Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
In shocking fashion, the champs have taken a standing eight-count.
Whether the dazed Detroit Red Wings can stumble back to their feet, regain their senses and recapture the momentum they once had in this Stanley Cup final, well, that will be illustrated for the hockey world to see in Game 5 tomorrow night, a Saturday Night Special in Motown. Never in the four championships the Wings have won over the past 12 years have they been tested quite like they are now being tested by the gutsy, youthful Pittsburgh Penguins.
The series shifts to Detroit for game 5 on Saturday. Exciting hockey coming up!
from Al Strachan at Fox Sports,
..what do the Hawks do about Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat? They were two of the Hawks’ best players this season and the feeling on the team is that Khabibulin has to stay if the Hawks are to see themselves as serious Stanley Cup contenders. As for Havlat, once he got healthy, he became a major contributor to the Hawks’ cause and a fan favorite.
The Hawks want to keep both those players, but if they are to give themselves some wiggle room to handle Kane, Toews and Keith, they can’t do long-term deals. Yet that’s what both players want.
The answer? Who knows? That’s what they pay GMs for. But this much is certain: The NHL has hoped for decades that it could get a strong presence in Chicago. Now it has one, but the salary cap has put it in jeopardy.
more plus head-shots and Lecavalier talk…
via Scott Burnside of ESPN,
It looks like the potential opponents for the Boston Bruins in next New Year’s Day outdoor game at Fenway Park has been narrowed to two teams, the Philadelphia Flyers or Washington Capitals, ESPN.com has learned.
from Marc Jacobson of ABC 12,
A win for the Red Wings tonight in Pittsburgh will put the Wings just one win away from another championship.
A Grand Blanc man doesn’t play for the team, but he has had a connection to the Wings success over the years.
A great team needs a great goalie, and every goalie needs a great mask. Grand Blanc’s Ray Bishop has been the Red Wings’ go-to guy for masks since 1998. “I’ve done work for Hasek, Legace, Conklin, Osgood, of course. I’ve done stuff for a few guys over the years and it’s been fun.”
Word of mouth has put Bishop Designs on the NHL’s radar. Bishop’s air brushing work first caught the eye of Manny Legace. “He went to the Wings and gave me a chance to paint that mask, and their equipment manager saw what I can do, and he began to trust me.”
continued with video…
from Carlos Frias of the Palm Beach Post,
The Florida Panthers may be getting a new owner, but likely not a new home.
The public company Sports Properties Acquisitions Corp. is in talks to purchase the Panthers and the rights to run the BankAtlantic Center and surrounding properties for a reported $230-$240 million. But unless the new ownership group is willing to pay Broward County the remaining debt for building and improving the arena - another $182 million - they are locked into a lease that will keep them put for the next 20 years.
A move seems unlikely because location is a big part of the Panthers’ appeal. Although they play in a small market and haven’t been to the playoffs in nine years, the deal would allow the new owners to manage and profit from all other events at the BankAtlantic Center. Plus, the current ownership group envisions building a mixed-use entertainment district around the stadium called the City of Oz.
from Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator,
The leader of the National Hockey League Players’ Association may not overtly support a league franchise in Hamilton, but he’s very blunt about what should happen to the one in Phoenix.
“From a players’ perspective, it’s time to pull the plug,” NHLPA executive-director Paul Kelly told The Spectator last night.
Kelly says that NHL owners should not only be doubting that the Coyotes should remain in Phoenix, but that those doubts should have arisen long before now.
Earlier in the day, speaking on Toronto radio station The Fan, Kelly wondered: “How much money must (a franchise) lose before someone says “perhaps they ought not to be there?”
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
“I feel much better today. I’ll go for pre-game skate and then make a decision,” he said of his recovery from an injured right foot. “It’s every day better and better and better and today it’s much better. I have more smiles; more happy. It’s still a little sore but I’m happy.”
At the Red Wings’ morning skate, Datsyuk stayed on the ice for more than an hour after all the regulars had departed. He yukked it up with the healthy scratches, who always stay out for extra work, and worked on tight turns and dangling the puck.
Even though he said he felt better, to onlookers he looked like he was being more careful with his foot – which likely was fractured in Game 2 of the Western Conference final – and was skating a little more gingerly than he had at yesterday’s full practice.
Datsyuk, though, said he felt more confident about his status and he needed the extra work to really give it a test. Still, neither he, nor his coach, would commit to his being in the lineup.
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
This is the time of the year when coaches make their money and can make a difference in a series.
Examples of potential change for Game 4: The Penguins, perhaps were taking a cue from Bill Guerin’s front-of-the net presence on Sergei Gonchar’s game-winning power-play goal in the third period of Game 3, worked long and hard at practice Thursday on having their forwards work hard on give-and-go plays down low—with the emphasis on the deep down-low player going to the net to provide a screen or make a tip.
Bylsma obviously expects Detroit to crash the net hard in Game 4, because he had another drill in which the Penguins lined up four players in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. There was plenty of traffic and lots of screens, all designed to get Fleury used to having his vision screened even more—and work through it.
The Red Wings, on the other hand, practiced the last two days on taking hard shots from down low, firing high, low, whatever, directly in front of the helpless backup goaltenders for Detroit—almost like they were trying to drive the puck through the net and not just over the goal line. Also, there was countless faceoff practice. Countless.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Here are five things to watch for in Thursday night’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins:
1. The Henrik Zetterberg-Sidney Crosby showdown, Part IV
The Wings’ star center has had the better of the Pens’ star center so far, but Detroit coach Mike Babcock believed that 24 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time was too much for Zetterberg in Game 3 as he chased the matchup. So will this free up Crosby in any way Thursday night?...
2. Red Wings’ fatigue?
It’s the team’s fourth game in six nights. Detroit entered the Cup finals banged-up. Will the Wings hit the wall Thursday night, or did the day off Wednesday give them enough time to recharge their batteries? We think too much has been made of this. They’ll be fine.
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