Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lucas Aykroyd at IIHF.com,
It’s looking more likely than ever that this year, for just the third time in history, a European goalie will backstop his NHL team to the Stanley Cup. The two previous examples were the Czech Republic’s Dominik Hasek (Detroit, 2002) and Russia’s Nikolai Khabibulin (Tampa Bay, 2004).
In 2010, three of the NHL teams that moved on to the conference finals have European starters. The lone exception is the Philadelphia Flyers, who eliminated the Boston Bruins and their Finnish starter Tuukka Rask on Friday in a stunning rally from a 3-0 series deficit.
Unquestionably, the best individual performance put on by any netminder in the 2010 playoffs has been that of Jaroslav Halak. Slovakia’s Olympic starter shocked the world by helping his eight-seeded Montreal Canadiens knock off the league-leading Washington Capitals in a seven-game first-round series. Halak (2.42 GAA, 93.3 save percentage) then compounded the shock by doing the same against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Round Two.
from Chris Iorfida of the Stanley Cup Blog at CBC,
Montreal is deserving of plaudits after containing arguably the three most skilled players in the league over the first two rounds: Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Flyers don’t have that one galvanizing offensive force, but they have something that the Penguins and maybe even the Capitals lack—consistent secondary scoring.
Philadelphia, even without Carter, still has six players in the lineup who scored at least 14 goals this season. The list doesn’t include talented late-season pickup Ville Leino, who stepped into the lineup in the Boston series and contributed two goals and four assists.
The list is headed by Mike Richards. The captain isn’t quite on the level of Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin, but he can score regularly while also giving maximum effort in his own end, something that can’t always be said of that trio.
from Paul Hoogkamp of TSN,
The Chicago Blackhawks may be in the midst of the longest Stanley Cup drought in the NHL, but it has also been more than a few years since the other three teams in the Conference Finals have enjoyed an up-close look at hockey’s Holy Grail.
The Blackhawks have not won since 1961, a stretch six years longer than that of the playoff-challenged Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Philadelphia Flyers changed the face of hockey and their opponents, using intimidation to win the Cup way back in 1975.
It’s been 17 years since the Montreal Canadiens had a parade down Rue Ste.-Catherine, which is an eternity for the most storied franchise in the league.
And while the San Jose Sharks have yet to win the Cup since joining the NHL in 1991, with recent playoff failures, some feel the organization is overdue to win their first title.
from Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
“Walking out of here and not knowing if you’re going to come back, it’s not a great feeling,” Gonchar said. “But we have plenty of time until July 1.”
Gonchar said he met with Penguins general manager Ray Shero yesterday and plans to speak with him again before the opening of free agency. His agent, JP Barry, agreed in March to resume negotiations after the season….
“I’d like to stay here, but the deal has to work for both sides,” Gonchar said. “We’re not going to look at my contract and say it’s the last one. We’re going to weigh in everything - the city, the fans, the length of it, the teammates, the coaches.”
In the same way fans are wondering how teams like Washington and Pittsburgh could be standing on the sidelines at the start of the conference finals, the Bruins’ inability to close the deal in four straight outings against a Flyers team that was minus its top scorer (Jeff Carter) and starting netminder (at least at the start of the series) is a colossal embarrassment.
-Scott Burnside of ESPN where you can read more on Bruins/Flyers.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Awful? Worse than awful. The Bruins tomorrow night should be playing in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but instead they are framed in shame after last night’s diabolical 4-3 loss to the Flyers.
“We had a 3-0 lead in the series. We had a 3-0 lead tonight. And we blew both,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “There are no excuses.’’
In a season-ender that will live with them forever and a day, like the ball that rolled between Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series, the Bruins essentially dismissed themselves from the 2010 postseason — and they underscored their own undoing by getting caught for having too many men on the ice with 11:10 gone in the third period.
Too many men. Haunting. Almost sadistic. A ghost from more than three decades ago, dating to an identical call at the Montreal Forum in 1979, revisited the Boston bench on Causeway Street, and had Vladimir Sobotka jumping on the ice as a sixth, and most unwanted, Boston skater.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Destiny on Ice continues its run Sunday night, when the Flyers open the Eastern Conference finals - at home, of all places - against the Montreal Canadiens.
This can’t be happening, but it is.
“This is like a storybook,” said Ed Snider, the man who brought hockey to Philadelphia. “How can you go down, 3-0, in their barn and come back and beat them, 4-3? How can you come back from 0-3 in games and beat them 4-3? These guys are unbelievable. They just won’t quit. They’re incredible.”
It happened because Simon Gagne chose team over caution, returning for Game 4 despite a surgically repaired toe. All Gagne did was score the overtime game-winner to avert a sweep in Game 4, net a pair of goals in Game 5, and then fire the series-winner past Boston’s Tuukka Rask in Game 7.
“I was so happy at the end,” Gagne said. “We just put everything on the line. There is no better feeling.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Mark Recchi could barely speak as he sat in full uniform at his dressing room stall, 20 minutes after one of the biggest playoff collapses in NHL history.
“This is a pretty awful feeling right now,” said the 42-year-old veteran, barely above a whisper as he digested the enormity of the disaster at hand.
Milan Lucic, on the other hand, had no problem voicing his thoughts.
“There was definitely some complacency,” he said angrily Friday night after the Boston Bruins finished blowing a 3-0 series lead, beaten in Game 7 and bounced from the Stanley Cup tournament by the exultant Philadelphia Flyers.
Will we see a repeat of the 1973 Stanley Cup Final when Montreal, coached by Scotty Bowman defeated Chicago 4 games to 2?
I am old school and it is time for an Original Six Final, the first since 1979 when the Canadiens defeated the Rangers.
So, that is my pick for the SCF, what about you?
National rightsholders NBC and VERSUS in the United States and CBC, TSN and RDS in Canada will provide exclusive national broadcast coverage of the Conference Finals. Every playoff game also can be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Date Time (ET) #1 San Jose vs. #2 Chicago Network
Sunday, May 16 3:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose NBC, TSN, RDS
Tuesday, May 18 10:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Friday, May 21 8:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago VERSUS, TSN, RDS
Sunday, May 23 3:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, May 25 * 9:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, May 27 * 8:00 p.m. San Jose at Chicago VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Saturday, May 29 * 8:00 p.m. Chicago at San Jose VERSUS, CBC, RDS
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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