Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
The lessons learned from last spring’s grueling climb to the hockey mountain—one that ended just two wins short of reaching the desired peak—were the foundation, they say, of the comeback the Penguins fashioned against the favored Washington Capitals in the second round.
“We’ve had some challenges and gone through different things,” Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby said after Sunday’s practice. “I look back to last year, and pretty much every game we really played well in the playoffs. We found a way to win.
“There have been times in these playoffs where we’ve played some good hockey and haven’t gotten breaks. That can be frustrating and that can force you to change things. But I think we’ve really stuck by what we need to do to play well and to be successful. And going through those things builds confidence for sure.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Game 1 of the Western Conference finals looked awfully familiar.
It reminded us of the first two games the young Pittsburgh Penguins played in Detroit last June in the Stanley Cup finals. The Pens never touched the puck and wondered what had just hit them. By the time they recovered in the series, it was too little, too late.
The Detroit Red Wings delivered that same lesson Sunday, controlling large stretches of the afternoon in a dominating 5-2 victory over the young Chicago Blackhawks.
The class in question Sunday was Puck Possession 101, a course the Red Wings have taught many times to the rest of the league.
“Welcome to the Western Conference finals, kids,” the Wings seemingly said loud and clear Sunday. “Did we tell you this was our eighth trip here in 14 seasons and third in a row?
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Adam Burish knew immediately there was a problem.
“I saw his skate come right up my throat, and right away I grabbed my neck and said there’s something coming out here,” Burish said. “There were a couple drips, so I was pretty darn lucky.”
It was the second period, and Burish and linemate Ben Eager were forechecking in the Detroit zone when Eager and a Detroit player got tied up. Eager lost his balance and his skate flew up and clipped Burish in the throat.
It was a play reminiscent to the scary Richard Zednik incident last season, when Olli Jokinen’s skate blade sliced Zednik’s jugular vein.
But Burish was more fortunate; he skated away from Eager’s out-of-control skate knowing he was a lucky man.
“I don’t know how I’m so darn lucky,” Burish said. “It was centimeters, millimeters away from slicing (his throat).”
added 8:27pm, Video of the incident is included in the game hightlights from NBC via ESPN below. The skate to throat incident starts at the 45 second mark…
added 9:45pm, A 2nd video of the incident has been added below…
Q. Talk about the job that Dan did today.
MIKE BABCOCK: You know, obviously he’s playing with real good players, playing on a good line. They’re playing against important people in the game.
I thought we were in trouble really off the start of the game, whether it was engagement, whether it was coming off a big series, whether it was not as much time, whatever, we weren’t very good, and they were taking it to us. They were up 1?0. He made a real good shot. Then I thought we settled in and got playing real well after that point. Any time you’re driving into the net, get your stick on a puck, that’s just a good hockey goal, a good playoff goal.
Q. Surprised at all at the quality of chances those guys were able to generate against Seabrook and Keith?
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think both teams had a number of chances, high quality chances. We’ve got to be way better than that today. I didn’t like our game. We have to be - we got to play perfect hockey. Today we certainly, even though we were at 2-2 in the third, even though we probably would love to be there at that stage of the game, we’ve got to be better.
Q. Your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie. Can you talk about Nikolai’s play tonight.
JOEL QUENNEVILLE: I think our best penalty killing is going to be staying out of the box. They’re dangerous. He had a couple key saves there in the second, held us in the game.
But I think their power play has so many looks and weapons on it that trying to stay out of the box, but certainly we’re going to need our goaltender to make some key saves, and he did there today.
Wings defeat the Blackhawks 5-2 as Cleary, Franzen and Zetterberg dominate.
added 5:52pm, Post-game… Chris, how did you guys shutdown Toews? Ozzie: Uh, that was Nick.
added 6:23pm, Video hightlights of game 1 below…
added 6:45pm, from Jason Kay of The Hockey News,
Move over Sid vs. Ovie, we may just have a new best playoff series of 2009.
The anticipation for the Detroit-Chicago Western Conference final was offense-on-offense; the No. 1 goal-scoring team in the regular season (Wings) against the No. 4 (Chicago).
Toss in Detroit’s 19th-ranked defense and a Chicago goalie in Nikolai Khabibulin who sported an .897 save percentage in this year’s playoffs, and the expectation was a smorgasbord of excitement.
And despite the teams combining for a relatively tame seven tallies (it could have easily been double), that’s exactly what we got.
from Jeff Gordon of the Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If the Ducks don’t want to sign Chris Pronger to a contract extension, the Blues should wait a year and take their chances in free agency.
In a year, the Blues will be positioned to invest in another veteran player. Jay McKee and Paul Kariya will be headed to free agency, giving the Blues the option to reallocate some or all of that $10 million. (Moving either guy before then will be difficult, given their high pay.)
In a year, the Blues could free up lots of salary cap room while other teams face severe cap crises.
In a year, the Blues will know what they have in Alex Pietrangelo – a potential power-play quarterback currently lacking the strength to play at this level.
With the conference finals set to start Sunday, our experts ponder what lies ahead. ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun and ESPN The Magazine’s E.J. Hradek answer these 10 burning questions:
There have been a few controversial calls/noncalls in the first two rounds. How would you rate the officiating in the playoffs so far?
Burnside: I think there are always going to be complaints about officiating given the personalities of the teams and the officials involved, so I’m not troubled by what I see in terms of in-game calls. What still boggles the mind is how often the NHL makes itself look cartoonish by failing to even enforce its own rules, as was the case when league officials decided not to suspend Game 7 overtime hero Scott Walker for sucker-punching Aaron Ward earlier in the Carolina/Boston series. Unbelievable.
Hradek: I’m not big on beating up the refs. I think they have an incredibly tough job. On the ice, things are happening so fast and they don’t get a second look (usually). On the whole, they have done a very good job. Do they get every call right? No. But I think they officiate their sport better than what we see in the NFL, NBA and MLB.
LeBrun: I think it’s been decent. People get upset because there’s so much on the line and they believe their team is getting slighted, but obviously there’s no such thing….
via the Mailbox of Ray Stein of the Columbus Dispatch,
Editor: In 1980, the U.S. was crushed with economic despair and had been thrust into a de facto war with Iran. It was a low point for our nation. The unlikely turning point was a group of kids who, against all odds, beat the Soviet Union national hockey team in Lake Placid, N.Y. They gave us hope. Hockey gave us a turning point.
Fast forward to our current economic despair and war in the Middle East. Detroit, being the undisputed epicenter of economic pain with more than its fair share of men and women bearing the brunt of military service, has new hope. Let’s go, Red Wings! Let’s go, Detroit!
—Craig Yeack, Dublin
Craig: It would be easy to say, “Let’s not get carried away.” But it would be easier to point out that the U.S. hockey team didn’t have a fraud in goal and a cow parked in front of the net in a Holmstrom sweater. C’mon, ‘Hawks.
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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