Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Sean Gregory of Time,
What a dream series for the NHL. The league’s two best players, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are going goal for goal, assist for assist, in an Eastern Conference semifinal series headed for a deciding Game 7 Wednesday night. In Game 2, a captivating 4-3 Capitals win, both guys scored hat tricks. Five of the games have been decided by one goal, and three have gone into overtime.
It’s a once-in-a-decade duel — the kind of rare treat that somehow exceeds the hype. So tonight, tune into channel 603, and catch the last game of an instant classic.
That’s right: channel 603, square in television’s Yukon Territory. Since the hockey playoffs are on Versus, formerly known as the Outdoor Life Network, viewers in many markets will have to search the hinterland of channel listings in order to watch the games….
Due to Versus’ limited carriage and penalty box position on many channel lineups, what should be a transcendent series for hockey in America is barely cracking mainstream consciousness. Versus has carried all of the Penguins-Caps series except for Game 1, which NBC broadcast on May 2, and has averaged 1.04 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. The series is drawing a smaller audience than last year’s College Baseball World Series, on ESPN, when it averaged 1.4 million viewers.
As I have mentioned in the past, hockey fans will watch, casual sports fans, those that click the remote trying to find a game, will not watch. Not many people have Versus in their ‘favorites’ list and it is too bad, they will be missing a great game tonight.
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Where does it begin with the Blackhawks, who have turned it around in one season? Was it when they replaced head coach Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville only four games into the season? The only thing wrong with that decision was that it should have been made during the offseason to avoid embarrassing Savard, one of Chicago’s truly great stars as a player.
How much did the hiring of a chap named Scotty Bowman as a consultant help? My guess is his counsel contributed greatly.
Scotty always has been very good at avoiding the spotlight when he isn’t the guy in charge, but he’s a wise old bird who always has been free with his opinion on all matters, even when it isn’t sought. The camera caught him often during the series with Vancouver sitting in a private box alongside Chicago GM Dale Tallon, and you can be sure the latter’s ears were left ringing after every game.
from Damine Cox of the Toronto Star,
It was not a good day for Jim Balsillie’s public relations offensive.
First, sources indicated yesterday that Wayne Gretzky is “supportive” of the plan presented by Chicago sports czar Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep them in Arizona. Gretzky would stay with the team as head coach under the ownership of a group of investors headed by Reinsdorf that would conditionally offer an estimated $130 million (U.S.) for the troubled Phoenix club.
Second, despite North American economic conditions some suggest are the worst since the Great Depression, Balsillie is reportedly seeking more than $120 million (Cdn.) in federal and provincial handouts to renovate Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum if he can purchase the Coyotes out of bankruptcy and bring them north.
from Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe,
Claude Julien’s skaters are attempting to do what no Bruins team has done in 20 previous tries: come back to win a series after trailing, three games to one. Milt Schmidt’s Bruins couldn’t do it in 1947 against the Canadiens. Bobby Orr and Friends couldn’t do it against the Rangers in ‘73. Cam Neely and Ray Bourque couldn’t make it happen in ‘95 against the Devils.
So it’s up to Chara and Tim Thomas to boldly go where no Bruins have gone.
“From the time we fell behind, three games to one, our goal was to create Game 7,” said Julien (who enjoyed one of those Bill Belichick nights in which everything he touched turned to gold). “We’re there now. We need to decide what we’re going to do with it.”
The elbow from Scott Niedermayer on Pavel Datsyuk can bee seen around the 1:35 minute mark.
added 6:32am, from Ansar Khan Mlive,
Datsyuk shrugged it off as just a part of hockey.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Datsyuk said. “It’s not my priority.”
Said Niedermayer: “There was a lot going on, I don’t know how it all started. The next thing you know my gloves are off. That doesn’t happen too often. I didn’t even know who it was at first. I took a couple of punches to the face. I guess after a couple, I figured I’d try a couple.”
added 6:48am, from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell will have some video to watch after Scott Niedermayer elbowed Datsyuk in the final seconds of the game, which led to a fight between the two at the buzzer. But given the fact a precedent has been set allowing players to cold-cock unsuspecting opponents in the face in this year’s playoff tournament, don’t count on anything coming down.
more on game 6…
Ducks were the more desperate team to force game 7 on Thursday in Detroit.
added 6:39am, from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
“It’s going to be awesome. It’s exciting. This is what we play for,” said Getzlaf, who scored the Ducks’ first goal, during a power play, and took the shot that was redirected by Corey Perry past Chris Osgood for their second goal, both during the second period. “We’re excited to go into Detroit and try and get a win.”
They wouldn’t have had that chance if not for his stellar effort, a 38-save performance by a well-protected Jonas Hiller and a focused effort by the Ducks that fractured occasionally but never broke….
“I think they were more desperate tonight than we were,” Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We had too many turnovers that created more time in our zone than we wanted to.”
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail (Thursday edition),
“I just wish it was for the final,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, his face red from the excitement, said after Game 6.
So all of hockey wishes, for this has already been a series for the ages: Ovechkin, the world’s most exciting player, against Sidney Crosby, perhaps the world’s best player and certainly Canada’s best; a series that has already had three games go into overtime; a series in which five games were decided by a single goal, one by two; a series where the lead can change quicker than Ovechkin’s early-game and late-game stick curves.
It is hard to believe Crosby, the remarkable 21-year-old captain of the Penguins, has never before played in a Game 7, never before experienced the very thing he says he dreamed of as a little kid in the basement, in the driveway, in the backyard rinks when he was growing up in Nova Scotia.
Ovechkin, 23, had his own dreams growing up in Russia, and it has come true and even beyond true in recent years. “My dream,” he said Tuesday, “was to be one of the best.”
from Jeff Z. Klein of SlapShot at the NY Times,
In the 44 games that made up the first round of this year’s playoffs, the average number of goals per 60 minutes of play was 5.0 — a level of constriction that fans have had to deal with in the N.H.L. post-season for close to 15 years.
But the average for the 22 games of the second round played through Monday has risen. It’s at 5.75 goals per game. (That figure includes the 41 extra minutes of overtime Anaheim needed to beat Detroit on May 3; without that OT the average is 5.9.) That is a big jump, and a heartening one for fans of more wide-open, creative play. It includes Monday’s 5-4 overtime gem in which the Capitals beat the Penguins to force Wednesday’s Game 7, as well as the 7-5 festival of goals through which Chicago eliminated Vancouver on Monday.
On to Boston for game 7 on Thursday, game starts a little after 8:00pm ET.
added 10:29pm via Fluto Shinzawa of Bruins Blog at the Boston Globe,
Claude Julien said Marc Savard will be good to go in Game 7. Savard left the game at 6:12 of the third period with a knee injury.
from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,
After years of blundering and tinkering, the NHL finally is hitting the formula that works, letting its stars shine, and they’re responding with unscripted drama. This should be a bright new era for the league, with great young players everywhere, from the obvious—Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin—to the not-so-obvious kids in Chicago, where the Blackhawks have fans there giddy again.
Now, all the league needs to do is find a network that most people actually get. Nothing against Versus, which does a decent job, but the NHL has earned a wider national audience, and it’s ridiculous Gary Bettman hasn’t solved the issue and revisited ESPN….
The Stanley Cup playoffs are must-see TV again; it’s just a shame that for many, it’s can’t-find TV on Versus. NBC’s weekend coverage is a boost, but if the NHL ever gets smart and works its way back to ESPN, look out.
The league still has issues, including its inconsistent officiating and peculiar calls. Some people hate that, especially when, say, a tying goal by a Wing is waved off in the final minute. No excuse there, but it does add to the quirkiness, and it sure hasn’t stopped us from watching.
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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