Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
The start of the Stanley Cup final most people will agree will be the hardest-fought and most exciting in recent memory is only hours away. On one side, at home in Detroit, a Red Wings team clearly blessed with experience. On the other, the Pittsburgh Penguins, losers of only two games in three series and armed with a maturity far beyond their years.
What’s not to like, eh?
They are, clearly, the two best teams in the league. Teams that deserve to be where they are, strong in every area from the nets outward. Everything points to a long series of either six or seven games, but no matter who wins, a word of caution: let’s not get carried away to the point of anointing the survivor the beginning of a dynasty.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The prospect of holding the NHL Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 1, 2009 is in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Yankees New York Yankees attempting to convince the city that a pair of major concerns can be overcome so the Rangers New York Rangers can play an outdoor game in The Bronx before the World’s Most Famous Stadium closes its doors.
“We’re negotiating with the city on two issues that need to be resolved within the next few days in order for us to be able to go forward with the NHL,” Yankees’ COO Lonn Trost told The Post last night. “We want to have the game here and the NHL wants to have the game here, so now it’s a matter of us settling these concerns.”
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Pittsburgh and Detroit, the two teams that struck the right balance between talent and toughness, have taken their rightful place in the Stanley Cup finals. The best-of-seven series begins tonight in Joe Louis Arena. The matchup is precisely what the NHL had in mind while coming out of its darkest era.
Ability or aggression? Why not have both? Both teams did and were superpowers during the regular season. Detroit won the Presidents’ Trophy for having the NHL’s best record. Pittsburgh finished second in the Eastern Conference even though it was without superstar center Sidney Crosby for 29 games.
from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,
...But here’s a news flash for the national media:
Crosby may be “the new face of the NHL.”
But Zetterberg could be.
This is a kid who is rock-star good-looking, has a high-profile girlfriend, mad skills, a humble demeanor and a knack for finding the puck as if he and it were separated at birth. His numbers are at superstar levels. He makes everyone around him better. He’s fast, dynamic, tough on defense, has an almost cosmic connection with linemate Pavel Datsyuk and, finally—and here’s the part that few people know—the guy is damn close to eloquent.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The conventional wisdom is that, while the home team’s mandate is to hold serve by winning the first two games of a series, the visitors’ realistic objective is to win one of those two, thus positioning themselves to capture the series if they can win their home games.
“When you start on the road, you want to get at least one game,” center Max Talbot said.
Odds are that if the Penguins were offered a guarantee that they could take one victory out of the first two games, they would take it. Gladly.
Defenseman Hal Gill, however, believes they should aim for something more lofty, that the Penguins will be best-served if they enter the series committed to nothing less than carrying a 2-0 lead into Game 3 Wednesday at Mellon Arena.
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Will one obliterate the other?
Will it even make a dent?
Or will the objects bounce off one other, prompting the child to repeat the experiment?
Seven games, sweep either way or something in-between. No outcome would be a shock.
For all we know, Detroit could impose its system and hoard the puck and expose the Penguins as not-ready-for-prime-timers who rode great fortune to the final only to find they don’t yet belong on hockey’s biggest stage.
Or the Penguins could use their fresh, young legs to jump the Wings early and expose them as top-heavy, over-the-hill softies who were lucky the Dallas Stars were so fried by the time the Western Conference final commenced.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Crosby was outstanding against the Flyers - he did all the little things to help generate offence, and worked all three zones very effectively. The level he went to against the Flyers was a quantum leap forward, but there’s got to be another gear there, and I suspect that there is.
I think Crosby is also acutely aware of his environment. He knows this is a potentially defining moment for him at an early stage in his career. He’s going to give us his best effort and I think it will be even better than what we saw against Philadelphia.
I don’t know if it will be enough to win the Cup, but I expect this will be the best of Sidney Crosby that we’ve seen this year.
more with a prediction from Bob…
from Dave Naylor of the Globe and Mail,
So when the NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association drastically reformed their collective labour agreement in the summer of 2005, taking away the economic advantage clubs such as Detroit had enjoyed, it was fair to ponder what might become of the great Red Wings dynasty.
Well, with nearly three full seasons of postlockout hockey in the books, the answer to that question is clear. As they get set to open the Stanley Cup final at home tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Red Wings are trying to put the finishing touches not just on a stellar season, but also on the most successful start for any team in the NHL’s three-year-old postlockout era.
from Empty Netters,
Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Hal Gill, Brooks Orpik and company. The Red Wings make their living on offense in front of the net. Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen (if he’s healthy) and others will try to make life miserable for Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s up to Gill and the crew to nullify that.
Who needs to be the difference for the Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Everyone talks about their offense, but it’s the defense these two play that makes them special. They’ll need to play like the Selke Trophy candidates they are in order to help limit Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
This week’s topic: Again, the start of the Stanley Cup finals. What else?
Scott Burnside: Hello, Damien. Happy Stanley Cup finals! Are you pumped about your trip down Highway 401 to Detroit? Can’t wait for Big Al, The World’s Most Famous Zamboni Driver, to send bits of octopi flying around Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night to kick off the big tilt.
Damien Cox: I think this one’s going to be good. Then again, I thought last season’s would be, and it was, well, about as exciting as watching you order lunch. Being a veteran of the Detroit-Windsor corridor, how do you think people will react when they learn of your new betrothed, the Penguins of Pittsburgh?
much more on the series at ESPN…
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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