Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Justin Bourne of The Score,
Getting Jeff Carter the eighth-toughest competition amongst the Kings is accomplishing that mission pretty well - it’s led to 24 points in 24 playoff games (Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown see the toughest opposition).
At the other end of the rink, Alain Vigneault might be missing something. He makes a clear effort to deploy his players as effectively as possible, but I think his usage of Rick Nash is off.
Nash is like Carter in a multitude of ways. He is also large (6’4”, 213 pounds), he is also fast, and he can also score goals. Since Carter joined the league in 2005-2006, he is 11th in total goals and 11th in goals-per-game. Nash is fifth and third, respectively, in those categories over that same time. Like Carter, Nash doesn’t need his hand held. You could put him with me and my cat Jiggs, and he’s still getting an elite number of shots per game (basically like it was in Columbus), and that leads to goal creation.
But for all his raw skill, Rick Nash isn’t built to accent someone else’s abilities. For all his raw dominance, he’s just not a great complimentary player. He might create chances for linemates by driving the puck to the net and getting shots, but those type of opportunities - putbacks, scramble whacks and the like - can be buried by basically anyone. You don’t need to run him out there with a center like Derek Stepan, because he’s not a tic-tac-toe type creator.
from Tim Wharnsby of CBC,
Here are three storylines for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers on Hockey Night in Canada from Madison Square Garden on Wednesday evening...
Will this be Darryl Sutter's final game behind the Kings bench?
Sutter will turn 56 on Aug. 19. Since his playing days ended in 1987, he has been behind a bench on-and-off for the past 36 years, beginning as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant in the 1987-88 season.
In 1989-90 with the IHL's Indianapolis Ice, he won a Turner Cup in his second full season as a head coach and added a seventh Stanley Cup crown to his family's legacy with the Kings two years ago.
At first, he turned down Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi's offer to coach the Kings in December 2011. He was content with his life on his ranch near Viking, Alta. Will two championships be enough or does he want a kick at the can to become the first head coach to win back-to-back titles since Scotty Bowman with Detroit in 1996-97 and 1997-98?
two more storylines...
added 2:02pm, Video of Alain Vigneault meeting with the media is below..
Q. Is the mood different from yesterday? The guys seemed a little down yesterday. You thought they'd be more upbeat today.
COACH VIGNEAULT: Not sure what you guys expected. But I think our overall mood was the one that was expected and appropriate. I didn't think anybody would be making cartwheels yesterday.
Today we're back at work. We had a good meeting this morning. We're getting ready for a good hockey game tonight.
Q. I'm assuming all lineup decisions will be a game time?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Your persistence, I love it (smiling).
from Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Register,
The Stanley Cup will be at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, polished, handled by a man in white gloves, ready to be turned over to the Kings for another summer of debauchery. But first, they need to beat the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Final. The Kings lead 3-0 in the best-of-7 series.
“We've got the rest of our lives to see our friends and family, make sure they have tickets and all that,” Kings winger Justin Williams said Tuesday. “You have, usually, one chance – and this is our second chance – to do it, to win a Stanley Cup, to be remembered forever.”
There hasn’t been a Final sweep since 1998. Since then, only one team has even taken a 3-0 series lead. That was the Kings, in 2012, who beat the Devils in overtime twice then shut them out in Game 3.
Here they are again. After comeback, overtimes wins in Games 1 and 2 at home, the Kings beat the Rangers, 3-0, in Game 3 on Monday night and closed in on their second championship in 24 months.
Is it over tonight?
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
These days, it’s all about the “puck-possession game.” It was the Red Wings, coming out of the 2004-05 lockout and the new rules that opened up the game, who pioneered that style.
It is the Los Angeles Kings who may well have perfected it. It is the dominant style of the Western Conference. For proponents of analytics, this style of hockey is superior. If you’re on the plus-side of shot differential over the long term, you should prevail.
They Kings are playing the New York Rangers, a team built on speed, timely scoring and solid goaltending. The Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens, a similarly built team. The Maple Leafs played this style of game, although not nearly as successfully.
There isn’t a flashy name for it yet and there won’t be unless the Rangers win the Cup. For now, let’s call it “Stop and Go” hockey.
GMs across the league will be watching to see what team and what style prevails. And they’ll be sure to copy it, both in the drafting of players, the signing of free agents and the philosophies installed by coaches.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The Rangers have come too far and have accomplished too much for the Stanley Cup finals to end in an ignominious sweep. They have done too much heavy lifting to simply be discarded onto the scrap heap of history and to be remembered — if remembered at all in the grand scheme of things — as a tomato can of an opponent on hockey’s biggest stage.
The Rangers owe themselves better than that. Win or lose, they owe themselves a Game 4 performance at the Garden they will be able to reflect upon with pride. If the Blueshirts are going to go out, at least it should be on their shields.
“I really believe this is going to be our best effort,” Brad Richards told The Post on Wednesday. “We have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.”
They are going to have to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and equally to the point, they are going to have to be able to look each other in the eye when Game 4 is said and done, after which either the Kings will become the second visiting team to raise the Cup on Garden ice — joining the hated 1972 Bruins — or both the Kings and Rangers will be boarding their respective charters to L.A. for Game 5 on Friday.
This can be a cruel, tough, awful game. Pure joy turns to devastation on a hockey rink in the amount of time it takes a puck to hit a defenceman’s skate and ricochet into the top corner.
The one thing that separates the chase for the Stanley Cup from championships in other pro sports is the sheer level of attrition involved in winning it. Teams fall off one by one until eventually you are left with a survivor. The unbridled emotion you see on the ice whenever that beautiful trophy is handed out can largely be attributed to the length of the journey.
-Chris Johnston of Sportsnet on the plight of the New York Rangers. Read more at Sportsnet.
from Michael O'Connell of The Hollywood Reporter,
With no overtime and a decisive early lead for the Los Angeles Kings, Monday's 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers predictably saw the most modest ratings yet for the 2014 Stanley Cup finals.
The first game of the championship series to air on cable net NBC Sports, game three averaged 2.9 million viewers on Monday night. That's down from the first two match-ups in Los Angeles, which pulled in a respective 4.8 and 6.4 million viewers to NBC -- the latter being an all-time game two record.
It's the smallest haul for Stanley Cup finals since game four in 2012. NBCSN, available in roughly 85 million homes, typically brings in fewer viewers than its broadcast sibling.
Alain Vigneault spoke with the media today after practice today...
from Dave Hutchinson of the Star Ledger,
The mood was visibly gloomy as a handful of Rangers went through the paces during an optional skate Tuesday morning at Madison Square Garden, the reality of a 3-0 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final staring them in the face.
Afterwards, their half-empty locker room had the feel of a funeral. Faces were long. Voices were low.
“Excuse us if today we’re not real cheery, but tomorrow I can tell you we’re going to show up,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
While the Rangers are down, they insist they’re not out. They’ve watched the Kings rally from a 3-0 hole against San Jose and they themselves battled back from a 3-1 disadvantage against Pittsburgh.
added 3:45pm, from Katie Strang of ESPNNewYork,
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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