Kukla's Korner Hockey
“I’ve made my decision and I’m coming back to play. I think everyone eventually knew I was going to come back, but I still wanted to take some time and think about things. Watching everyone else playing in the playoffs helped push me to make the decision. This is the best time of year and we want to get back to playing post-season hockey next season.”
-Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars. More at DallasStars.com.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Hours before his Vancouver Canucks enter the pressure cooker of an elimination game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, head coach Alain Vigneault continued to place the burden on his top players like goalie Roberto Luongo, forwards Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows to perform better against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
Vigneault remarked on Sunday before his team flew to Chicago for game six of the second-round series, in which the Blackhawks lead 3-2 after a 4-2 victory in Vancouver on Saturday evening, that Burrows is “not himself” and “he’s got nothing.”
Burrows stated today that Vigneault hasn’t conveyed those sentiments face-to-face, but Vigneault wasn’t backing down before the critical game.
“He’s one of them obviously,” said Vigneault, when queried as to whether Burrows needs to step up his play. “I haven’t put the list in order. There still is time for them to find another level.”
from Tarik El-Bashir of Captals Insider,
Mike Green broke the last of his discontinued Easton Stealths—the stick the slick-skating defenseman used to rack up 31 goals and 73 points—early in Game 1 of this series.
For the rest of that game, and the next two, Green said, “I felt like I was stickhandling for the first time again.”
“It takes a couple of games,” Green added, referring to the process of getting used to the feel of the heavier, stiffer Easton S17 stick that he’s using now. “But today I feel back to normal. It’s weird how that happens.”
“It’s a [crappy] time for that to happen,” he said with a laugh, although I could tell he didn’t really think it was funny.
via Chip Alexander of Canes Now at the News & Observer,
Hurricanes forward Scott Walker has been fined $2,500 for his altercation with Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward but will not be suspended, general manager Jim Rutherford said today.
“We are satisfied with the ruling,” Rutherford said.
In case you missed the punch Ward received from Walker, you can watch it here.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Washington Capitals will be looking for more balanced scoring in tonight’s Game 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins given that three players, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Dave Steckel have combined for 12 of the Caps’ 15 goals in this series. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau would specifically like to see more from Alexander Semin, whose contributions have declined as the series has progressed.
“I have no idea what’s behind it. We’ve tried a lot of different things, and hopefully whatever we try today will make him play his best,” Boudreau said. “If you could bottle up why players don’t play good that are supposed to be playing better and why players play above what they’re supposed to be playing, come and tell me and I’ll market that thing.”
continued with more on tonight’s game…
from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,
Right now, in two hotels in two different cities, about 50 NHLers are doing a lot of soul-searching. As members of the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals, their seasons are very close to ending – and they’re not ready to stop playing hockey just yet.
In both cases, a series has slipped away. The reasons therein are different, however.
For the Canucks, who will go into the raucous United Center to take on the Chicago Blackhawks Monday, reverting to bad old habits has backed Vancouver into a 3-2 corner….
A little bit east in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals are also wondering what went wrong. If anything, their road should have gotten easier in Game 4, when Pittsburgh defenseman Sergei Gonchar was knocked out of commission (knee) by Alex Ovechkin. But the Gonchar incident has been more curse that luck, as the Caps have been snake-bitten ever since….
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
“He could play linebacker for the Bears,” teammate Colin Fraser said, and he was quite serious.
At somewhere upwards of 6-foot-3, 250 or 260 pounds, “Big Buff” always has had a big body, plus some big dreams. But a goal-scoring touch was lacking. Until May 9, that is, when he scored twice to lead the Blackhawks to a 4-2 victory in Vancouver in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
“The thing about ‘Buff’ is that he’s not just a big guy,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “He has a heavy shot, skates well and is blessed with good hands. He’s got the potential to be a dominating power forward. One of those X-factor-type players everyone dreams of having.”
from Howard Berger of Fan590,
I should have known better.
The Detroit Red Wings had me fooled with their lax defensive play in the final half of the National Hockey League regular season. Blowout losses to Columbus and Nashville, in which the Wings yielded eight goals, were ominous signs that the defending champions had lost the appetite and conviction to ramp it up for another playoff marathon.
Damn, I should have known better.
Consecutive man-handlings of the Anaheim Ducks this week showed me the folly of doubting the best franchise in professional sport during the past decade. Yes, fans of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Lakers will argue that contention, but it’s a no-brainer. The Red Wings have been so good for so long that it’s almost impossible to remember when they were ordinary.
from Corey Masisak of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Caps will need to find a way to move past a potentially psyche-damaging defeat Saturday at Verizon Center. If yielding a third-period lead only to salvage overtime but still lose wasn’t enough, the fluky circumstances in which Evgeni Malkin was credited with the winning goal made it a night to forget for the franchise.
Still, there is reason for optimism if the Caps can overcome the mental strain of the defeat.
“It was the best game of our series for sure, but it is not as good as we can play,” Boudreau said. “It’s not like we’ve reached the pinnacle, and they didn’t have (top defenseman Sergei) Gonchar and dressed seven defensemen and they still beat us. We can go better, and I know the character on this group. It is always, no matter who you play, the hardest game to win is the last game.”
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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