Kukla's Korner Hockey
From David Staples in his Cult of Hockey blog at the Edmonton Journal,
At this point, I would place the Penguins development alongside the Oilers of 1981 or 1982.
The ‘Guins [...] are getting schooled by a superior team, as happened to the Oilers in 1981, but also humiliated by their own inconsistent, nervous, not ready for prime time effort, as happened to the Oilers against the Kings in 1982, when the “choke” [word] was uttered in Edmonton, just as it is surely now being whispered in Pittsburgh.
The next few games will tell the story for the Pens. Are they really the Oilers of 1983, just a few hard lessons away from Stanley Cup dominance? Or is this a longer road yet? My guesstimate is its the latter. They’ve still got some serious eliminating to do of players who aren’t capable enough, as well as some major maturing of those who are.
more with a breakdown of errors in the game
As mentioned yesterday, the NHL hosted a “Legends” evening on Sunday for the media, featuring Red Wings’ stars of the 1950s including Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Alex Delvecchio, Marty Pavelich and Red Kelly.
Paul Kukla attended and said it was a wonderful event, telling me “it was a great night, where hockey reporters turned into fans too.” And he wasn’t the only one who was impressed. As Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun remarked, “every now and then, Gary Bettman’s league gets something absolutely, spot-on perfect.”
Here’s a short video clip from the Canadian Press, talking to some of those Hall of Fame players on Sunday.
A nice brochure was handed out at the event “A Salute To The Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Dynasty” featuring photos of the team and individual players from those Stanley Cup years 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
A nice little collectible—so leave a note in the comments by midnight EST if you’re interested (don’t forget to provide your email address) and we’ll mail the brochure to a randomly-drawn winner.
from Matt Sober of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Yet as the faithful and newly converted alike celebrate the Penguins’ miraculous berth in the Stanley Cup Final, a few of us still don’t feel the presence of Sid in our lives.
And he has been declared the savior, has he not?
It’s not so much that I don’t like the Penguins as I have never had much interest in hockey, which continues to feel a lot like watching pinball for two-and-a-half hours. Or at least pinball with the occasional bloody nose.
But the Penguins? Well, with the possible exception of Jarkko Ruutu, they all seem likable enough.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The big difference between these teams is defence. Where the Red Wings’ big four of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart got the puck moving quickly out of their own zone in the face of an improved fore-checking effort from the Penguins last night, Pittsburgh’s Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik once again could not do likewise when the Red Wings stormed the Penguins’ zone.
from Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Who would have thought that after rolling through the first three rounds with a 12-2 record, the Penguins would look so utterly feeble in the final?
The reasons are many.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been ordinary, at best. The Penguins’ other stars, Hossa and Sidney Crosby, are barely noticeable, though Crosby had six shots last night and is facing the best defenseman in the world, Nicklas Lidstrom, on most shifts. Their role players are doing nothing compared to Detroit’s.
And, oh yes, the Red Wings are pretty good.
Steve Levy, Don Cherry and Barry Melrose recap Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, watch the video below…
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
Stuart realizes he may have to give in when it comes to salary to stay in Detroit, but the results of the last 27 games for Brad seem to indicate the two sides should be able to get a deal done.
After Stuart was a minus-16 in his first 63 games in Los Angeles this season, the game plan in Detroit to take advantage of the defense’s mobility and skills certainly plays right into Brad’s wheelhouse.
“Coach Babcock spelled out what he wanted me to do, what my role was from Day 1,” Stuart acknowledged. “The game plan is what you would expect from a winning team like this: Keep it simple ... and if you see you can make a play or make a hit go ahead.”
from the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs blog at CBC,
The Red Wings are doing to the Penguins exactly what they’ve done to everybody else all year long: quick breakouts with flawless outlet passing from the peerless Nick Lidstrom and the steal of the century, Brian Rafalski. Then, games of keep-away between Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, often times ending up with the puck in the net.
Nothing is bigger proof that Lou Lamoriello has lost a few marbles in New Jersey than his foolish decision to let Rafalski skate as a free agent last summer. Rafalski is one of the few players in the league who could be mentioned in the same breath with Lidstrom as a puck-moving defenseman, and while he might not have Lidstrom’s all-around defensive skill, he makes it even easier for Lidstrom to play in his own end – which he already made look easy without Rafalski around.
more SCF bits…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
There seems little doubt now that the Wings will capture their fourth Cup in 11 years sometime in the next 7-10 days, with the number of games it will take them to finish off the punchless Penguins seemingly the only uncertainty.
“Oh, we can play better,” said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.
The shame of it all, unfortunately, is that it appears unlikely that this confrontation will meet the promise it once held, the possibility that it would evolve into the kind of thrilling series that would excite traditional hockey fans and make the greater North American sports market sit up and marvel at the NHL’s brand of entertainment.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
History suggests the Penguins have very little hope of winning the Stanley Cup this season.
Reality suggests they have absolutely none, unless they can figure out how to make some radical changes during the rest of the series.
Start doing some dramatically different stuff, like scoring a goal every now and then.
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 email@example.com