Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,
In three games following the multiple-overtime games in this year’s playoffs coming into Game 5 of the conference final, Hossa has no points and a minus-2 differential. In the 11 other playoff games, he has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) and a plus-6 differential.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has been cognizant of managing Hossa’s time on the ice in recent seasons. Hossa was given several “veteran’s-practice-off” days during last year’s playoffs. And it was working magnificently — Hossa scored nine points (one goal, eight assists) and was a plus-7 in six games against the Wild in the second round of the playoffs.
But eventually, Hossa wore down at the end of the conference final against the Kings. In the final six games, Hossa scored one point (an assist) and was a minus-5. After the 5-4 double-overtime victory in Game 5, Hossa had the lowest Corsi percentage (29.0) of the season in Game 6. He wasn’t all that much better (41.1) in Game 7.
Hossa as much as any Hawk gives it all he’s got. You can see the determination in his game. But the reality is that after 17 seasons in the NHL, he is challenged more than most to maintain his level of impact as the minutes pile up. In nine games after playing 20 or more minutes in the last two postseasons, Hossa has one point (a goal) and is a minus-8; in the other 24 games, he has 23 points (three goals, 20 assists) and is a plus-12.
from Scott Powers of ESPN,
The Ducks entered the series with the game plan of being physical on the Blackhawks and especially taking it to their top-4 defensemen -- Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has become even more reliant on those four defensemen after Michal Rozsival suffered a season-ending injury in the second round.
The Ducks have followed through with that plan and put 99 hits or 45 percent of the hits on the Blackhawks’ top-4 defensemen. Hjalmarsson has absorbed a series-high 32 hits and is followed by Oduya at 29, Seabrook at 24 and Keith at 14.
Seabrook acknowledged Sunday what the Ducks were doing.
“They're coming hard, they're being physical, got a fast team,” Seabrook said. “But we got a pretty good group back there. Our forwards are doing a good job at helping us out, making it a little easier for us coming back, and limiting odd-man rushes, coming back and presenting themselves so we can get the puck out of the zone quick, not take as many hits.”
As for whether he can feel the hits affecting him?
“You know, I feel fine,” Seabrook said.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also thought it was a non-issue.
from Chris Nichol's of Today's Slapshot,
Elliotte Friedman was on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960 on Monday morning.
On what he expects with the San Jose Sharks in terms of their coaching situation, and how Dan Bylsma has been making the rounds:
“Honestly – that’s a great way to phrase the question – I honestly don’t know. I was told he was going to interview about 20 guys and I think he’s taking a good run at that.
“I believe he’s interviewed Bylsma. Somebody told me he hasn’t, but I believe he will or has. I know he’s interviewed Peter DeBoer. He’s interviewed Dave Lowry. I heard he did a phone interview with Rob Zettler, but he’s probably not the candidate. Another name I heard they’ve been talking to out there is Dave Quinn, who’s the coach of Boston University. Adam Oates was out there last week.
“I think it’s still possible that he may interview some guys who are still alive in the playoffs, like Trent Yawney in Anaheim. I also wonder about a couple of guys – Kevin Dineen in Chicago and Scott Arniel in New York. These are guys who are legit candidates and I wonder if anybody is going to wait to speak to them after their teams have been knocked out.
BISHOP, STAMKOS LEAD LIGHTING TO 3-2 SERIES LEAD
Ben Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced and the Lightning scored twice in the second period backed by 1-1—2 from captain Steven Stamkos to take a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.
* The Lightning, who have now won five of their last six visits to Madison Square Garden (regular season and playoffs) dating to Jan. 14, 2014 (2-1 W), sit one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history. The club’s previous appearance was in 2004, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Almost three minutes of slow motion action from the past week of the NHL Playoffs...
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
Here’s how close the Ducks and Blackhawks are right now:
Late Saturday night, they gushed about their successful third-period comeback, they clung to the faith exhibited in their utter refusal to surrender and they preached absolute certainty that the results of Game 4 would help them in their pursuit of Game 5.
And that was both teams, the sounds of acquired and renewed coming in stereo, the statements in the respective United Center locker rooms almost identical until reaching the punctuation marks. The Blackhawks were smiling, the Ducks not exactly.
But even then there was a notable similarity. This is hockey, so neither team was showing a lot of teeth.
Tied in games at 2-2, this matchup has been so even that the differences can be measured best microscopically. And why not, given the levels of DNA these players have dripped onto the ice so far?
“I think this series has been played very tight,” explained Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who doesn’t always say things that are as obvious as the former Sears Tower is tall. “Can’t be any more even than what I saw in four games.”
via Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
It’s taken a while but if hockey fans aren’t fully engaged in the conference finals by now, the NHL has a problem. To date, the final four has offered just about everything on a fans’ wish list: evenly matched but contrasting teams, constantly changing storylines and star power. And it’s all made for compelling hockey.
The Blackhawks’ 5-4 Game 4 win over Anaheim, for example, offered more plot twists than a season of Game of Thrones with the Hawks a) coughing up a two-goal lead in the third period by surrendering three goals in 37 seconds before b) they tied the game late and c) Antoine Vermette, who had been a healthy scratch the game before, potted the game-winner in double overtime.
You’d think the Ducks’ inability to close this one out will mark a turning point in the series but, really, who knows what’s coming next. It’s the same story in the East where the Rangers and Lightning are producing their own drama, and that should make for appointment viewing.
The issue, of course, is that the momentum of the NHL’s post-season tends to peter out after the opening round. The final four occupies the fans of the teams involved but, even in Canada, there’s the sense a larger audience tunes them out.
It’s also the opposite story in the NBA where interest intensifies the deeper the playoffs run. That league is now looking at a final with LeBron James and Steph Curry at the top of the marquee and an endlessly attractive matchup between Cleveland and Golden State.
The NHL? You just hope the teams will continue to provide great entertainment because the game needs it.
via Scott Lewis of Sportsnet,
Don Cherry believes Babcock will make the Maple Leafs a better team sooner than later. Cherry shared some of his thoughts on how Babcock will impact the club in his first season during Sunday’s edition of “Coach’s Corner,” with an emphasis on Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and sniper Phil Kessel.
The Leafs talk is near the end of the video...
Remember and honor.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"Stammer and Fil, and Killorn, to be honest, I think they've elevated their game to as high a level as you can play," Cooper said after his team’s 2-0 win Sunday night, giving the Lightning a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 6 is Tuesday in Tampa.
"The one thing with Stammer, you look at his seven goals, he's not getting the sixth goal in a 6-2 game,” Cooper said. "He's getting the go-ahead goal or the one that you build off. It was only a matter of time. You can't keep him down forever."
Stamkos, well, looks like Stamkos again.
"I'm definitely more confident now than I was the first eight games, no question," Stamkos said after putting up a goal and an assist in Sunday night’s huge victory. "But I think for me it was a great adversity test.
"Our team was winning, which was great. The depth has prevailed all season for our team. But I knew I was playing the right way. When you play the right way, things are going to start going your way. We switched some things up, moved to the wing, tried to free some things up. The power play has gotten a lot better too, where you get a couple goals, you get a couple points there, now you're feeling a little better. So everything has kind of accumulated to this point right now. But when you have confidence, you try to keep it as long as you can, because it is tough to get at this time of the year."
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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