Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Once the Blackhawks wondered. Now they know.
They know that they are good enough to parade the Stanley Cup around the ice at United Center on Monday night. They know that if they miss this opportunity they might never get it back.
This is a great team — the golden era for an 89-year-old organization — but it is also a team in transition. They battled through malaise in the regular season, seeing 11 teams win more regulation and overtime games, and defied death in the Western Conference final.
Now they’ve taken control of a coin-flip Stanley Cup Final and don’t want to cede it back to the Tampa Bay Lightning. If they win the next game, they’ll lift the 35-pound silver trophy on home ice for the first time since 1938.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Steven Stamkos says he can barely remember when the playoffs began some 62 days ago, never mind the start of the regular season.
But the Tampa Bay Lightning captain is well aware of what remains on the NHL schedule and he’s determined to take it to completion.
“There’s no excuses for our group, we’re here,” Stamkos said late Sunday afternoon after his team breezed into the Windy City focused on extending the Stanley Cup final to a seventh game.
“There’s two games scheduled left in the season. We can be apart of that. That’s the mentality we have.”
If they feel like a boxer on the ropes trailing the best-of-seven final 3-2 and heading into what will be one of the more electric buildings in NHL history with the Blackhawks a win away from the Cup, the Lightning aren’t showing it.
But they are not without worry, given that they have scored just two goals in the last two games, may be without their second leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov, and have seen the early playoff magic of unheralded Tyler Johnson start to fade.
So, naturally, the attention shifts to Stamkos, the team leader and a former 60-goal scorer who has yet to beat Chicago netminder Corey Crawford in this series.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Walk through the main floor of Jill and Stan Mikita's home in the western suburbs and you will see very little evidence that the man who owns it was one of the greatest players the sport of hockey ever has known.
Other than a portrait of the Blackhawks legend and an autographed photo of Mikita and lifelong friend Bobby Hull on the family room wall, there are few mementos indicating that it is the home of someone whose statue stands outside the United Center.
"Stan always said he didn't need things on the wall or plaques on the shelves because he had his memories," Jill Mikita says.
Now, those memories are gone.
Stan Mikita has been diagnosed with suspected dementia with Lewy body, a brain disorder that can strip those with it of memory, cause hallucinations, sleep disorders and often, though not in Mikita's case, Parkinson's disease. His decline has been steep and sudden....
"His mind is completely gone," Jill, Stan's wife of 52 years, says while sitting on the sun porch as one of her grandsons fishes in the pond out back. "I don't like to use that term but there's no other way to describe it."
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The Blackhawks have seen enough of Tampa.
They have no interest in returning to the humidity, the electric lightshow inside Amalie Arena, and the horde of characters — Stars Wars stormtroopers, Game of Thrones barbarians, anime creatures — flowing through the Tampa Convention Center two blocks from the rink. It is hard to tell which group looks more peculiar: the costumed crowd at Metrocon, Tampa’s anime convention, or the bearded bunch of tired and angry men doing battle on the ice.
On Monday, the Blackhawks would be quite happy to share the Stanley Cup with their fans at the United Center. It would be their third Cup in six years and first on home ice. The Lightning, meanwhile, want no part of participating in the crowning of a dynasty.
“It’s not just another game, but that’s the way we’ve got to try to approach it,” said Brent Seabrook, one of Chicago’s core players. “It’s a huge game.”
With one more win, whether it’s on Monday or in Game 7 Wednesday, the Blackhawks will claim the title of the best team in the post-2005 lockout era. They’ve advanced to this point by being the organization of the future — fast, skilled, deep, and overwhelming.
They control the game. They do not chase it.
By Mike Shackil,
Coinciding with the current Stanley Cup Finals that is happening between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, IfOnly is auctioning an experience to attend a morning skate or off-day practice at the Stanley Cup with ESPN’s Steve Levy and Barry Melrose.
This will give the auction winners unprecedented access to the largest event in hockey with two of the best and most well-known media personalities in all of hockey. Along with four passes for the skate and behind-the-scenes passes to watch tapings for ESPN’s Stanley Cup coverage, the four winners will enjoy lunch with the two broadcasters. This experience is benefiting The Charlotte and Gwyneth Gray Foundation, which was created to raise money and awareness towards Batten Disease, a genetically-inherited disorder of the nervous system that has affected Gordon and Kristen Gray’s daughters.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The league’s most productive line of Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Kucherov, a powerhouse trio that has carried this Lightning team at times during the postseason, is limping to the finish line. The attrition of playoff hockey is chipping away at three players who looked invincible at times during their incredible spring run.
Johnson leads the Stanley Cup playoffs with 23 points. Kucherov is second at 22, one more than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Palat’s well-rounded, 200-foot game that has shades of Marian Hossa has been the perfect compliment to those two.
Now, one loss from watching the Blackhawks raise the Stanley Cup, the Lightning might have to try rallying without their best line in tact. Kucherov played 1:17 before the collision with the post. That was all he’d play.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper anticipated a return from Kucherov that never came. Cooper said his talented Russian winger was to be evaluated after the game or sometime Sunday.
Cooper had no update on Kucherov's status.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- A couple of GMs indicated Cam Talbot is probably the top choice among cap-friendly, potential No. 1 options. Another suggested Lack second and Robin Lehner third.
- Hearing Detroit is looking for a defenceman who can take some of the physical responsibility from Niklas Kronwall. While the Red Wings like their prospects, they see too many similarities to what is already there. Wanted: someone with a bit of mean.
- Ask teams who is most aggressive right now, and Calgary leads the voting. One year ago, the Flames were willing to take on salary, but it’s slightly different this time. They are telling clubs they will do nothing that jeopardizes their ability to re-sign Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan. They have plenty of speed and skill, and apparently are looking for some power that can play alongside those players. Like O’Reilly, Jiri Hudler is one year from unrestricted free agency. But, after a season where he led the NHL with 60 even-strength points, they will only trade him if the offer makes it worthwhile to do so.
Home Team in Caps
Chicago 2, TAMPA BAY 1 – CHI leads series 3-2
BLACKHAWKS EDGE LIGHTNING TO MOVE WITHIN ONE WIN OF STANLEY CUP
Antoine Vermette scored the tiebreaking goal at 2:00 of the third period and Corey Crawford made 31 saves, including 15 in the final frame, to lift the Blackhawks within one victory of their third Stanley Cup in the past six years (and sixth in franchise history).
* The Blackhawks improved to 42-14 in Games 4-7 since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including an 8-2 record this year. Since 2012, they have won 18 of 22 contests in Games 5-7 (8-2 on the road).
from Darren Rovell of ESPN,
Less than an hour after the Blackhawks won Game 5 over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa on Saturday night, the resale price on StubHub for a standing room only seat in Chicago for Monday night's Game 6 was north of $1,000.
Those numbers have held through Sunday. As of 9 a.m. ET on Sunday, the cheapest ticket that comes with a seat for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals was $1,979.
Standing room only seats have a face value of $140. Upper goal section seats, that have a single-game face value of $285, are listed on StubHub for $2,445 each. Club level center tickets that have a face value of $650 are listed for $4,816 each, and the cheapest tickets right up against the glass, with a face value of $1,200, are listed at more than $10,000 apiece.
from Eric Engels of Sportsnet,
Montreal has $65.3 million invested in 19 players for next season and $28.7 million of that is going towards their seven defencemen: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Tom Gilbert, Alexei Emelin, Greg Pateryn, Petry and Beaulieu. Assuming the salary cap is set at $71 million for 2015-16, the Beaulieu signing leaves Bergevin with just $5.25 million to sign restricted free agents Brian Flynn, Alex Galchenyuk, Jarred Tinordi, Christian Thomas, Michael Bournival, and unrestricted free agent Torrey Mitchell.
That’s not enough money to go around, let alone leave a cushion for maneuverability. And considering the Canadiens have been in the NHL’s bottom third in offence over the past two seasons, it would only make sense for them to deal from their strongest position to address their weakness.
Gilbert, who’s in the final year of a contract that will pay him $2.8 million, and Emelin, who’s signed for another three seasons at $4.1 million annually are the most likely candidates to be shopped by Bergevin.
Of course, given his stated philosophy, Bergevin may prefer to have as much defensive depth as he can get. If he’d rather keep the blueline he has, the Canadiens could instead decide to move a signed forward or two off the roster.
Tomas Plekanec has one more season on his contract, which comes with a $5 million cap hit, and after a 60-point season as Montreal’s most reliable defensive forward, he’s the type of player a competitive team would offer picks and prospects to acquire.
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.
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