Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins are down one game-to-none to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final, just as they were last season. They had major difficulties scoring goals in the 3-1 loss at Joe Louis Arena last night, just as they did last season. They were beaten in the second half of the game, just as they were last season.
We are not—say it again, not—looking at a repeat of last season when the Red Wings looked like the old Soviet Red Army teams and dominated the first two games of the final at home on their way to taking the Cup in six games. It was so ridiculously lopsided early in the series—the Red Wings won those first two games, 4-0 and 3-0—that I remember writing they could win in three.
Not this time.
I’m still thinking the Penguins are the better hockey club.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun via the National Post,
If the Detroit Red Wings were feeling unlucky to have to open the Stanley Cup final three days after finishing off an opponent in five games . . . well, they should now consider that luck thing a dead issue.
Luck is two Detroit goals that come off the end boards and wind up going into the net off the back of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s right leg. Luck is a third goal that bounces straight up in the air off the goalie, where defensive centre Jordan Staal loses it in the lights, and leaves seldom-used fourth-liner Justin Abdelkader a free shot into the open net over Fleury.
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
• Well, you just knew Wings rookie fourth-line center Justin Abdelkader would be a difference-maker in this game, right? Um, no, I didn’t think so, either. After all, he had just two shifts in the first period. But there was Abdelkader, scoring a monster insurance goal at the 2:26 mark of the third period to give the Wings a 3-1 lead….
• The battle between superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Sidney Crosby is going to be a great one. The two ultra-competitors really dug in during a mid-first-period shift in the Wings’ end. This is an area where last season’s experience should really help No. 87. This go-round, Crosby knows all about Zetterberg’s dogged nature….
• Osgood made a monster glove stop on a clean breakaway chance from Malkin early in the second period. Malkin picked up a loose puck at the far blue line and made a beeline toward Osgood. The Russian sniper looked to pick the top corner with a quick snap….
From the Canadian Press via Winnipeg Free Press:
Penguins, B-minus: The Penguins dynamic duo each had their share of chances, but Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin couldn’t solve Chris Osgood. Even though Malkin picked up an assist on Ruslan Fedotenko’s goal, he was left kicking himself after failing to score on a clear breakaway when the game was tied 1-1. It was just the third time in 18 games this post-season that Crosby was held off the scoresheet.
Red Wings, A-minus: The depth was on display again as the Wings played without injured forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper. Johan Franzen scored his team-leading 11th of the playoffs, Justin Abdelkader got the first of his NHL career, Henrik Zetterberg performed well in a matchup with Crosby and Darren Helm was dominant in the faceoff circle
Q. It seems like you’re enjoying this, having some fun. When you bought the team out of bankruptcy, did you ever imagine it getting to this level consistently?
MARIO LEMIEUX: Well, I knew it was going to take a few years, certainly, to build a great club in Pittsburgh. We went through a very difficult four or five years, as you well know in Pittsburgh, finishing last or close to last. Getting the draft picks that we needed to rebuild.
Of course, the lottery didn’t hurt either, getting Sidney in Pittsburgh with Malkin and Fleury and Staal, and the rest of the gang that we have.
So I knew it was going to take a while to get back on top, but now that we are, I think we’re well positioned for the next few years, at least with the core players that we have signed in the last couple of years.
Q. What is your relationship like with Sidney and specifically in the playoffs? Do you talk to him? Do you talk hockey? What’s that like? And the second part, when you see what he’s accomplished this spring, does it put you in mind of when you were younger or Jagr was there?
Many more Pens fans are at the Joe than last year.
Be prepared for a lot of towel waving.
Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Empty Netters is at the arena right now—you can check out his photos here. He also linked the video below, from CBC’s opening broadcast of the playoffs back in April.
A great video, and I thought it might be a good kick-off for tonight as well.
Puck drop, 1 hour 35 minutes, and counting…
From Ken Belson at the NY Times:
Tussles like these typically take place out of view of the public because most teams are privately owned and disclose as little as possible about their finances. The secrecy gives them an advantage in negotiations with potential buyers, as well as creditors who want to get paid.
But because the [Phoenix Coyotes] and the company that runs the arena have filed for bankruptcy, this fight is taking place in court, where some of the Coyotes’ financial laundry — including a list of its creditors and the more than $100 million that they are owed — is being disclosed for everyone to see.
This may put the National Hockey League and its 29 other teams in an awkward position. Other teams and the companies that do business with them are surely happy to get a glimpse of at least part of the Coyotes’ finances. In an industry where operational data is closely guarded, any information that helps teams and their vendors benchmark themselves against their competitors is valued.
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
The loss of Datsyuk is particularly difficult for the Wings to take and it is taking an emotional toll on Datsyuk, as well.
Not only is Datsyuk—up for three end-of-season League awards, including MVP—a catalyst in the offensive zone, but he is the team’s best defensive forward. Babcock said Friday that when he plays, Datsyuk might hold onto the puck for 18 minutes a game because of his elite skill level.
But reality must supersede emotions at this point and Babcock understands he can only go with the healthy bodies he has at his disposal. So Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader will be plugged into the lineup to replace the two injured forwards.
“We’d like to have him, but we don’t have him,” Babcock said after Saturday’s morning skate. “The way we talk about it here, when you put on the uniform you’re expected to play well. He’s not going to have one on tonight, so he’ll be a little more nervous than the rest of us probably.”
Related story from Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com