Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Most everyone is all over Mikael Backlund for his post-Game 5 comments about how there’s no way the Flames will lose to the Vancouver Canucks back in Calgary Saturday night.
In Van they’re outraged because of the arrogance, and in Calgary they’d like to shut him up much the way Vancouverites would have loved to stuff a sock in the mouth of Kevin Bieksa when he was saying Michael Ferland was irrelevant.
Flames fans don’t want Backlund providing any extra motivation than should already exist. So he’s hearing it from everyone now, which is why quotes from hockey players at this time of year generally tend to be even more bland than usual.
But perhaps people are not giving Backlund the credit he deserves. It just might be that he is a hockey historian of some repute and is simply examining the facts, which is to say the road history of the Canucks of late. It is not a pretty picture, and if you take a very close look at it, you might conclude just what Backlund boldly proclaimed.
If history is any kind of guide, there would be no way for Backlund’s Flames to lose Game 6.
Full playoff mode today...
from Neil Davidson of the CP at the Toronto Star,
The blue-chip Maple Leafs brand has survived bad seasons in the past. But 2014-15 took its toll.
“I’ll tell you there’s a bunch of us down here that are losing sleep about it,” said Dave Hopkinson, chief commercial officer for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
Toronto finished 27th in the league with a 30-44-8 record, losing 34 of its last 43 games and finishing with the NHL’s worst road record (8-27-6).
It took just two games for a disgusted fan to toss a Leaf jersey onto the ice, during a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh. More followed as the season went south.
“If there was a tipping point on fan frustration, I think we saw it this year,” Hopkinson said in an interview.
“Just the overall mood about this team around this city, I’ve never seen it that bad,” he added.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
Ten days ago Bob Nicholson had no real belief he was going to get Connor McDavid. Nor had he given any real thought to the idea of ever being able to hire Peter Chiarelli as his head of hockey operations and new general manager.
A week ago Wednesday, Chiarelli was fired by the Boston Bruins. Saturday the Edmonton Oilers won the right to draft Connor McDavid No. 1 overall. Monday Nicholson was made boss of everything for the Oilers Entertainment Group. Friday he introduced Chiarelli as the new President of Hockey Operations & General Manager.
As the bingo ball effect began to happen, Nicholson knew one thing. He had to move and move fast if he was going to get Chiarelli.
And Chiarelli knew one thing, first because his wife told him so and then because he figured it out on his own. He wasn’t meant to be out of hockey longer than five minutes.
Almost overnight the terrible team that spent nine seemingly endless seasons out of the playoffs made a lot of things go right.
It’s called seizing the moment.
“These are really exciting times for this organization,” said Nicholson about an hour and a half after the press conference had concluded to introduce Chiarelli.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
And so the Rangers are now 5-0 in potential series clinchers at the Garden over the last four years, and the common denominator to the team’s success is the uncommon goaltender named Henrik Lundqvist.
It’s on to the second round for the Blueshirts following Friday’s Game 5, 2-1 overtime triumph over the Penguins on Carl Hagelin’s goal from the right at 10:52. It’s on to the second round for the fourth straight season, a perhaps modest achievement, but not really, not in this NHL, not when the Rangers are the only team in the league to win at least one round every year beginning in 2012.
“It’s not a new feeling, but it’s not like you shrug your shoulders,” said Lundqvist, who turned in a sterling 37-save performance in withstanding the Penguins’ most stern challenge of this first round. “You don’t get too far in front of yourself, but you really appreciate the moment.”
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
There they go again, your St. Louis Blues, the most appropriately named franchise in professional sports. I can’t figure them out. Can you? Why do they insist on giving us the blues? They don’t need a better coach or game plan; they need to go sit on Dr. Phil’s couch. Maybe he can holler at them.
With a wonderful chance to take a crucial 3-2 series lead over the Minnesota Wild at home on Friday night, the Blues scored early and then skidded on their own flop sweat, losing 4-1 before a full house of oh-no disbelievers at Scottrade Center.
Instead of returning to the Twin Cities with an opportunity to put the Wild down and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Blues will seek to avoid elimination from the tournament for a 47th consecutive season.
With the galloping Wild up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, perhaps this will motivate the Blues to play their best hockey again. For some reason, the Blues require desperation for adrenaline, and their wake-up call is the sound of a crises. The Blues absolutely refuse to make it easy for themselves.
And of course it makes no sense. By now, any attempt to psychoanalyze the Blues will result in even more confusion and frustration.
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
So even though the Penguins don't want to end the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era, I'm not sure they're going to have a choice in the matter.
It's not that the franchise centers are unhappy. (They are, but they've been that way since last summer). They've lost faith in the direction of the franchise. And I'm not sure what can be said — especially to Malkin — to make things right.
Something has to be done in the wake of the Penguins' 2-1 series-ending overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday at Madison Square Garden that eliminated them from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Otherwise, the Penguins might have to sell another early playoff exit and a trade they'd rather not make.
Co-owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux could have a lot more to consider than whether to let pride — or stubbornness — get in the way of doing what's best for business. They must hire a new general manager, one who understands the NHL's not-so-new salary-cap dynamic, a hockey boss with autonomy to make hockey moves.
Because this isn't what Crosby and Malkin signed on for when each agreed to a second long-term contract at below market-value salary.
The Penguins are unrecognizable. They've gone from the marquee to the second stage. Or, put in hockey terms, from Stanley Cup contender to playoff pretender.
added 8:40am, from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
via the CP at NHL.com,
With 2:03 left in Ottawa's 5-1 victory on Friday night, Prust moved into the crease and brushed against Anderson, who responded with a stick jab in the back. Prust then began spearing the goaltender in the midsection and a skirmish broke out.
Prust was called for roughing and cross-checking and Patrick Wiercioch got a roughing minor, while P.K. Subban and Eric Gryba got 10 minute misconducts for a lively wrestling match.
"There's certainly frustration on their part," said Cameron. "A sure sign of frustration is when they're taking cheap shots at your goaltender, who's a real good player for us.
"Cheap, extremely cheap. Prust, I've known for a long time. I think he's a respectable guy. A real good player for a long time. But that was cheap what he did tonight."
Prust did not speak to the media after the game and coach Michel Therrien made no comment.
Anderson was unfazed by the incident.
"He's going to the net hard. It's just a battle of emotions there," said Anderson. "I'm fighting for my ice, he's fighting for his ice. I got a little stickwork, but no harm, no foul."
Watch the incident below...
The recap package put together by Sportsnet,
The NHL's version is below...
Don Cherry and Ron MacLean discuss the Jets’ elimination, Ottawa’s attitude against Montreal and the Lightning’s Tyler Johnson.
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.
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