Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Kelley of Sportsnet,
What does disturb me about the absence of Crosby and Ovechkin (and the decidedly indifferent play of talented but lackadaisical performers like Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin) is not who is or is not on TV, but the way teams can shut down star players and not worry about the supporting cast. The defensive pairing of Hall Gill and Josh Gorges pretty much concentrated on Crosby and Ovechkin and said (in thought at least) let your “other players” beat us.
And that’s the problem with the so-called “new economic order.” Teams that invest heavily in key players—and by example, the Penguins have $21 million in centres Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal—find themselves between a rock and a hard place. These are the players that fans pay to see throughout the regular season, and in a salary-capped world these are the players whom management has to pay top dollar in order to keep the fans coming back.
But here’s the problem: In theory the so-called “wide-open game” that was said to have evolved after the lockout has been corrupted somewhat by poor officiating (especially this season) and a loosening of restrictions on defencemen that has crept back into the game under the guise of “restoring the physicality” of the game that was thought to be lost or at least threatened after that first comeback season.
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from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
A good post-season always thrusts people into the spotlight, and Montreal’s early-round success is the biggest story so far. They’ve needed the maximum 14 games, but that shouldn’t take anything away from the Canadiens’ brilliant preparation for both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
This isn’t to say Muller is solely responsible, but anyone who watched his 19-year career can see him in the plan. The Canadiens found ways to neutralize and frustrate the league’s three most dangerous offensive players - Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It’s really an amazing accomplishment, and it’s the kind of thing Muller would do many times in his 1,349-game NHL lifetime.
Clearly, Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin respects his expertise, since Muller gets prime face time during in-game timeouts. However, his greatest asset may be in understanding every possible emotion a player can go through.
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
...And while tonight’s game will represent the biggest of many of his players’ careers, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is not about to heighten the pressure by borrowing Fred Shero’s “Win Today And We Will Walk Together Forever” inscriptions.
“Win tonight and we’re at the halfway point,” Laviolette said Thursday. “. . . I don’t know if that’s going to get ‘em going or not.”
But for those who believe this is all about making history, there is Laviolette to provide perspective.
“The end game to me is still that big, silver shiny thing,” Laviolette said. “What happens along the ride would be great. Any time you can attach your name as a group to something in sports history I think that’s a positive ting. But to me, man, I sure would like to be one of those final four teams.
I may be in the minority today, but I am picking Boston tonight. How about you?
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
When Gary Bettman signed off his weekly XM Satellite radio show Thursday night after many feel-good calls from listeners, the fade out was Long May You Run by Neil Young.
If the NHL can keep this playoff vibe rolling, the commish could soon be joining Young, son of a hockey writer and a big Sharks’ fan, for a duet of Sugar Mountain. And that’s after the league lost its two marquee marksmen, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, courtesy of the Canadiens.
Aside from Wednesday’s night’s aggressive window shopping by a few Montreal louts, it’s a grand time to be a hockey fan, whether you’re the pin-striped Bettman or wearing the jersey of the five surviving teams.
from Eric Adelson of Yahoo,
The hockey gods are laughing now. They snicker in the still of Pittsburgh, chuckle in the dark corridors of NHL offices in New York and bellow in the wild streets of Montreal. They kept quiet for so long, so long that fans must have wondered whether they departed for good.
Had the sport changed completely, from team-first to star-centered? Were media-blessed stars like Alex Ovechkin(notes) and Sidney Crosby(notes) really able to take over and win on their own? Were the ghosts of the beautifully flawed old barns in Winnipeg and Chicago now chased away by fake noise in McArenas? Was the old NHL – the one so many grew up with – gone?
The Montreal Canadiens have spoken, and spoken loudly, for the truly great aspects of their sport. They are the eighth seed, and the 16th-best team coming into the playoffs, cobbled together by good defense and great goaltending. They do nothing fancy, nothing breathtaking, nothing highlight-ready. Try making a Gatorade commercial out of this: They rush to the net on offense; they rush to the net on defense. That’s pretty much it. The Habs shove. They forecheck. They dump and chase. They clear the zone. Simple. Lovely. Pure. Hockey.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
Besides picking a coach again, the Devils have another major decision on their hands, which left wing to shower millions upon. They can’t afford both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk after next season, not without shortchanging other more-needed positions, and they need to choose now.
Underscoring the imminent nature of that choice, The Post has learned that Parise is dropping his current agent and is seeking a new adviser to guide him through this vital summer.
In the next six weeks, the Devils had better find out which they can best do: extend Parise’s walk-year contract (officially after July 1, but they’re free to do everything but file the deal before then), or sign Kovalchuk before he reaches unrestricted free agency on July 1.
It’s a crossroads decision as important to the future of the franchise as the selection of another coach, and it would be an upset if the choice is Kovalchuk over Parise.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
In three straight games, the Bruins have blown tires in their attempts to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Tonight, they are down to their last spare.
With one more loss to the Flyers, the Bruins not only will have their season come to a close, they will also enter the NHL record book as only the third team to gag up a 3-0 lead and lose a playoff series. It is company they have no desire to join.
“It’s going to be a big game, probably for most of us, the biggest game of our careers,’’ said Zdeno Chara. “We just have to enjoy it.
“Everybody’s different. Everybody’s treating it differently. Some guys get nervous. Some guys are very excited to be in that position. Everybody’s feeling different.’’
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Watch Mike Cammalleri the next time he scores a goal.
It won’t be a one-man celebration. He’ll skate straight to his teammates first or wait for them to join him so they can celebrate as a team. It’s what he learned from his parents growing up in Richmond Hill, playing hockey for the AAA Toronto Red Wings and going to The Country Day School in King City.
“That was our philosophy,” says Craig Clarke, Cammalleri’s coach for five years from minor atom on in the Red Wings organization. “We had a reputation of being an ultimate team. And Mike focused on what had to be done, not on what had just been done.”
Cammalleri talked about there being a “Toronto” way to play hockey when his Montreal Canadiens, with fellow GTA natives P.K. Subban (Rexdale), Glen Metropolit (Regent Park) and Dominic Moore (Thornhill) all contributing significantly to the Habs’ playoff victory over Pittsburgh.
Now comes this Game 7 date with infamy. Or, from a Philly standpoint, this Game 7 date with immortality.
Given the respective seasons of these teams, don’t be surprised if the final result is more about a team figuring out how to lose it, rather than win it.
-Damien Cox of the Toronto Star discussing game 7, Boston/Philadelphia. More from Damien.
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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