Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Traikos at the National Post,
You need players of all shapes and sizes and salary structures to make contributions in the playoffs. As Trotz continues to say during this post-season, “we’re looking for a new hero every night.” And yet, every year, the same cliché rings true: you only go as far as your best players will take you.
In Games 1 and 2, Ovechkin was a monster in Manhattan. He terrorized the city like he was King Kong, scoring twice on goals that had even New York fans shaking their heads at in disbelief, and setting up a game-winner right before the buzzer. But since then, the Rangers defence has tamed him.
Ovechkin, who has 11 shots in the past three games, has not exactly been invisible. Far from it, actually. Every time he is on the ice, like when he uncorked a wrist shot that handcuffed Lundqvist on Friday night, there is the possibility that something special will happen, that he will change the course of the game with a get-them-out-of-their-seats goal.
“He’s been dangerous the whole series,” said Rangers centre Derek Stepan. “He’s been really good for them. His two goals in Games 1 and 2 were something that we have to try to continue to limit, because he’s going to get his looks.”
Ovechkin is getting his looks. But with no points in Games 3, 4 and 5, he is starting to mirror the performance he had two years ago against the Rangers, where he stormed out of the gates with a goal and an assist in Games 1 and 2, and then went missing in action as the Capitals were shutout in Games 6 and 7.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Boudreau, speaking on a conference call with reporters Saturday after the Ducks returned from Calgary, said he's not preoccupied with thoughts of facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the West final. First in his mind, as it should be, is subduing the Flames, who haven't gone down quietly since the Ducks' series-opening 6-1 rout.
"I try not to think about it," Boudreau said. "I know it's cliched, but I'm just trying to think about tomorrow. Because if you think about tomorrow and it goes successfully then everything else will take care of itself and you'll have enough time to think about the other thing. So I haven't put really any thought into playing Chicago at all....
"The last two games, even three games, have been so tough that the minute you start thinking about putting the cart before the horses you're in trouble. We've got a really tough opponent who will be very, very motivated [Sunday] and if we're not completely with our minds set on them, we're in trouble."
Reaching the conference final would bring him personal vindication, but Boudreau dodged that discussion.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
There’s no less desperation. There can’t be when the Rangers have their backs against the wall yet again, and will continue to be staring the offseason in the face unless they can wrangle out two more consecutive wins.
Game 6 of this second-round series against the Capitals is Sunday night at Verizon Center, and the Blueshirts still are down in the best-of-seven, 3-2. But there is less frustration boiling inside their locker room following Friday’s miraculous 2-1 overtime win in Game 5 at the Garden, when they trailed 1-0 until Chris Kreider scored with 1:41 remaining in the third period and Ryan McDonagh won it 9:37 into the extra period.
“I think the way we won, certainly isn’t ideal,” alternate captain Derek Stepan said on Saturday afternoon at the team’s D.C. hotel, having the day off practice. “We just have to continue to find ways to score goals and continue to find ways to create offense.”
That has been the theme of this series: The Capitals have thwarted the Rangers’ potent offense, third-best in the league during the regular season, limiting them to seven goals through the first five games. Part of that has been the outstanding play of Washington goalie Braden Holtby, as well as the Capitals’ defensemen crowding shooting lanes and blocking shots by the bushel.
The Rangers struggled to cope with all of their terrific scoring opportunities going for naught. It’s not as if they had played bad hockey in going down 3-1, but they were not being rewarded, creating a built-up frustration.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Neil Abbott gets a good laugh when a coach calls his timeout down by one goal with little time left. The coach huddles his players and scribbles madly on his whiteboard to diagram what he believes will be the game-tying play.
“Then they lose the draw and it’s up in smoke,” said the longtime Boston agent. “So why don’t they do something different?”
Abbott has a proposal for late-game situations. For example, Team A is trailing Team B by a 2-1 score with two minutes remaining in regulation. Team A’s coach would call his timeout. After the timeout, Team A would gain automatic possession of the puck inside the circle at the red line in front of the penalty boxes.
There would be no faceoff. Team A would start with the puck. Team A’s coach could spend the entire timeout mapping out an offensive play instead of reminding his players what to do if they lost the faceoff.
continued plus a diagram of the suggested change...
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Lightning skated off the ice, heads down, dejected, eyes to the ground. The Bell Centre crowd, going insane, left the Lightning's ears ringing and its heads splitting.
As the Lightning stepped off the white sheet and down the tunnel toward the locker room, it surely had one thought in its mind: No way we want to come back here again.
That means the Lightning's hopes of moving on to the next round, its dream of a Stanley Cup and, more critically, everything it has accomplished this season will be on the line in Game 6 Tuesday night at Amalie Arena.
That is the Lightning's game of the year after Saturday night's 2-1 loss in Game 5 — a loss that really wasn't all that surprising but was nonetheless heartbreaking. Montreal scored with only 4:07 left to snap a 1-1 tie and send this series back to Tampa Bay.
A comfy 3-0 series lead has dwindled to a 3-2 pressure cooker.
"We put ourselves in this position," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We definitely want to finish it off."
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
A Montreal Canadiens executive walking out of the Bell Centre well after the game ended Saturday night observed that the rink was as loud as it had been in a long time.
Imagine what it would sound like for a Game 7?
The Tampa Bay Lightning have no intention of finding out. But what they do know is that the Habs aren’t going away quietly, Saturday’s 2-1 win by the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge suddenly making this a very interesting series.
“I said it in Game 3 before the game, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but I said it’s easy to tell the guys that want to keep playing and you can tell by the effort and sacrifice that guys are making on the ice," said Habs star blue-liner P.K. Subban, who had his best game of the series. "Right now, as part of the leadership group, there’s not one guy who isn’t carrying his weight or looks like he doesn’t want to play. Everybody is on board and energetic and it has been that way for the most of the of series."
To all of the mothers who visit KK, I wish you the best day of the year.
Too many times your work goes unnoticed but many of you are responsible for great things, little things and for holding your family together.
Wishing all a great day and one of happiness.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- An NHL executive claims Dion Phaneuf wants out “of that nut house in Toronto.” For the record, Phaneuf has never said anything publicly about wanting out of any nut house.
- Almost every night of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I start watching a game and end up watching the Blue Jays or an NBA game. This hockey playoff season is not grabbing me this year the way it has in the past.
- The on-again, off-again Seattle arena project seems to be off again. The minute there’s an arena in Seattle there will be an NHL team there. Even though the locals are more interested in the NBA than the NHL.
more hockey notes, including of course, Babcock talk...
Video highlights of the win by Montreal last night over Tampa Bay. The Lightning still lead the series 3-2 and game 6 will be played in Tampa on Tuesday.
Elliotte Friedman and Damien Cox of Sportsnet net discussed a few topics including teams trying the interview Jeff Gorton, the assistant GM of the New York Rangers, but to this point they have been denied.
Also Babcock talk and a few more topics...
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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