Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider,
“I don’t know why, but last game, I don’t feel that power or something,” Ovechkin said to the throng of media. “I talked to Bruce, and how I said, I didn’t play my game at all last night. It’s not about Montreal. It’s all about me.”
That may be true. But the Canadiens also deserve credit. In fact, they’ve held Ovechkin without a goal four times in five games this season and without a point on three occasions.
Ovechkin saw all three Canadiens defensive pairs early and was matched up a lot against Jaroslav Spacek in the third period. It wasn’t just Spacek, though. It was the combination of Montreal’s veteran defensemen getting in Ovechkin’s face and the Habs’ forwards diligently applying pressure from back side. The end result? Ovechkin had nowhere to go with the puck.
“He’s been played like this,” Boudreau said. “It’s not a secret. Everybody plays him like this.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Montreal’s little men played big, the hometown stars played small and my goodness, Toto, do the Capitals ever know they’re not in Kansas anymore.
See, the last two playoffs were easy for the Boys from D.C. They were cool, they scored goals, they had swagger, they won some and lost some and went home with everyone believing their best days were ahead.
Then came these Stanley Cup playoffs. Brand new enchilada. Being the favourites, having lapped the field during regular season, created an entirely new dynamic that the Caps, quite frankly, didn’t seem to handle very well in their playoff opener against Montreal.
If I played for the Washington Capitals, I wouldn’t worry that Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak was just a tad more brilliant than Theodore in net Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the supposed indomitable Caps and the allegedly helpless Habs; I’d worry my team was out-shot, out-skated and outplayed in overtime of a siren-sounding loss to start the NHL postseason.
-Mike Wise of the Washington Post. More from Mike.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Ovechkin talked to the media after the game and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Was there anything in particular that was going wrong for you tonight?
Ovechkin: I think our line didn’t play in their zone at all. We had a couple of chances and we score one, but still we didn’t play our game like we want to.
Q: Was the reason you couldn’t play in the zone a lot more about what you did wrong or what they did right?
Ovechkin: I think it’s all about us. If we had a chance to play in the zone and they got the puck they just put the puck in the neutral zone and we had to go back. I don’t know. Maybe we just have to play simple. Maybe we have to play more close to each other. I don’t know. We’re going to think about it, watch the game and make some changes.
Tomas Plekanec with the game winner. Looks like it could be a longer series than most expected.
If the post-season odds were not already stacked against the Montreal Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec may have added some fuel to the fire on Tuesday by giving the Washington Capitals some bulletin board material.
In an interview with Montreal newspaper La Presse, Plekanec took a swipe at the Capitals’ goaltending.
“It’s not as though we are facing (Martin) Brodeur or (Ryan) Miller,” Plekanec told La Presse. “They don’t have a dominant goaltender. When you look at the goaltending matchup in this series it favours our team. I just believe that our goaltending is more solid than theirs.”
“I’m not saying their goalies are bad. I’m just saying our goalies are better.”
Plus a little note on Ovechkin, who left practice early, via a Tarik El-Bashir tweet,
Speculation around KCI is that Alex Ovechkin isn’t 100-percent. But he will play Thursday.
from the CP at TSN,
The Montreal Canadiens are hoping that Columbus forward R.J. Umberger was right when he said the Washington Capitals play the “wrong way” to win in the playoffs, but they’re not counting on it.
The Canadiens will be decided underdogs when they face the top-seeded Capitals in the opening round of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final on Thursday night in Washington (TSN, 7 p.m. ET).
The Capitals finished 33 points ahead of the Canadiens in the regular season and scored 101 more goals. The 70 points amassed by Montreal’s top scorer Tomas Plekanec would place him fifth on the Capitals.
But for all their firepower, led by Alex Ovechkin’s 50 goals and 109 points, the Capitals are perceived by some as vulnerable to a playoff upset because of their loose defensive play and lack of a top-notch goaltender.
How big is tonight’s Canadiens game against the Carolina Hurricanes? So big that all of Mayberry is bypassing the big social up in Mount Pilot to go tailgating in Raleigh. So big… well, you make up your own scenarios.
-Dave Stubbs of Habs Inside/Out. More from Dave as the Canadiens look for one more point.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette at Faceoff.com,
If the Canadiens decide to shed one of their young goaltenders during the offseason, there’s a veteran goaltender who just might jump at the idea of serving as a backup/mentor to whichever goaltender remains with the team.
We’re talking about the Islanders’ Marty Biron, who is making the most of a discouraging season with a strong finish. He is 7-1-2 in his last nine starts after posting a 4-3 shootout win over the Canadiens last night.
There’s a certain amount of self-interest when media folks talk about having Biron in your home city. That’s because the 32-year-old native of Lac St. Charles is one of the best interviews in the league in either of Canada’s official languages.
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
Somewhere in the final period in Philadelphia Friday night, Jaroslav Halak might have won what has eluded him for so long in this town:
A little respect.
Here he was in a critical, four-point game against the hated Flyers, on the road in Philly where the Canadiens have never fared well. His teammates were beaten, sagging so badly they managed only three shots on net in the third period.
Shot by shot, save by save, Halak scrapped and battled and fought to preserve that 1-0 lead in front of a braying, hostile crowd.
Against all odds, Halak pulled it off. Won that game with the absolute minimum of offensive support.
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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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