Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
The Canadiens will work out roughly 12 hours before knowing whether they’ll face the Detroit Red Wings or Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 2.
“No cheering from the press box,” the sportswriting saying goes, impartiality required to properly cover a game.
Well, forgive me if I cheer unashamedly for the Red Wings on Wednesday night in their sudden-death tilt vs. the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the history of hockey and the legends and the traditions of the game. With all due respect to the Lightning, the Red Wings leave them in the dust in that regard.
The view from this keyboard, not to disrespect some wonderful rivalries throughout the NHL, is that Original Six playoff hockey trumps all. It was a special atmosphere when the Canadiens swept the Lightning in their Eastern quarter-final last season, but there was something magical when they beat the Bruins and then fell to the Rangers.
Maybe it’s the magnificent crests on the jerseys. Maybe it’s the history woven through them. But in a 30-team NHL, a meeting between two of the “original” clubs is cause for celebration.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he needed time to reflect on the season before making a decision as to whether he'll return as coach of the Blues next season.
"I need time," Hitchcock said. "I need time to reflect, some time to evaluate right now, what I've done, what I've accomplished, what's happened to us, both positive, a lot of it, and the negative, which goes with the territory. I feel like I've let people down right now and I need to look at that and what needs to improve and I want time and space to evaluate it. I'll sit down with Doug, we've been together a long time, I know how good a coach I am, I know what I can do."
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The playoffs are not yet two weeks old and the first round is moving inexorably toward its close. Here are some things that have made us go, "Hmmm" during what has been a rocking postseason ride.
- Have to feel for Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury who ended his playoff year with a .927 save percentage in five games and allowed more than two goals just once (in the Pens' 4-3 win in Game 2). The former whipping boy was the team's best player by a country mile, not that you'll hear much about that in Pittsburgh, where another disappointing playoff exit will sharpen the calls for further change in personnel and beyond.
- Not going to throw Ryan Miller under the bus, but Vancouver fans have to be feeling more than a little let down as the Canucks were steamrolled in Game 6 of their first-round series against the upstart Calgary Flames by a 7-4 count. The Canucks could not hold a 3-0 first-period lead and then, when Eddie Lack was replaced by Miller, they could not hold a 4-3 lead as the Flames torched (sorry, couldn't resist) the Canucks for four third-period markers to advance to the second round for the first time since their trip to the 2004 finals. Miller ended up allowing four goals on 25 shots. Coming off injury, Miller likely shouldn't have been playing, which speaks to his character, as he helped extend the series with a win in Game 5. But the results were certainly not what the Canucks were hoping when they signed the former U.S. Olympic hero and Vezina Trophy winner to a three-year deal last summer.
Home Team in Caps
Tampa Bay 5, DETROIT 2 – series tied 3-3
WASHINGTON 2, NY Islanders 1 – WSH wins series 4-3
KUZNETSOV POWERS CAPITALS PAST ISLANDERS, INTO SECOND ROUND
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the tiebreaking goal with 7:18 remaining in regulation to lift the Capitals past the Islanders and into the Second Round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Capitals improved to 4-9 all-time in Game 7s. Their last such victory was on April 25, 2012, when Joel Ward scored the series-clinching goal at 2:57 of overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at BOS.
from Ted Leonsis of Ted's Take,
Home ice advantage paid off in a big way last night.
Our fans were magnificent. Loud, proud, and supportive and caring and happy!
I am so very grateful to all of you. It was a sea of RED, and there was a positive vibe and an air of confidence in the building all night. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The series was as advertised. So close, so competitive. The Islanders have a great young team, and had to over come much adversity, the series couldn't have been much more competitive and I am so very grateful that the Caps won the series as our fan base is so deserved to continue to see NHL play off hockey into May.
from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog,
The Capitals took a new slogan into this spring. It sounds like a cliche — okay, it is a cliche — but that didn’t matter.
“I hear it all the time,” Joel Ward said after Washington’s series-clinching 2-1 win over the Islanders on Monday night.
“Going through the battle instead of going around it,” Nicklas Backstrom said, repeating the slogan.
Backstrom said the whole team uses it. But the phrase’s most colorful deployment came a few moments earlier, when Coach Barry Trotz addressed his team with the doors closed.
“We talked about going through it instead of around it,” Trotz told his players, in footage posted by Monumental Network. “We went [expletive] through it today, okay? You got a little test there today when they got it 1-1. There was no doubt. There was no [expletive] doubt.”
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Here's what bothered me most about the Blues' first-round ejection by the Minnesota Wild: there was little pushback from a very good St. Louis team that had every reason to bring an intense level of hunger and desperation to the competition.
After being shoved out of the postseason for three consecutive years, including first-round eliminations in 2013 and 2014, Blues' players knew what was at stake this time around.
Their impressive body of work in the regular season was on the line. Since Ken Hitchcock became coach in November 2011, the Blues had the most wins in the NHL. But what did they have to show for it, really? Nothing other than a first-round triumph over San Jose in 2012. The hockey world was watching: would the Blues finally man up and get something done when it really mattered?
Blues' players had their reputations on the line. The longtime core of David Backes, Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Barret Jackman and — to a lesser extent — Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk were a big part of the nucleus that has a history of underachievement in the Stanley Cup tournament. Some of their individual postseason resumes were terrible.
So what would they do with another opportunity to silence the critics and skeptics and prove that the had the necessary fiber to seriously contend for a championship? Would they post up with an abundance of personal and collective pride?
from Mark Hermmann of Newsday,
Hockey has no prescribed ritual to mark the end of an era. It has only the traditional end-of-series handshake line, which didn't do justice to the Islanders' loss Monday night. This one meant the end of the Islanders as a Long Island team. And it was a distant farewell to Nassau Coliseum.
The only responses were sadness, quiet and thanks, with an emphasis on the latter. Thanks to the Coliseum for being such a worthy home for 43 years and thanks to the people who always went there.
"It's hard to believe it's over. You put so much into the season, into the series," John Tavares said after a 2-1 loss to the Capitals in Game 7. Referring to Islanders fans, he added, "We're disappointed for them. I don't think we talked about it a whole lot, but we knew what this season meant, playing at the Coliseum. How they responded to us was absolutely tremendous."
added 8:52am, from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It will be different now, will have a different flavor when the Battle of New York becomes an inter-borough rivalry. If the Islanders can build off this season that ultimately built unrealized expectations and left unrealized the dream of one more playoff showdown against the Rangers, then the next stage of the rivalry can be as satisfying as the first phase.
And really, remembering the romance of the Coliseum is a fine thing, but the Islanders sure couldn’t have thought it romantic for most of the last 20 years in which their own fans were outnumbered in their old building by Ranger fans, and often by a sizeable margin.
Fans on the Island probably don’t want to hear this as any more than the employees of Sterling Cooper wanted to hear it when it came out of Don Draper’s mouth, but it’s true: “Hold on. It’s not the end. It’s the beginning.”
It’s the beginning of Rangers-Islanders and the Battle of Brooklyn.
I lost count of the bleeps after 4....
Here is a two minute recap...
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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