Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Craig Simpson of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs everything is magnified. The battles, the intensity, the pressure, the energy, the excitement, they all rise to a higher level. The swings in momentum that can occur within a shift, a period and a game are often the moments that dictate the outcome of a series.
A hot goalie, or a streaky scorer can dominate a series, but there may not be a more important part of the playoffs than special teams.
All year teams work diligently to improve their special teams, understanding the importance of scoring a power play goal at a critical time, or killing off a string of penalties to preserve a lead. No series has exemplified that importance more than the Vancouver, St. Louis series.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog at the Washington Post,
Last night was the first time I had been in Madison Square Garden for a professional sporting event. Some quick, cheap observations, became no playoff series has really started until you start picking on the opposing fan base….
They were profane. Look, there’s plenty of bad behavior in Verizon. Just yesterday someone forwarded me pictures of a Caps fan urinating outside the building on Saturday, in broad daylight. But I’ve been to dozens and dozens of games there, and the profanity last night was on a different level. TVMA would be putting it kindly.
There were dads cursing their brains out in front of little kids. Massive, rink wide “Bleep-hole” chants. Massive “These Refs Suck!” and “Bett-man Sucks!” chants. Repeated “Po-ti Sucks!” chants. Invitations for Poti to perform sexual acts. All variety of curse words directed at the officials. Homophobic slurs directed at people in Caps gear. I passed Bettman in the concourse; just as I noticed, so did a nearby Rangers fan. “I [bleeping] hate that guy!” the fan said to his buddy.
from Cecile Nguyen at SanJoseSharks.com,
“We put ourselves in a bit of a hole here but we have a good team,” defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “We’ve been the best team all year. We have to prove it now and I think the guys know that we need to step up. We’re not nervous or overly worried. We’re not going to go out there and try to do too much. We’re just going to do what we have done all year.”
A day after their Game 2 Stanley Cup Quarterfinal loss to the Ducks, the Sharks’ locker room following practice Monday afternoon remains positive.
“We’re confident. All the guys in here are confident,” center Joe Pavelski. “We’ve had some good practices and guys are hungry. There’s a sense of urgency in Game 1. There’s more of a sense of urgency in Game 2. And now obviously Game 3 we got to have it.”
from Sam Kasan of PittsburghPenguins.com,
The Philadelphia Flyers have the reputation of being a tough team. But the Pittsburgh Penguins are also a tough team. It just depends on how you define the word “tough.”
“Toughness is if you can go out and play your game the way you want to play it and not be deterred from it; then you’re being tough,” Penguins interim head coach Dan Bylsma said.
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
One of the most obvious storylines of this first-round playoff series between the Flyers and Penguins has been the hitting.
In the first two games, the Penguins were credited with 80 hits, compared to 66 for the Flyers. In Game 3, however, the Flyers outhit the Penguins 29-18, and Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who had 14 hits in Game 2, had none in Game 3.
While real-time statistics like hits seem to vary building by building, the Penguins admit the Flyers dictated the physical play in Game 3.
Mike Gillis talks about his team’s 3-0 series lead in St Louis, their forward depth and Taylor Pyatt’s status.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
Somewhere, Guy Carbonneau must be having himself a chuckle.
Of all the playoff predictions made last week, not even a guy who thinks he was wrongly canned as coach of the Canadiens coach could have hoped for this.
What’s worse than a clean sweep?
Last night, the Habs were essentially eliminated by the Bruins in three.
“We think we can win a game,” Montreal winger Tom Kostopoulos said after a 4-2 dream-ending loss to the B’s. “We need to win one game. (Tomorrow) night. We think we can win one game, so that’s what we’ve got to concentrate on.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
“We stunk; it’s simple,” the head coach said after Simeon Varlamov blanked the Blueshirts 4-0 to bring the Caps within 2-1, with Game 4 set for tomorrow night at the Garden. “It was a good old-fashioned spanking where we need to take our medicine.”
It was medicine that tasted like acid going down the Rangers’ collective throats. While it’s true the Blueshirts did muster somewhat more of a down-low attack than they had in winning the opening two games of the series, their time of possession yielded nil.
Meanwhile, they broke down numerous times in their own end against the Caps’ skill players, notably Semin, who scored twice; Nicklas Backstrom, who might have been the most impressive player on the ice; Sergei Fedorov, who had a throwback game; and, of course, the unconquerable Alex Ovechkin, the hardest working man on the ice.
from Ed Moran of the Philadelphia Daily News,
But the play seemed to justify the Flyers’ belief that at times there is a different level of justice for them compared to their opponents. Daniel Carcillo’s hit to the back of Max Talbot’s head in Game 1 deserved the one-game suspension, but the Kunitz hit looked like a direct attempt to injure another player - and Kunitz was left undisciplined.
The league has talked about eliminating headshots from the game, and Kunitz went very high on Timonen.
Flyers coach John Stevens said he had no doubt of the intent….
“The angle I saw, there were three guys all together and it was a hard, hard hit, and my only concern is if there was a hit to the head there.
“It didn’t look like he left his feet and I didn’t hear from anybody else that there was an elbow or anything, but it was a hard, hard hit.”
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
For the young Jackets, seeing how the Red Wings elevate their competitive level has been a staggering experience. They didn’t know it would be like this.
“I don’t think it’s just been our young guys,” Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I think it’s been an eye-opener for anybody that’s played them. I think it’s been an eye-opener for people watching on television, I think it’s been an eye-opener for our team.
“I’ve said this before: These are unbelievable lessons. This is exactly what you need to grow. You need to have these games so you just don’t talk about the level, you’ve got reference points all the time.
“We’re a team that’s got the reference points. Our players are going to get better daily.”
from Gary Loewen of the Toronto Sun,
You know that the playoffs have begun when a different set of words and phrases is introduced into the hockey lexicon.
a) The “face wash” becomes an acceptable offensive tactic.
b) The “playoff beards” sprout, in part to take the sting out of the face wash.
c) The dreaded “pond scrum” in front of the crease delays a multitude of faceoffs.
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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