya Bryzgalov to break a tie and unleash a deafening roar at the United Center.
As Kane raced to his teammates to celebrate, he twice appeared to yell, “Showtime!” — fitting, given the highlight-reel nature of the goal and his usual penchant for the dramatic.
“Did it look like I said that?” Kane said with a smile. “Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m saying. I was pretty pumped up after that one. You kind of get in your own little world. I don’t know. I don’t even know what I said, to be honest with you.”
read on for more on the game and watch the Kane goal below...
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
After a riveting seven-game, emotional roller coaster of an opening round, the Wild must move on. The Wild spent Thursday trying to refocus its minds and reset for the next arduous challenge ahead.
Friday night at United Center, the Wild turns the page on the Central Division-champion Avalanche and opens the Western Conference semifinals against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks — a playoff-tested juggernaut that dispatched the Wild in five games last spring.
The Blackhawks are playing their best hockey of the season. They are rested, too, while the Wild is coming off that grueling physical and mental battle that ended only two days ago. It also enters the series with yet another messed-up goalie situation with Ilya Bryzgalov set to start and Darcy Kuemper once again injured.
For the first time in two weeks, the Wild spent Thursday prepping for a team other than Colorado. The teams play different styles and systems, especially in the defensive zone, where the Avs are one of a handful that play man-to-man defense.
FYI, Ilya Bryzgalov will be the starter for the Wild tonight...
via the Minnesota Wild PR department,
Game seven of the National Hockey League’s first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche was the highest-rated telecast ever in FOX Sports North history. The Wild’s midweek match-up against the Avalanche generated a 16.4 household rating in the Minneapolis – St. Paul DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research. The previous record, a 15.3 rating, was logged in August of 2010 by the Minnesota Twins (vs. White Sox).
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
What a tough loss that was. It was as big a gut punch of a loss as you can get. Forget the “this is a young team, there will be other kicks at the can in the future” meme. This was a really tough loss for Avs fans to take, and trust me, it wasn’t any easier on the players in the locker room, as the above photo of Ryan O’Reilly shows.
Four one-goal leads in a Game 7 at home. Four blown one-goal leads. One great two-on-one chance in overtime, with Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog looking like they were ready to win this thing finally. One great breakup of the play by Ryan Suter, followed by a Dany Heatley (Dany Heatley) lead pass up the ice for an odd-man rush to Nino Niederreiter (Nino Niederreiter) for a game-winning OT goal.
It was all one big, cruel piece of irony for Avs fans in the end. The team that always found a way to win games like these just kept trying to find ways to lose the biggest one of all to this point – and succeeded.
I don’t want to get into a big rip job on the team about this. I always thought what this team did during the regular season deserved major appreciation, and I won’t dump on it all after one OT loss in a Game 7.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
What a victory. The Wild never led til that final Niederreiter shot, it overcame a goal that probably should have been wiped out to open the game when Jamie McGinn was on top of Darcy Kuemper, it overcame a rollercoaster of emotions all game long. And it controlled play most the game. The Avs went through long stretches without chances, but as we have learned all series, it doesn’t take much for Colorado to bury one.
“I’m incredibly proud of our guys right now,” Yeo said. “This game in a lot of ways reflected the series, just continually having to battle, and battle back and deal with adversity and keep pushing forward. Obviously very proud.”
more on the game and watch the OT goal by Nino Niederreiter below...
added 8:49am, The second video below is Clayton Stoner of the Wild being mic'd up for the OT goal, goes through the handshake line and into the Wild dressing room...
Thankfully, no penalty on the play against the Wild...
After picking the winning team in six of the eight first round series it is time to make predictions for the second round set to face off tonight already as the Montreal Canadiens visit Boston to take on the Bruins at 7:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN, CBC, and RDS
Boston Bruins over Montreal Canadiens in 6
After eliminating the Lightning in four games the Canadiens have at the longest out of any of the second round teams. Boston, predicted by many to be cup favorites, took out the Detroit Red Wings and exposed them as a young team that still needs to smooth out their game before contender status can be given back to those in the Winged Wheel.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Talk, NHL Playoff Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
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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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