Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
Dave Tippett, Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow and Marty Turco talk today…
Q. Defensively what has been the biggest thing for you guys the last couple games?
COACH DAVE TIPPETT: Well, I don’t know. We talk about we have to defend as a group. Marty is certainly a big part of that. I think the Toby Petersen line came in and gave us strong minutes in a checking role.
Like I said, from the start, we look at one of our strengths of our team is how well we check as a group and we expect everybody to do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s top offensive players or other players, that’s their main role is to check.
Marty has been very good. But our group as a whole has worked harder at the checking part of the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Blue Jackets will be one of the busiest teams during the off-season. I’d long speculated they could go the offer sheet route if they fail to land the help they need via the UFA market, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they go hard for Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter or Anaheim’s Corey Perry or Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester if those three are still unsigned by July 1st by their respective teams.
much more UFA and trade talk at Spector’s Trade Rumors…
If there were any question about Zdeno Chara’s toughness, this should settle it: The towering defenseman considered not having anesthesia when undergoing recent shoulder surgery to repair a torn left labrum. “True story,” said his agent, Matt Keator. “That’s Z, right there. He cares about his body, like no one I know, and he doesn’t want to do anything that could compromise it. He asked if he could go without it, and he would have done it, but the doctors convinced him it was better to have it.
more NHL bits from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe…
via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
“Those players have made a commitment on both sides of the puck that leads to success,” Lamoriello said. “If you watch what they’ve done and have followed them during the year, you shouldn’t be surprised. It’s only been a surprise if you try to bring the past into the present, and the present is what you look at.”
more on the Penguins…
from the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers said the keys to winning are doing what they did in Game 4: strong forechecking and getting quality shots on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“The first couple of games, I think we let him off the hook,” Richards said of Fleury. “Not going to the net and trying to pass around him too much. . . . But when you get pucks to the net and he’s having trouble seeing them, there are going to be rebounds.”
The Flyers also need to move the puck easily out of their zone, keep possession enough to score, and reduce the Penguins’ chances.
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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