Kukla's Korner Hockey
from CBC Sports,
It’s hard to imagine a future Hall of Fame goaltender who holds the record for all-time wins and sports a minuscule 1.96 goals-against average in 169 post-season games would enter any Stanley Cup playoffs as an underdog.
But that is the scenario for Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, at least in the eyes of former National Hockey League netminder Kelly Hrudey.
“I think Marty Brodeur can be a weak link,” the Hockey Night in Canada analyst told viewers on the eve of Wednesday’s Round 1 series opener between the Devils and visiting Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. ET.
“What teams identified about three years ago in the playoffs is if you throw pucks at his feet that he has a lot of problems.
“We saw it in particular, even though New Jersey beat Tampa a couple of years ago, he gave up a ton of goals from everywhere. Tampa certainly weren’t shy [to shoot] from the corners. For whatever reason he’d have a hard time getting to his posts, so much so I thought he was injured.”
I was just on The War Room on NHL Home Ice XM 204 and we talked about the playoffs.
I always enjoy talking hockey with Dan Blakeley and Mick Kern and appreciate the duo for coming to me and allowing my thoughts to be heard.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
With apologies, as always, to David Letterman, this devoted puckhead presents “My Top 10 Reasons the Ducks Will Stun the San Jose Sharks in the Opening Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs”:
10. The Ducks have the road-ice advantage.
No, I’m not joking. Granted, the Sharks had a phenomenal home record at H.P. Pavilion (32-5-4), but did you know the Ducks won more road games than the Sharks during the regular season? You can look it up. The Ducks won 22 away from home; the Sharks, only 21.
The Ducks also won convincingly in their last meeting in San Jose, a 5-2 romp a week ago Saturday.
“That was big,” Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks’ leading scorer, said earlier this week after practice. “We gained a bit of confidence going in there and winning. It’s going to help in the playoffs.”
9. Sharks center Joe Thornton, a former NHL MVP, gets all the publicity, but did you know Getzlaf (25 goals, 66 assists for 91 points) outscored Thornton (25-61, 86 points) during the regular season? Didn’t think so.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Stanley Cup champions Andy McDonald and Dan Hinote, along with Keith Tkachuk and Jay McKee, were granted the floor and given the responsibility of prepping a young team for its first NHL playoff experience.
“The intensity is going to go up a lot,” said McDonald, who won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. “We don’t want them to think that we’ve been playing playoff games (the past couple of months). We’ve been playing games that we can’t lose, but I think the competition is going to get a lot harder and certainly we want to be prepared for that.”
When the Blues meet Vancouver in Game 1 tonight of their first-round playoff series, only eight players in the Blues’ lineup will bring postseason experience to the ice, compared to 16 for the Canucks. Aware of that discrepancy, veterans hoped that by re-telling their personal experiences, the Baby Blues could get past their nerves.
The vast majority of bloggers at KK will be blogging away during the Conference Quarter Finals.
Bethany’s Hockey Rants will be providing Columbus coverage, The Goal Line Report covers the New York Rangers, Mike Chen normally blogs the NHL in general, but deep down is a San Jose Sharks fan, Red & Black Hockey follows the Carolina Hurricanes and The Confluence provides all the Pittsbugh Penguins news that you want.
As you can see, everyone here at KK will be busy and many hope to be very busy for the next two months or so.
from Mike Wise of the Washington Post,
Of all the concerns surrounding the Capitals’ feasibility as a real contender—maturity, toughness, the psychological wound from being one-and-done against the Philadelphia Flyers a year ago—No. 1 is Theodore’s inconsistency. It’s why the Rangers have just one on-paper advantage heading into this series—Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
Again, Theodore doesn’t have to be what Arturs Irbe was to San Jose 15 years ago; that otherworldly goalie, making out-of-body experiences a reality on ice.
But more than even a hard-checking opponent or a stingy goalie across the ice, Theodore can stop Ovie and a hungry Capitals team from going as far as they want to this postseason. If they have real designs on Lord Stanley, it’s up to the guy in goal. This postseason is on him.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
It’s the No. 2 seed versus the No. 7 this time, too, and from 1997 to 2006, a seventh seed has knocked off a second seed in Round 1.
It’s a mismatch on paper. The Wings have 1,793 playoff games experience in their lineup; Columbus 401. The Wings have the NHL’s best power play (25.5 per cent), the Jackets the worst (12.7 per cent). No clubs making the playoffs for the first time have ever won a Cup, but St. Louis (1968) and Florida (1996) did make the finals. “We’re in it to win, just like the other 15 teams ... we didn’t come this far just to throw our gear on and that’s it,” said Jackets captain Rick Nash, who got two hat tricks this season, both against the Wings.
“We achieved our goal, to get into the playoffs for the first time. That was great. But now that we’re in them, we want to go far. We’re not just happy to make them.”
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
You know the NHL playoffs are afoot when the Penguins deploy a hospitality detail into the decaying intestines of Mellon Arena, shove aside various assortments of outdated office and suite furniture, and unfold a card table to present a fruit tray and some pastries for a suddenly swollen herd of habitually swollen media.
Nothin’ says postseason, it says here, like the smell of honeydew and pineapple Danish.
As for the more intangible aromatics, no odor overrides the first-round games that begin tonight like that of galloping uncertainty. No hockey player, hockey coach, nor alleged hockey journalist could look at the first-round matchups this year and so much as pretend to know what’s about to unfold.
from John Kreiser of NHL.com,
Like every sport, hockey has games that serve as lines of demarcation—dynasties begin, end or intersect, wins and losses send franchises in different directions.
Here are five games from the past 35 years that had implications far beyond simply which team won and which lost.
2003: Game 1, Western Conference Quarterfinals
Anaheim 3, Detroit 2 (3 OT)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere couldn’t have picked a tougher situation for his first Stanley Cup playoff game. All he had to do was beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, on their home rink—and in top form.
That’s exactly what he did.
The Wings had won the Cup in 1997 and 1998, then captured it again in 2002. Another championship would have made them the most successful team since the Edmonton Oilers of the late 1980s. The Ducks had made only two playoff appearances—both of which ended in losses to the Wings.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
Turning the other cheek in a playoff series usually occurs when your head swivels from a punch in the chops.
But that may well be one of huge keys for the Canadiens if they’re to upset the Bruins in their NHL quarterfinal series, beginning tomorrow night in Boston.
The ice at TD Banknorth Garden will still be wet when Mike Komisarek learns this, his photo probably pinned on a dartboard in the Bruins dressing room.
The Canadiens defenceman got a generous taste of Boston leather last Thursday, his face massaged by the gauntlets of Milan Lucic and used as a speed bag by Zdeno Chara in a boxing match that earned the Bruins captain a double minor for roughing, a great non-call in a game teeming with them.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com