Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Mike Heika at The Dallas Morning News,
Like, how did a 29-year-old center with eight games on the Stars’ regular-season roster become one of the unlikely heroes of the postseason? How is it that [Toby] Petersen, who spent 63 games with the Iowa Stars this season and has one point in 17 career playoff games, became the key to derailing Detroit superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk? How does a man who is making less than $300,000 this season stifle two players who combine to draw more than $9 million in salary?
“It’s a pretty good story,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
Then again, the Stanley Cup playoffs are filled with these stories.
note: original post timestamp was 9:16am on 5/18/08
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
This leaves an interesting battle ahead for the Penguins, who have lost just two games so far in the playoffs. Assuming the Detroit Red Wings will finally put the Dallas Stars away in the Western Conference final, the Penguins will face a complete team with more experience.
However, the Red Wings are weaker in one crucial spot: goal. Chris Osgood is not Fleury’s equal, which could be fatal given the quality of the Penguins’ shooters.
Fleury came into the season with a lot of questions surrounding him. But after he returned from an ankle injury late in the season, he began living up to the promise the Penguins saw when they took him first overall in the 2003 draft.
from Jennifer Floyd Engel of the Star-Telegram,
NBC, Versus, the suits in the NHL and, judging by their cocky attitudes, most Wings players feel the Stars have just been an annoying little speed bump on the road to their dream of Wings-Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stars were supposed to facilitate that by doing what Philly did—going to Detroit and then going away.
Instead we have another hockey game at the AAC and a definite shift in momentum. The Stars have the hot goalie, one of the toughest captains, a cast of emerging youngsters and growing confidence.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
But just 17 months after Canadian technology mogul Jim Balsillie walked away from his offer to buy the team—and presumably begin the process of moving the team to Canada—these same Penguins are headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr were leading the Pens to the second of back-to-back Cups in 1992.
From chaos to the Cup finals in the blink of an eye.
“It seems like a long time ago. It really wasn’t, but it just seems we’ve come a long way, on and off the ice,” GM Ray Shero said after the Penguins ended this Eastern Conference finals series with an emphatic 6-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 on Sunday. “It’s a great thing for the city of Pittsburgh and this franchise.”
from Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News,
This summer, Holmgren’s focus is going to be much narrower. The base of the team he built, the one that showed it was talented enough to get to the Eastern Conference final - a year after finishing dead last in the NHL - is intact.
Keeping it that way will be the first task. The Flyers have restricted free agents that include R.J. Umberger, Jeff Carter and Randy Jones. Losing any of those players would be a blow. Holmgren has to find the salary-cap space to sign them.
And then, he must add to the defensive corps. Jason Smith is an unrestricted free agent; he will not fit into the Flyers’ plans and neither will Jaroslav Modry.
Derian Hatcher’s health will be an issue. He missed a lot of hockey with persistent knee problems.
from Mike Brophy of the Hockey News,
American TV executives must be tickled pink. It doesn’t matter who the Western Conference champion is, they got The Kid.
Sid the Kid.
Say what you want about the best two teams making the final each year; it means squat to American television and no matter what your sensibilities are concerning this issue, the NHL is still very much trying to sell itself as a major attraction in the USA.
Having Sidney Crosby in the final does that.
Mike Babcock, Nick Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper talke today…
Q. Your guys said they admitted they were playing tight yesterday. When a team comes out tight like that, how do you approach that? Is that a coach thing? Is that a captain thing? A player thing? Who takes charge there?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Well, I think everybody does. But, I mean, that’s exactly what we talked about. I mean, you can be tight and tentative or you can be loose and try. Straightforward. When you’re tight, I mean, you’re slower.
So, yeah, you being slower, them working hard, that’s just a little bit of difference that makes, and your execution is not as good.
It’s interesting, when I walked out of the rink with my wife and my son, my son was like he got shot, you know, he said, You’re flat. Well, we’re so far from flat it’s not even funny. But for your normal fan who comes to the game, that looks like the start of a game in November where you’re half asleep. Well, that’s not the case.
But you want to win so bad, sometimes you get in the way of yourself. One of the greatest skills as a professional athlete or anybody is controlling activation level. Sometimes you just got to take a deep breath.
Q. Someone comes up to you two months from now and says “how do you remember this season?” what will you say to them?
COACH STEVENS: I just told the guys that I have been in the game a long time. Working with this group has been one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve had in pro hockey. It really has been. We’ve made tremendous strides this year, and we’ve come an awful long way.
And if you look back, we played the one, two, three season in the East in the playoffs and I thought we did a remarkable job. You give Pittsburgh credit. To me they were the number one seed in the East in terms of what I’ve seen.
And they’re very deserving of moving on.
Penguins defeat the Flyers 6-0 to advance to the SCF.
This game was over midway through the second period. Flyers gave it their all, but the talented Penguins were just too much for them.
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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