Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Uniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews has always been Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville’s trump card. He holds that move until late in the hand — late in a period, late in a game, late in a series — and plays it only when necessary.
It’s Game 5, and tonight Kane and Toews will start the evening together. That’s where the heads of defending Stanley Cup champs are — in desperation mode, trailing the St. Louis Blues 3-1 in this Central Division series.
“We feel making it more balanced in the lines, offensively as well as defensively (will help). Try a different look,” Quenneville explained. “Our power play has been decent. The quantity and quality of opportunities has been more than we budgeted. It’s been the finish.”
from Dimitri Filipovic of Sportsnet,
While every long-term deal carries a certain amount of risk, Kucherov checks all of the boxes you’d like to see from a player you’re betting on. His rate stats the past two seasons are a good indicator that he’s ready for a larger workload. Just 23 years old in June, he’s on a collision course with his prime as a scorer. He’s only going to get more productive in the coming seasons.
There’s a legitimate possibility the Lightning will see one of the league’s most lethal goal scorers walk this summer as a free agent. There’s no question that would be a tough pill to swallow for a team that figures to be chasing Stanley Cups for at least a few years to come.
As strange as it may seem, I don’t think it’s particularly outlandish to suggest Tampa will be fine without Stamkos. In fact, there’s a completely reasonable argument that the money needed to keep Stamkos would be better spent on other openings in the lineup.
Tampa Bay will definitely need to make a long-term commitment to a high-end goal scorer this summer. It’s just not the one you might expect.
An open memorial to Ed Snider, A Flyer Forever, is scheduled to begin at 1:00pm ET today.
You can watch below via CSNPhilly (autoplay)...
from Adam Proteau of the Leafs' website,
MapleLeafs.com: You’ve been in Toronto for almost a year now. What have you learned about the market that you may not have known before?
Lou Lamoriello: Well, I don't know if it's what I didn't know about it, it was more reaffirming what I thought it was all about: the passion of the fans for the Maple Leafs, and the amount of people who are aware of the sport. I always thought there was a lot, but it's like everywhere, and anyone. And also, the coverage is what I expected, which is similar to Stanley Cup coverage.
MapleLeafs.com: When you look back at the 2015-16 season, the general consensus in the press box was that, whether it was affected by injuries, trades or other roster movements, you really didn't see any change in effort from the team from game-to-game. Is that a credit to the work we saw from Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe?
Lou Lamoriello: Without question. Right from the first day of training camp, Mike established what would be happening, Sheldon spent plenty of time with Mike at that time, he was very open with all coaches (in the organization). And the culture was set with what was going to happen on that ice. The players followed, bought into it, and consistently did that throughout the year.
There was never a question for me that that would happen. And what it allowed us to do certainly was to see how many embraced it, and how many improved on it, because the word is accountability: their accountability to what's asked, their accountability to themselves, and certainly, to the organization.
4 1/2 minutes in length.
Throat-slash gestures are taken very seriously by the NHL, which last month levied maximum fines against Toronto’s Nazem Kadri and Anaheim’s Josh Manson for their unsavory pantomimes that inflicted no damage on anyone.
But actual throat slashes with a hockey stick that injure an opponent? Well, that’s a horse of a different color?
Or should we say, Penguin?
-Larry Brooks of the New York Post where you can read more on this topic.
from Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
For all the trophies, accolades and nominations for sainthood collected by Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, they have disappeared, in part because Artem Anisimov is on holiday and also because the first line has vanished.
The Blues can focus on the second line and it has been smothered. Rinks get very small in the postseason and players unwilling to fight through checks are not going to find open space or many good scoring chances.
The Blues are playing conservative, waiting for the Hawks to make mistakes and Vlad Tarasenko is making them pay, so the Hawks need a reboot.
Relax, play smart, try to win a game 1-0 and go from there.
But it really comes down to a very simple question: Do they really want to play more hockey this season?
The Hawks will answer that question in Game 5.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
The Islanders had a chance to seize control of this series. Instead, they seized up.
Light-scoring Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic beat Thomas Greiss with 10:35 to play to give Florida a 2-1 win Wednesday night and even the first-round series at 2, with Game 5 Friday night in Sunrise.
It didn’t feel like a one-goal game. The Islanders came out disjointed in a game that could have given them a 3-1 series lead. They put only five first-period shots on Roberto Luongo, allowing the Panthers to dictate the pace.
Even after Petrovic’s goal the Islanders were stymied, despite a power play with 3:33 to go. They pulled Greiss with just over a minute to play but could not beat Luongo, who made 26 saves.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Kyle Okposo said after the Islanders failed to win back-to-back playoff games for the 12th consecutive chance over the last 14 seasons.
Game highlights are below...
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
You could say the view up the mountain isn't quite as dire for the Kings as it was two years ago.
Degree of dire.
That might be nitpicking
The Kings are facing another massive deficit after the San Jose Sharks beat them, 3-2, on Wednesday night at SAP Center in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. San Jose leads the best-of-seven series, three games to one.
Next up for the Kings: An elimination game on their home ice at Staples Center on Friday night. The Kings staged a comeback for the ages in 2014 against the Sharks after losing the first three games in the first round.
Game highlights can be watchec below...
from John Smallwood of hte Philadelphia Daily News,
Much of the hole they had dug for themselves had nothing to do with Steve Mason. When a team has been outscored 12-2, it's because nobody has played well.
Changing a goalie, however, is the most visible way to bring home the gravity of a situation - so Michal Neuvirth got the call in net for the Flyers.
"I think it's a good time for a change for our team going into this game," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when announcing the switch after the morning skate on Wednesday. "I believe Nuevy is the guy who can go in for us in this situation and do a great job."
We'll never know how much of that Hakstol truly believed and how much was simply, what else was he supposed to say?
Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because Neuvirth was up to the task.
Starting for only the second time since his March 16 victory, Neuvirth made 31 saves as the Flyers staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
It was Neuvirth's first playoff victory since April 23, 2011.
Watch the game highlights below...
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