Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
Doubts? Sure, there were doubts. Almost everyone within the Detroit Red Wings had them at the some point last summer.
Jimmy Howard, after all, was no longer a kid. He was a 26-year-old goaltender who had spent the last four years toiling in the minors. Even an organization that had prided itself on being patient began to wonder if time had run out.
“I’ll be honest. It was doubtful whether he could play in the NHL,” said Jimmy Devellano, a long-time executive with the Red Wings. “We believe in trying to give everybody maximum time to develop, because obviously when we drafted them we saw something in them. And we try not to rush development.
“But I would say Jimmy Howard took it to the extreme, because generally after four years you really should know. You really should. But we didn’t.”
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
It might seem a little early to start talking about the Washington Capitals as a team of destiny, but nights like this one start building a case, a foundation for greatness, if you will.
The Capitals gave the Montreal Canadiens a stark lesson in seizing the moment and stealing a win as they came from one goal down late in the second period to roll over Montreal by a 6-3 score.
The Capitals now lead the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series 3-1 and can wrap it up Friday night in Washington. Given the way the Caps surgically carved the life out of the Canadiens on Wednesday night, one might fairly suggest Game 5 has become little more than a formality.
“We had our teeth in the apple. This smelled like a win,” Montreal defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron said.
from Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe,
There might be better things in sports than Stanley Cup playoff overtime hockey, but I can’t think of any right now. Overtime playoff hockey isn’t a fabricated duel of penalty shots. It’s not football, where you usually win if you correctly call the coin toss. It’s not baseball, where you know you have one last shot if you are the home team. No. Hockey’s playoff overtime is two teams skating up and down the ice until one drops to sudden death.
First goal wins.
Sudden life for the Boston Bruins.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Lindy Ruff’s wallet could be a few bucks lighter after he’s finished paying a fine for criticizing the officials, but you could understand his frustration after the game Wednesday. A terrible call in the third period shifted momentum to the Bruins and enabled them to crawl back from another two-goal deficit.
Cody McCormick was summoned by Buffalo from Portland to add some much-needed muscle and tenacity, and that’s exactly what he provided. He made a great play to set up Tim Kennedy for the first goal. And he was going hard to the net when he was taken off of his feet before slamming into Tuukka Rask, leading to goaltender interference.
Terrible call? Definitely.
Tough break? Yes.
Ruff had a legitimate beef and allowed his emotions to get the better of him, plain and simple.
continued and watch a portion of Ruff’s post game conference below…
from Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press,
Somewhere, a vindicated Gary Bettman is smirking.
The personality of these playoffs, barely a week old, is precisely why the NHL commissioner steered hockey into a 10-month work stoppage nearly six years ago when league owners demanded fiscal certainty.
The salary cap put a premium on identifying stars worthy of those new league-mandated maximum contracts while emboldening lesser-talented teams with hope that they could advance further under the new financial rules. The better teams could no longer hoard offensive depth on their third and fourth lines.
If there were a Bettman Cup, the Wings and Phoenix would play for it in this series.
from John Glennon of the Tennessean,
ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose sees at least three things that have allowed the Predators to keep Chicago in check thus far: more desire, more physical play and intelligent play in their own zone.
“Nashville’s a very good defensive team and they don’t beat themselves,’’ Melrose said. “You don’t see them giving up many two-on-ones. They don’t give up a lot of chances and they don’t give up a lot of easy goals.
“The thing is that the ‘Hawks want it to come easy and Nashville is making it hard. That’s why the Predators are winning and that’s why they deserve to be winning.’‘
Here’s a breakdown by position of what the Predators are doing so well to stifle the Blackhawks.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
It’s obvious Robin Lehner does not scare easily.
A promising puckstopper in the Senators organization, he was at Scotiabank Place Wednesday morning and barely batted an eye at the scene. He even seemed cool, calm and collected as he spoke with assistant GM Tim Murray in one of the haunted hallways….
Get this: It even appeared as though he relished the opportunity to be in their shoes!
Foolish young man, eh? He’ll learn. He’ll discover soon enough what has already been found out by the likes of Patrick Lalime, Ray Emery, Damian Rhodes, Tom Barrasso, Ron Tugnutt, Dominik Hasek, Martin Gerber and Martin Prusek.
We’re talking about the fact that Ottawa is a goalie graveyard, of course.
from Sam Carchidi of Broad Street Bull,
Suddenly, the Flyers’ three-games-to-one lead over New Jersey doesn’t look so commanding.
Ville (rhymes with Philly) Leino, who has shown offensive promise, and David Laliberte will probably be inserted into the lineup Thursday in Newark. Laliberte had a cup of coffee with the Flyers earlier this season before being sent back to the AHL Phantoms.
General manager Paul Holmgren believes the Flyers will bond together and raise their level of play.
“I expect us to react in a positive way,” he said.
Still, there’s no denying that losing Carter and Gagne is a crusher. Not only are they quality scorers, but they are also effective on the power play and penalty kill. In addition, Carter is one of the team’s best in the faceoff circle, and Gagne is an excellent defensive player.
Courtesy of Alexander Ovechkin. Habs Inside/Out has the explanation that makes sense.
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
Rumours of retirement are being whispered in the halls of Joe Louis Arena, what with the Detroit Red Wings captain turning 40 next Wednesday – just a day after a potential Game 7 in Phoenix, should the series go the distance.
With Lidstrom’s contract expiring this summer and the series tied 2-2, his final NHL appearance could even come this weekend if Phoenix takes the next two games.
Not that anyone’s betting on it.
“It’s going to come sooner or later,” Lidstrom said, chuckling at all the attention his milestone birthday is getting of late. “I’m getting up there in age, people are watching me closely and think something’s going to happen, but … nothing’s really changed. I know what I have to do. I feel the same out there.”
He also, incredibly, still looks very much like the same player – even 19 years on in a career regarded as one of the best in history for a blueliner.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org