Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Caldwell at the New York Times,
“There are no quitters in here — there’d better not be,” left wing Ryan Smyth said in the dressing room.
The Islanders face elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the end could come Friday, when they face the deeper and more talented Sabres in Game 5 of a best-of-seven series in Buffalo. The Sabres lead three games to one.
Islanders Coach Ted Nolan told his team to forget about the negative aspects of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss, in which a potential game-tying goal by defenseman Brendan Witt with 1 minute 42 seconds left was waved off.
From Mark Herremann at amNewYork,
Oddly enough, for the second time this week, the action was frantic in Toronto, perhaps hockey’s greatest hotbed. They’re not playing hockey there now, but they’re watching it in league headquarters. And for the second time in two games, the watching went against the Islanders.
Actually, this time, the trained eyes in the NHL’s home office didn’t make the ruling. They just conferred with referee Mike Leggo, who had ruled that Brendan Witt’s apparent tying goal with 1:42 left in Game 4 didn’t count because Sabres goalie Ryan Miller had been pushed into the net.
The Islanders have video that suggested otherwise, but, hey, as they say up north, “That’s hockey.”
From Tim Graham of The Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres posted the NHL’s best regular-season record with speed, skill and depth.
Co-captain Daniel Briere mentioned another element the Sabres have been able to feed off: contempt.
Briere noted a healthy disdain for the New York Islanders has contributed to their 3-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“I think the first couple games there wasn’t enough emotion. There was no hate out there,” Briere said after he drew an aggressive penalty that led to Chris Drury’s winning goal in a 4-2 Game Four victory Wednesday night in Nassau Coliseum. “I think slowly we’re starting to see guys hate each other. We’re getting sick of playing against the same guys over and over.
From David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail,
The Buffalo Sabres may have to make one lineup change for Wednesday night’s game against the New York Islanders.
Centre Tim Connolly is “sore” according to Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff and may not be able to play.
Connolly missed almost all of the regular season with a concussion and stress fracture to his leg.
“I hope he can play, but we won’t know for sure until later,” Ruff said after Wednesday’s game-day skate.
However, this came as news to Connolly, who said he felt “fresh.”
from Mark Herrmann of Newsday,
Here’s the plan: Everybody immediately starts praising Alexei Yashin. Writers opine about how much he means to the Islanders, fans chant his name during long stretches when he is off the ice and shriek uncontrollably when he takes a rare shift.
Anyone who goes to Game 4 Wednesday night against the Sabres must reminisce about the good times and mention he is just inches from turning it all around. Finally, and pay careful attention because this is the most important part, shamelessly beg that the Islanders keep Yashin.
from Jim Baumbach at Newsday,
Stickle agreed to talk, but you’re not going to like what he told me. “I’m happy with the job that was done tonight,” he said.
As part of his job, Stickle sits in the press box and focuses on the officials, watching every call (and non-call) live and then on the replay. He was a linesman for 27 years, so he knows penalties.
“I did that job for a long time, so I see things that could become a bone of contention and take a look at it,” Stickle said. “Sometimes we’re wrong, too. But not in these cases tonight.”
from Mark Herrmann at Newsday,
“It’s not something you want to see anybody go through,” said Connolly, 25, whose concussion last May 8 kept him out until the final two regular-season games and the first two games of the Islanders series.
“It’s definitely an injury I wouldn’t wish on anybody,” said DiPietro, 25, who had two concussions in March and returned to spark the Islanders to a series-tying 3-2 win in Buffalo on Saturday, his first appearance since March 25.
The goalie knows how lucky he is to be back so soon. He called missing a few weeks “torture.” He doesn’t have the words to describe what Connolly went through, given that Connolly also missed a season after his first concussion in 2003.
from Chris Russell of the Sporting News,
Wang has been bludgeoned by media pundits and fans across the NHL landscape for being clueless and out of touch with reality. Amongst the charges, hiring Nolan, hiring Garth Snow after firing Smith who was on the job for about four minutes. Or how about the bashing that Wang took after signing star goaltender Rick DiPietro to a high risk, high reward, 15-year contract that ultimately will prove to be a steal.
I don’t know about you, but I’d say so far Wang has come out of this smelling like roses. One year of making the playoffs does not reverse everything, but it does buy you momentum. It buys you hope. It buys you a lot of smiles and the feeling that it is only going to get better from here.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Alexei Yashin is in a familiar position at playoff time — nailed to the bench….
Nolan busted Yashin, 33, down to centre on the fourth line halfway through the first period of the Eastern Conference quarter-final game. Yashin played between Richard Park and Andy Hilbert, while Richard Zednik was promoted to Yashin’s spot with centre Viktor Kozlov and right winger Miroslav Satan. Yashin barely got off the bench in the third period.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Let’s be honest, the Islanders have no business staying with them in this series. Anyone can break down the categories, examine the matchups from every conceivable angle and draw the same conclusion.
Ruff has more than three times as many playoff victories as Nolan has playoff games coached. Ruff is better at making adjustments on the fly. He junked his lines in the second period, shipping listless Ales Kotalik to the fourth line and giving Stafford time with Drury and Dainius Zubrus.
The difference Saturday night was Nolan’s players showed up. The Sabres were absent just long enough for one to slip away. In the playoffs, that’s all it takes.
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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