Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Bruce Dowbiggin of the Calgary Herald,
Kent Douglas, 1962 Calder Trophy winner who used the largest stick in history, passed away peacefully at his home in Wasaga Beach, Ont., at age 73, following a battle with cancer. He was the first defenceman to win the rookie award and a loyal friend.
Hopes are high as the Vancouver Canucks get ready for their first playoff game Wednesday at home against the St. Louis Blues. If you want to cheer on your team in person, be prepared to pay. Regular price playoff tickets for the Canucks cost between $100 and $400 each—plus service charges—in round one.
On the street there is a willingness to go the see the Canucks in the post-season. But with a shaky economy, the prices are too steep for fans like this guy. “Not worth the money to me. The chances are, if you’re sitting in the nosebleed section for that much, it’s just not worth it. I’d rather watch it on TV.”
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
They’ve won only one of their last six games away from the Saddledome, were shutout three times and scored a grand total of four goals in those games.
Add the way Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has dominated the Flames—a 22-5-2 career mark, plus the seven-game series win for Tampa Bay in the 2004 Stanley Cup final—and the Flames’ putrid powerplay that’s been blanked the last 10 games (and on a zero-for-43 skid), it’s easy to write off Calgary.
“The pressure will be on them,” said centre Craig Conroy, trotting out the ‘us-against-the-world’ matra you’ll hear many times in the coming days. “Everybody is expecting them to win, and has kinda written us off a bit.
“That’s OK. That was the regular season and now things start fresh.”
Blue Jackets fans are asked how the playoffs work…
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
You’re welcome, Pittsburgh.
Thanks to a mystifyingly listless effort against the New York Rangers last night, the Flyers will have to open the playoffs in Pittsburgh, of all places. They dropped to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, while the idle Penguins completed a surge from nowhere to the fourth seed and home-ice advantage.
In short, this is about as bad a scenario as the Flyers could have conjured for themselves.
“It’s probably my fault,” coach John Stevens said after his team blew a third-period lead to lose, 4-3, to a Rangers team with nothing to play for.
“Nothing for me ever comes easy. So I think this group has always found a way to do it the hard way, but they’ve always found a way to do it.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
San Jose lost only four of its first 38 games in regulation; survived a 14-game period in which they played without their No. 1 goaltender Evgeni Nabokov; and as recently as three weeks ago, were winning games on a regular basis, despite playing without seven injured regulars.
In some NHL markets, that would constitute reasons for a parade. In San Jose, where the Sharks won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s regular-season champions, it represents a first step only.
“A lot of teams prepare just to get into the playoffs and then see what happens,” said Sharks defenceman Rob Blake. “Our focus, all year, is to do something in the playoffs - and knowing you have the group that could accomplish that is a big difference.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Gomez was a significant disappointment this season. The Blueshirts’ putative first-line pivot played only slightly better hockey for John Tortorella than he did for Tom Renney, finishing a 58-point season (16-42) by collecting four points (0-4) in the final eight games and 10 points (1-9) in the final 16.
“It was a hard year, not that I didn’t make it hard on myself,” Gomez said. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to the playoffs and the chance to make things right, not for myself, but for the team.”
from Ted Leonsis of Ted’s Take,
I have already started to receive angst-filled emails from certain Caps fans pining away for the good old days and concerned about our D; our goaltending; our playoff readiness; our toughness; our overabundance of skill; our lack of heart; our size; our skill level; our leadership; our grittiness; our speed; our GM; our coach; our ownership; our lack of secondary scoring; lack of tickets available; the price of tickets; the food; the traffic; the Metro schedule; the ushers; and the ice. One fan even said - and I quote - “I am 95 percent sure you will lose this series because…”
Ninety-five percent? Why not 96 percent? What was the algorithm that created that prediction?
Rather than complain, let it all hang out now. Send them all my way. Do it today and all day tomorrow….
from Greg Logan of Newsday,
The Isles gave up at least five goals in nine of their last 12 games, which underlined how much they especially missed goaltender Rick DiPietro, who was limited to five games by a left knee that did not respond well to surgery in June and a second procedure in October.
Asked where DiPietro stands now, coach Scott Gordon said, “He’s upbeat. I don’t know the specifics of his timetable, but he’s been encouraged with the way things are going and he fully expects to be on the ice sometime in mid-summer and ready to go.’‘
Islanders fans will believe it when they see it. DiPietro recently was seen on crutches at the physical therapy facility where several Islanders do their rehabilitation. No explanation was immediately available from the Islanders, who previously released a statement saying he will be ready for training camp in September.
more on the Islanders
“We need to sign some free agents- spend some money. If you look on the roster of all the teams who are going to compete for the playoffs- but not just the playoffs because I don’t want to compete for just the playoffs- I want to compete for a Cup. I think the city deserves it. Hopefully we can sign some free agents.”
-Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers. More from Ben Wright at Blueland Blog.
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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