Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
It is difficult, in today’s NHL, to effect immediate and massive changes in a short period of time, which is why Gillis’s moves were restricted to a handful of changes on the periphery. He signed Pavol Demitra as a free agent, away from the Minnesota Wild. He wooed and eventually coaxed Mats Sundin to sign with his team mid-season. He claimed Kyle Wellwood off waivers. The rest of the improvements – from out of the playoffs to the third seed in the Western Conference standings and the fourth best record overall and putting the receipts for five home playoff dates into the coffers of owner Francesco Aquilini - came mostly from the holdovers, including coach Alain Vigneault, who he inherited and ultimately retained.
From now on, however, Gillis’s managing skills will be put to the test, with the Sedin twins poised for unrestricted free agency, the same as Sundin and the same as Mattias Ohlund.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
What a waste of the Penguins’ stirring 4-3 overtime win at the Verizon Center in Game 5. Now, they must beat the confident Capitals again in their building, a tough assignment under any circumstances, let alone without, in all likelihood, Gonchar.
Good luck with that.
You had better believe the Penguins are going to need every bit of their character and resiliency.
They’re still planning on showing up, though.
“The composure level of this team is pretty high,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “Everybody stays on board.”
from Al Balderas of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
Sure, there were still about three weeks remaining in the regular season but the Ducks needed to start winning in the middle of March just to get a chance at playing in the real playoffs.
Nearly two months later, one has to wonder if their “unofficial” playoffs are taking their toll now that that Ducks are in the thick of the real playoffs. Their 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 and their lazy Sunday afternoon effort in Game 5 serve as strong indicators that the Ducks might have finally hit that proverbial wall.
“You never know. Hopefully that’s the case,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall, one of several Red Wings who aren’t taking any chances. “They’re not going to say that, and we can’t say that because we don’t know how they’re feeling but we feel like we have four good lines in here and have to just keep rolling those four lines. They’ve got some guys in there like Getzlaf and some of the other guys that are playing big minutes in all key situations. Hopefully we can continue to do a good job with Ryan down low and make them tired that way.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo blamed himself for the demise of Canada’s last club in the Stanley Cup playoffs last night.
The Canucks’ captain, considered one of the game’s premier goalies, couldn’t stop enough pucks to force a deciding seventh game against the young and restless Chicago Blackhawks, a team that battled back to overcome two separate one-goal disadvantages to take the six-game series with a madcap but entertaining 7-5 victory.
“I let my teammates down,” said a choked-up Luongo, who cut short his postgame interview because his emotions were getting the best of him.
“It was pretty wide open, but I had to make the saves.”
added 8:14am, Video of Luongo with the media after the game…
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
“Right now we feel more energy and more excited than Pittsburgh,” the flamboyant Russian said after last night’s 5-4 overtime win at Mellon Arena.
“It’s going to be hard for (the Penguins) to come back because those fans (at Washington’s Verizon Center) are going to be crazy and we’re going to be flying out there.”
It’s never wise to question Ovechkin, who has seven goals and six assists in the six games of this series, but given the swing in momentum thus far, don’t place too much stock in it either.
The vast majority of the series has seen the teams glued to within a goal of each other, three have gone to overtime and only one has had a winning margin of more than one goal.
from Damien Cox of the Spin at the Toronto Star,
ll the negative stories in the world - the corporate brawl over the Phoenix Coyotes, the absurd non-suspension of Carolina’s Scott Walker - couldn’t obscure the fact that two games Monday night, the Canucks-Hawks thriller and the OT contest between Washington and Pittsburgh, delivered as much of everything as a hockey fan could want.
You can take your 1-0 and 2-1 games if you want them. Me, the 5-4 Caps win and the 7-5 Chicago triumph represented hockey at its best, a terrific combination of skill, hitting and passion that produced an entertainment package that no other sport could match if the NHL could ever find a way to deliver it on a consistent basis.
It’s the greatest game on earth, particularly when it’s allowed to be.
We’ll leave the Caps and Pens for now since there’s another game in that series to be played. Chicago, meanwhile, roared back from a 4-3 third period deficit and in so doing obliterated the myth of Roberto Luongo for now, if not for good.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
I mean, that was the biggest goal that I scored in my career so I didn’t know what to do,” David Steckel said. “I just started jumping around.”
“I couldn’t get over the boards quick enough,” Mike Green said.
“Just an eight-inch vertical leap,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said, describing his own reaction. “It’s getting higher. Each game that’s more important, I leap a little bit higher.”
“To be honest I just turned around and saw the nearest guy,” Laich said. “It was Tom Poti, and I just about leveled him, the poor guy. It might have been the hardest hit he took tonight. I left my feet, so it would have been a penalty, too. Just elation and excited, grab the nearest guy and hug him to death.”
“Well, it was fun, you know?” said Viktor Kozlov, aka Nice Drago, whose face showed more fun than his quotes. “I’m very excited with everybody else.”
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune,
“At the end of the game, the last five minutes, I’ve never been in a building that I’ve heard so loud,” said Adam Burish, who scored a third-period goal. “I’ve been to concerts, sporting events—there’s nothing I’ve experienced as loud as that.
“We couldn’t hear what coach (Joel Quenneville) was saying. Guys were relaying it. It was like a game of telephone on the bench. Guys were relaying what he was saying all the way down the bench. There was a time when they were playing some kind of loud rock music. You couldn’t even hear what song was playing. It was pretty cool.”
The Hawks are going to the conference finals for the first time since 1995, and it’s hard to overstate what that means for a franchise that was all but dead until the last few seasons. But suddenly, on the wings of a young roster and a marketing plan that brought the franchise into the 20th Century (yes, I know it’s the 21st), the Hawks will soon be one of the four teams left in the NHL playoffs.
Lead by the youngsters Patrick Kane (3 goals) and Jonathan Toews (2 goals), the Blackhawks defeat the Vancouver Canucks 7-5.
David Steckel deflects a shot from Brooks Laich and we move on to game 7 in Washington.
One more thing, Bruce Boudreau needs to bet some better collar stays to prevent his shirt collar from pointing upwards.
added 10:44pm, Game highlights via Versus can be watched below…
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.
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