Kukla's Korner Hockey
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
There are certainly generous upsides to Sutter being dropped back behind the bench against his will. For starters, no additional financial outlay (with Keenan due a reported $1 million NOT to wear his skates out to post-practice media conferences for a year). Then there’s the fact that the handsomely-recompensed hired help would be accountable to their big boss on a daily basis. Sutter won’t accumulate many Mr. Congeniality Awards, isn’t exactly a Spritzer-down-the-baggy-pants kinda guy, but he ain’t the sort to condone slackers or allow strays to go off on their own; wander away from the herd.
He is, in anything, demanding, meticulous and not a man to cross. More than a sampling of those still around from the day rank him in the top cut of coaches they ever played for.
A couple of those trademark bitter beer-faces, simultaneously brimming with disbelief, menace and condescension, might be the most beneficial thing to ever happen to, say, the backpedalling Dion Phaneuf.
from Jeff Gordon of The Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
He coached another promising Flames team to another playoff failure. Regular readers of the Hockey Guy blog were not surprised by this unhappy turn of events.
Keenan was destined to fail. Predictably, he wore down goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
He gave lumbering Todd Bertuzzi a wide berth. He orchestrated the exit of needed skilled players. He didn’t get enough out of Dion Phaneuf and Jarome Iginla, franchise cornerstones, leaders who were supposed to be his type of players.
Keenan has never been a great tactician. He has never been the hardest working coach in the league, either.
His forte was motivation – and his famous intimidation tactics became ineffective once players began earning millions to play their sport.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
With the stars—make that superstars—beginning to align themselves properly in the hockey universe, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings appear on a collision course to meet for a second consecutive time in the battle for the sport’s Holy Grail.
And if you believe in learning from the past, then history could very well be on the side of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company.
With both the Pens and Wings just one victory away from winning their respective conference finals, we could see a repeat of Stanley Cup finalists for the first time since the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers played for all the marbles in both 1983 and 1984.
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,
“I’ll be Cristo.”
That was Brent Seabrook speaking, as he jokingly stepped into Cristobal Huet’s locker and faced a phalanx of reporters, nearly an hour after his Blackhawks had been whacked 6-1 by Detroit.
The real Cristo, as it turns out, never did show his face, taking refuge in the no-trespassing inner sanctum of the Hawks’ dressing room. At 5:30 p.m., the cut-off point for media access, scriveners and TV types ushered outside, Huet was still back there, hiding.
Pretty bush. Which might also accurately describe the No.2-turned-No.1 Chicago goalie, who gave up five Red Wing goals, bracketed around a second period spent largely on the bench – yanked by coach Joel Quenneville and then re-instated, presumably for a bit of confidence bucking-up.
He’ll need all the bucking he can get, the Hawks teetering on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference final, trailing 3-1 as the series swings back to Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
It’s hard to count this team out after watching what it accomplished against seemingly insurmountable obstacles earlier in the playoffs, but unless the Hurricanes have untapped reserves of emotion that are far from apparent at this point, their future is grim.
If the Hurricanes had that kind of fight left, they would have used it at some point in the first three games, when the opportunity was there to take control. Instead, the Hurricanes capitulated, and now it’s too late.
They got this far on emotion. On heart. On drive. To beat the Penguins, the Hurricanes would have needed as much, if not more, of it. Instead, they’re spent—and their season most likely is as well.
from Craig Custance of the Sporting News,
Q: Things are going well in the Eastern Conference finals. Is this where you expected the Penguins to be when the playoffs started?
A: We knew we had a good team, had a good chance. It depends on if we play our game, if we play to the best of our potential. And so far, we’ve been doing that.
Q: How has skating on a playoff line with Evgeni Malkin been?
A: It’s been great. He’s a good player. Some games we’re on it, some games not as well. It’s like any other team, any other player. It’s trying to make more consistent games and be a big factor to help the team.
from Damien Cox of The Spin at the Toronto Star,
The Hawks ruined their own chances by trying to get chippy, the same approach that worked so beautifully against Vancouver in the Western Conference semi-final because the Canucks were so very willing to engage in a tit-for-tat battle.
But not the Wings. They just won’t. So when the Hawks tried to get in Detroit’s face - “scare ‘em off the puck” as Jonathan Toews put it - the Wings just ignored the nonsense as they always do and let the Hawks beat a steady path to the penalty box. The Wings then killed Chicago on the power play, and Mike Babcock kept putting his best guys out at extra strength late in the game as if to tell the Hawks if they wanted to play cheapshot hockey they were going to suffer for it.
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
According to multiple sources, if the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings can wrap up their respective Conference final series by Wednesday night, the Stanley Cup finals likely would start on Saturday, May 30 in Detroit. In this scenario, Game 2 would be played on Sunday, May 31.
This is a change from a May 22 press release from the league that indicated that the championship series would begin on Friday, June 5, if both Conference final series didn’t end in four-game sweeps.
from Craig Button at NHL.com,
Come playoff time, we hear the word “experience” being used constantly. “They have a lot of experience on that team.” “That is a very good team, but they lack experience.” “The experience of losing will help them in the future.”
So, is playoff experience, and specifically Stanley Cup-winning experience, mythical or is it a tangible aspect of success?
We often hear that experience is a teacher, and in the playoffs, there are many lessons to learn. At times, teams and players are trying to learn them versus very accomplished players. If you ask players if they want to win, the answer is an absolute yes. If you ask if they are prepared to pay the price, the response will be yes once again.
The tricky part is when you ask if they know what the price is. That is where one can draw on experience.
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
What does a team owe its media and fans when it makes a coaching change? There are rules for opening dressing rooms after games, but after firings? The Calgary Flames employed that old political gambit of releasing bad news late on a Friday afternoon to announce that Mike Keenan was out as coach after two seasons. The Flames put out a terse press release and said GM Darryl Sutter would have no further comments till tomorrow, four days later. And that comment would not include the identity of Keenan’s replacement.
While Calgary may not equal Toronto in its media urgency, waiting four days to explain a major personnel change still smacks of arrogance for a franchise that promised it would be more fan friendly when it almost expired earlier this decade.
more plus other NHL topics, including how HNIC viewed the Kronwall hit…
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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