Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We bring you back to a conversation with Red Wings GM Ken Holland on the eve of the June 2008 Stanley Cup finals. With the avid attention of about five or six hockey writers, Holland was espousing his belief that NHL teams should not overspend on goalies. It ran against the long-standing belief that goaltending winning championships, just like pitching wins pennants. His point was, his team had a decent goalie in Chris Osgood at the time, but certainly not an expensive high-end guy like Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo or Miikka Kiprusoff. And, of course, the Wings won the Cup again that June.
Look at the four remaining goalies left in the NHL playoffs. San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov is certainly the most polished of the four—a respected, elite netminder without too much to show for it when it comes to success in the NHL playoffs. The Hawks began the season debating long and hard between Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford as the backup to Cristobal Huet before finally putting Crawford, not Niemi, on waivers on the eve of the NHL season opener in Helsinki. Niemi got the nod over Crawford, barely.
more plus other playoff notes…
via Chuck Gormley of Flyer Files,
Judging from the line combinations at practice right now, Jeff Carter will sit out tomorrow night’s Game 4 and Ian Laperriere will play.
As I type, Carter is centering a line with wingers Andreas Nodl and Riley Cote, while Laperriere is playing right wing on a line with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe.
That means Carter, Nodl and Cote are likely to be scratches tomorrow night.
I’m also told Carter brought just two sticks with him to Montreal and did not plan on playing in either Game 3 or 4. He is targeting his return on Monday night in Game 5 in Philadelphia.
from Adrian Dater at Versus,
Scotty Bowman has his name on the Stanley Cup a record 11 times, and he very much wants a 12th because it would be right next to the name of his son, Stan. Anybody want to bet against him?
“It would be a special thing,” the 76-year-old Bowman said Thursday night from his residence in Amherst, N.Y., while watching the first period of the Canadiens-Flyers game. “But, one thing at a time. It’s going to be a tough game tomorrow night with San Jose.”
Bowman probably would be with his son in Chicago, but he is staying close by another of his five children at the moment in Amherst. His son, David, is under hospice care, and it’s a tough time for him and his wife of more than 40 years, Suella. David was born with hydrocephalus, a serious neurological disorder that left him partially blind and mentally disabled.
Stan, the general manager of the Blackhawks, is just as affected by his brother’s condition, and the team knows he could be called away at any time. But soldiering through difficult personal situations has been a hallmark of all the Bowman family.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Let’s see here. Hockey Night in Canada pays the NHL $110 million a year. Meanwhile, NBC pays, well, bupkis.
So you’d think, wouldn’t you, that would mean the NHL might just once in a while throw a bone to the CBC and the people who actually watch the games. But as is almost always the case with the NHL, you’d be wrong.
If there were ever any doubt the NHL has almost no regard for Canadians and the network that broadcasts games to them, let there be doubt no more. The league’s decision to cater to NBC by having Game 4 of the Montreal-Philadelphia Eastern Conference final at 3 p.m. Saturday is nothing short of an outrage.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
What matters now is how his team responds to what Richards colorfully and accurately described as “an old-fashioned ass-kicking.”
“I don’t think you want to forget it,” Pronger said. “I think you need to use it and feed off it - use it as a wake-up call or whatever you want to call it. We need to understand it’s going to take a lot more than we showed out there today to be successful.”
If you’re looking for encouraging signs, start with Leighton. Whenever a guy comes out of nowhere to play this well for this long, you’re always half expecting him to turn back into a pumpkin. That did not happen. Leighton was just fine. He had no chance to stop the first two Montreal goals, and little chance on two others.
The team in front of him just couldn’t be saved.
In counterpoint, when a player has been reliably excellent throughout his career, you don’t write him off because of one bad night. It is hard to believe Pronger and defensive partner Matt Carle won’t bounce back from their worst performance of the postseason.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
This week, he is unabashedly addressing Chicago’s confident swagger.
“They’ve earned that confidence by winning two in our rink,” Blake said. “Now we’ve got to respond. They’ve stuck to their game very well and we haven’t been doing that by any means.”
So which means are the right means?
“They look quicker right now,” Blake said of the Blackhawks. “But we can be quicker, too, getting out of our zone and moving the puck. Don’t take anything away from them. They want to win. They’re a good team. But our execution and poise with the puck can be better. We’re not playing as crisp as we were. They’ve been able to knock down pucks.”
As he notes, though, the Sharks are greatly assisting in that effort. The most discouraging statistic from the first two games of the series is that our beloved Los Tiburones have been credited with 40 puck giveaways to Chicago’s 15. Meanwhile, the Sharks have actually been credited with more puck take-aways, 22-16.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
This nicely sets the stage for what should be a terrific piece of post-season drama on Saturday afternoon, one that already has three networks — CBC, RDS and NBC — jostling over who gets the coveted between-the-benches broadcast perch.
Nobody’s talking about the Flyers pushing the Habs around any more, and the sandpaper elements in the Philly lineup — Scott Hartnell, Dan Carcillo, etc. — haven’t made an impact so far.
But if the Flyers were a bit cocky before Game 3, that’s gone now.
That means the fourth game of this Eastern final should be the most hotly contested yet.
more on last night’s game…
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Habs still trail 2-1 in the series with Game 4 set for Saturday afternoon, but this night was a dramatic lesson in just how quickly a playoff series can turn.
Just how quickly the dead can come alive.
Just how quickly the invincible can suddenly be revealed as disorganized and wanting.
Just how quickly despair can turn to hope.
“It was an old-fashioned ass-kicking,” Philadelphia captain Mike Richards said. “I don’t know if we thought we could throw our sticks on the ice and it was going to be easy. Give them credit. They played hard. They were all over the ice. They won every puck battle. Obviously, it shows by the score.”
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
You know an NHL goalie has reached a special place when, after a loss, he is described in media reports as “merely human, after all.”
When that happens, what it means is that in previous games he had done something extra-special for his team. He was the biggest reason his team won - just as Jaroslav Halak was against Washington and Pittsburgh and Michael Leighton was in holding the Canadiens goalless in the first two games of the Eastern Conference final.
Last night, in this 5-1 romp over the Flyers, let it be said that Leighton was “merely human, after all.”
However, what also should be said is what most of the Flyers were saying, or should have been saying after the game; namely, that Leighton was left “hung out to dry.” Put it this way: until roughly the last half of the third period, Leighton wasn’t provided any help by the Flyers.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
So there was Patrick Kane, the charismatic, young Chicago Blackhawks star, fielding questions from a gathering of reporters when an innocuous softball landed at his feet.
Kane was asked: Do his butterflies increase or decrease, knowing the Blackhawks are only two victories away from a Stanley Cup appearance, entering Friday’s third game of the Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks?
“To be honest with you, I haven’t really had butterflies as far as playing the game,” Kane answered so matter-of-factly and so without pretence that you knew it to be true.
In that sentence there is a great deal of insight into what makes tick a player small (5 foot 10, 178 pounds) even by the new NHL standards, but who plays the game without fear of failure.
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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