Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.”
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
The Hawks head into Monday night’s Game 6 with a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series and can advance to the conference finals with a victory over the Canucks at the United Center.
“It’s going to be a chance for us to close it out and go to a place maybe we didn’t think we could get to in the conference finals,” winger Patrick Kane said. “We’re excited for it. We’re going to bring our best game, and I’m sure they will too.”...
“We have to come ready to go knowing they’re going to come [hard] right off the bat,” said Hawks winger Dustin Byfuglien, who had two goals Saturday. “It’s not going to be an easy win. They’re going to battle right to the end. They’re more than capable of coming in with a great game. We just have to weather it.”
from Mark Whicker of the OC Register,
No, the Ducks really were paying attention. They proved it after Game 5. If not during.
Todd Marchant: “At times it looked like we didn’t want the puck.”
Teemu Selanne: “We had no business being in that game. We weren’t mentally prepared.”
James Wisniewski: “We can’t play like it’s Game 38 of the regular season.”
Instead, it might well have been Game Next-To-Last of the whole season, this 4-1 loss to the Red Wings that shoved the Ducks into a 2-3 hole in the NHL Western Conference semifinals, with Game 6 in Anaheim on Tuesday.
The Boston Bruins shutout the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0. Chara was dominant on the ice tonight and the Canes could not match the desperation the B’s played with.
added 10:27pm, With the game well in hand, Bruins up 4-0 and about three minutes to go, Scott Walker of the Canes punches Aaron Ward of the Bruins.
Ward received 2 for roughing, Walker, 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct.
added 10:57pm, Julien said in post-game presser that there is some fear Ward may have a broken orbital bone.
from Roy MacGregor (Monday edition) of the Globe and Mail,
• Washington defenceman Mike Green, a regular-season sensation and some say the favourite to take the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman, may have played himself off the Canadian Olympic team with his performance in this series. His play in his own end has been horrific; his play at the other end far below his regular-season standard.
• Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby never takes a shift off. Though observers have often criticized him for being a “whiner,” he plays with a passion and determination that should make him captain of the Canadian Olympic hockey team.
• Washington’s Alexander Semin, who had lead the league in scoring before getting injured earlier in the year and who is widely held to be one of the game’s great talents, has been a bust this series after being the star of Washington’s first-round victory over the New York Rangers.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Did the Anaheim Ducks walk all the way to Detroit for Game 5?
Because they sure looked tired Sunday evening in a 4-1 loss to the Red Wings, a score that didn’t come close to measuring up to the real story on the ice. The 38-17 shot differential was more telling.
This was men against boys. A four-line, fresh-legged Red Wings outfit skating circles around a one-line, ragged Ducks squad trying to come up for air.
“No, for sure, we did not. We did not,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said when asked if he saw enough of a compete level from his squad. “I thought at times we looked like worn down or whatever word you want to use to describe it.”
Worn down works for us, Randy.
added 9:55pm, from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
When an unheralded depth player like Darren Helm can elevate his play to the same stratosphere as his more glorified teammates like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the opposition doesn’t have a hope against the Detroit Red Wings.
That reality certainly set in for the Anaheim Ducks last night. They were thoroughly trashed in Detroit’s 4-1 victory to pull ahead in the Stanley Cup conference semi-final 3-2 with Game 6 back in Anaheim Tuesday evening.
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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