Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Just like last year, the Pens are now looking at having to win four straight or at least four out of five to take the Cup. Only one team, the ‘71 Canadiens, has ever won the title after losing the first two games of the final.
But that’s just the surface story. The reality is this year’s final is very, very different from last year, both in terms of the intensity of the competition and the nature of the two games played so far.
The Wings, battered by injuries, have been outshot in both games and either outplayed or at best fought to a draw.
Yet they lead two games to none.
The reason, aside from the fact Justin Abdelkader is outscoring both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined, is Chris Osgood.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
If the Red Wings clearly need no help, why are they getting it?
Why, when the puck comes off the end boards behind Fleury, does it wind up in the net twice in 20 minutes in Game 1. Why, when Hossa is battling Pascal Dupuis for the puck along the boards, when Hossa hooks him so effectively that Dupuis’ stick is snapped in half, does play continue with no whistle until Detroit scores a go-ahead goal at 10:29 of the second period. Why does Justin Abdelkader, without an NHL goal to his name, suddenly become The Magical Michigander, swatting rolling pucks past Fleury night after night in this series?
Moreover, why do the Red Wings get to play with two goalies—Chris Osgood and Henrik Zetterberg?
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
Here are some quick notes from the Wings’ 3-1 Game 2 victory over the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday night:
• Old reliable, Wings rookie Justin Abdelkader, struck again in Game 2. The former Michigan State standout, an unlikely hero in Game 1, scored another huge goal early in the third period to give his team a two-goal lead. In this case, the kid got a lot of help from Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who watched a very stoppable shot from the top of the left-wing circle sail over his glove and into the net….
• At the other end, Detroit stopper Chris Osgood continued to make timely saves for his team. On this night, he also got a lot of help from the goalposts. The Pens rang three shots off different parts of the goal frame. Still, there were several other occasions when Osgood made nice stops….
From John Kreiser at NHL.com:
A few of the pertinent numbers from Detroit’s 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday night.
0—Players on the Red Wings who had a minus rating in Game 2. Fifteen Wings were plus-1, and Pittsburgh’s only goal was scored on the power play. The Penguins had no plus players.
1—Wins by Detroit when trailing after one period. The Wings had lost both games this spring in which they trailed after the opening 20 minutes, but won on Sunday night despite trailing 1-0 after the first period.
2—Goals in the Final by Detroit rookie Justin Abdelkader, who scored the third goal in Games 1 and 2. Abdelkader has yet to score a regular-season goal.
via NBC Sports:
A frustrated Sidney Crosby took a whack at Kirk Maltby’s skate as Game 1 ended, tired of what he called the nonstop chirping by the Red Wings forward. So far, it might be Crosby’s best shot of the Stanley Cup finals.
Blanketed by Henrik Zetterberg whenever he steps on the ice, Crosby has gone from being the best player in the playoffs to being a concern to the Pittsburgh Penguins because of his lack of offense.
He’s not playing badly, but he’s not playing like Sidney Crosby.
From Doug Harrison at CBC:
At the start of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, NHL fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh probably could have predicted with confidence that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin would be at, or near, the top of the scoring race and Nicklas Lidstrom would lead all defencemen in points.
Further from the thoughts of the most ardent fans were the names of Detroit rookie forwards Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino, along with Pittsburgh defenceman Mark Eaton and forward Craig Adams.
But each contributed on the scoresheet, on special teams, in the faceoff circle or simply with their presence to help the Red Wings and Penguins advance to the NHL championship final for the second consecutive season.
From Tarik El-Bashir at Capitals Insider:
The NHL has interviewed Washington Capitals front office employees as well as members of the team’s medical and training staffs in recent days as it investigates allegations made by a Florida man arrested last week on steroid charges.
“We’re following very closely the developments in Florida as the case progresses,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told me this afternoon. “We think it’s important from the league’s perspective to investigate this because any allegations of this type are concerning.”
The league’s investigation is being conducted by its security and legal departments.
Interviews with Capitals personnel are ongoing, Daly said, but so far investigators have not been able to establish any connection between the team and suspected drug dealer Richard Thomas, who was arrested Tuesday in Lakeland, Fla., and charged with possession and intent to distribute steroids.
From Mike G. Morreale at NHL.com:
Game 1 mystery solved. When Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood said Saturday night that something about the boards at Joe Louis Arena changed two years to make them more lively, the assembled media wondered just what happened. Dan Craig, the Facilities Operations Manager for the NHL, said Sunday that he and his crew installed a new plastic kick plate along the boards at the Joe Louis Arena two years ago. But he added he didn’t see anything different or unusual than he would at any other rink in the League.
“If you go back and watch some of the games earlier this year (at Bell Centre) in Montreal, where we also did a brand new set of boards with a new kick plate, those boards were lively as well,” Craig told NHL.com. “What we did at Joe Louis Arena is similar to what we do in any other building—the front facing gets a little worn down so we took a look at what was behind it (plywood) and replaced the half-inch of plastic that we would have done at any other rink.”
Craig noted the kick plate at The Joe is tightened down well, providing a very solid and “lively” bottom—perhaps the reason the end boards provided so much spring in Game 1.
TEAMS WINNING GAME 2 IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL
Teams winning Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in 53 of 69 years since the best-of-seven format began in 1939 (77%).
All-Time Stanley Cup Final Record Of Home Clubs Sweeping Games 1 and 2: 31-1
(In 1971, Chicago won the first two games at home but lost to Montreal in seven games.)
All-Time Stanley Cup Final Record Of Home Clubs Splitting Games 1 and 2: 16-7
from Dave Lozo and Bob Condor of NHL.com,
Babcock said fans can anticipate “a game within a game” from Zetterberg and Crosby.
“If you’re a hockey purist and you like superstars who bring it, that’s a nice matchup,” said Babcock.
In fact, you can follow that matchup as part of your game viewing (hey, it’s a two-screen world) by watching NBC’s Iso-Cam right here on NHL.com. The camera will follow Zetterberg every shift on the ice, many of which will pair the player Babcock calls “Z” and Crosby on faceoffs and no doubt a hit or three.
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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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