Kukla's Korner Hockey
KINGS, RANGERS FACE OFF IN GAME 2 OF STANLEY CUP FINAL
The Kings and Rangers face off in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at STAPLES Center, following a 3-2 overtime victory by Los Angeles in the series opener. The Kings are 15-5 in their last 20 home playoff games (dating to June 11, 2012), including wins in four of their past five. The Rangers, meanwhile, have six wins as visitors this postseason, second only to Los Angeles (7). During the regular season, New York led the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the NHL with 25 road victories (25-14-2).
* Teams winning Game 2 have gone on to hoist the Stanley Cup 74.3% of the time since the Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939 (55-of-74 series), including eight of the past 11 occasions.
* Forty-eight teams have taken a 2-0 series lead since the Stanley Cup Final went to the best-of-seven format in 1939. Of those clubs, 43 (89.9%) have gone on to claim the Stanley Cup, including the 2012 Kings in the most recent such occurrence.
Today at 3:00 p.m. PST Bret Hedican will be participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA).
If you're around be sure to check out the Reddit AMA with Bret Hedican.
(Darryl) Sutter might often come across as a modern Eddie Shore. But he’s thoughtful, well-organized and prepared. He took a franchise that had never won and won, confounding his critics.
-Damien Cox of the Toronto Star where you can read more on Darryl Sutter.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
They have, like their coach, grown into themselves, unflappable in tandem, exposing a new side of the Kings. There was Quick, appearing on The Ellen Show last month, smiling just a few weeks ago, seeming so un-Quick-like; And yesterday, when a television reporter asked him to answer the questions pretending it was after Game 2 — because that’s when he needed the piece to run — Quick played along.
Two years ago, on his way to the Conn Smythe, he rarely tossed up an answer of relevance. Interviewing him was a process that involved discomfort. “See,” Quick said Friday, smiling. “I can be coached.” He can play along.
“He’s grown up,” said Justin Williams, the Mr. Clutch of the Kings. “A lot of guys around here have grown up.”
If only talent won hockey games, the Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn’t have hired a general manager and fired a coach Friday. If talent won hockey games, Cliff Fletcher’s Calgary Flames team would have won more than one Cup and Eric Lindros would have a ring from Philadelphia. If talent won everything, somewhere in time the San Jose Sharks would have had a parade.
This Kings team is complete. It isn’t just talent but a thesis exercise on the model franchise. It has a high-end general manager in Lombardi, who established a culture here and patiently attained it and never veered from it. It has Sutter, who has developed into a coach for the ages.
from Steve Silverman of CBS New York,
Everyone would like to see Nash take his 6-foot-4, 215-pound body and station himself in front of the net and cause havoc for the Kings’ defense and goalie Jonathan Quick. That is not going to happen. Nash may be big and have excellent skating skills, but he does not play a big man’s game. He avoids the punishment that power forwards have to take in order to be effective.
He is not going to score the kind of clutch goal that Williams scored for the Kings on Wednesday night. Nash likes to float around the offensive zone and attack with quickness – not power and strength.
However, Stepan and Kreider don’t have to play the same kind of game. If the Rangers are going to assert themselves, they need these two to win the puck battles that their linemate tends to avoid.
Stepan and Kreider also like to use their quickness advantage to make things happen, but that’s not going to be enough when the Rangers line up against the Kings.
The only team that is similar to the Kings in the Eastern Conference is the Boston Bruins, and that battle did not go well for the Rangers during last year’s playoffs or this year’s three regular season games.
But the battle has to be joined, and the Rangers now know that speed alone won’t earn them four victories in the Stanley Cup Final. It might get them one win and Lundqvist is good enough to steal them two more.
At some point in this series, the Rangers are going to have to beat the Kings at their own game at least once. They are going to have to roll up their sleeves and go to work. They will have to outmuscle the bigger and stronger team.
from Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Guerin, 43, and Fitzgerald, 45 will be there, too, Rutherford made clear: “I will give them big roles, a lot to say.”
Honestly, it's hard not to be excited about this part in particular. All three, I can attest, are hungry. All are deeply invested in the franchise. And all you'd need to see to believe that was Guerin on Friday, all suit-and-tied, smiling ear to ear, shaking hands like he'd won the Powerball. It was pure joy, the kind that's been missing with this franchise for too long. When he beamed, “We're all going to work together to get back to our winning ways,” you could almost see him pulling on that No. 13 sweater.
It'll be fun watching this group, kind of a Generation X front office, choose a head coach in its image, oversee a draft, decide on Matt Niskanen and Kris Letang, swing trades and whatever else.
Some think this is about Rutherford. It isn't. He's a steward. A “mentor,” as he labeled himself. He's here to steer the ship through a critical time while also setting it on the next course.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Firing Ray Shero as Penguins general manager was one thing. You can make a strong argument the team is old, soft and top-heavy and that it badly underachieved in the playoffs the past five seasons, losing to lower seeds. That was the position taken by Penguins president David Morehouse three weeks ago when he announced Shero was out to the surprise of many in the hockey world who thought Shero deserved better. But hiring Jim Rutherford as the new general manager Friday? Rutherford was pushed aside in Carolina after the Hurricanes failed to make the postseason in each of the past five seasons. He is 65, deep into the back nine of his long NHL career. This is the Penguins’ idea of a step up? Conducting what Morehouse called a “thorough” search involving 30 applicants and 22 interviewees and settling for a discard from one of the league’s worst hockey clubs? It makes no sense.
Keeping Shero would have been better.
In a story from Larry Brooks regarding the New York Rangers need more from their centers in the Stanley Cup Final, he looks into the future with this...
Paul Stastny is the best of the lot coming up on free agency, but will be extremely pricey and may not be a New York kind of guy. If Richards does indeed become a victim of the cap-recapture, it would not be a surprise to see the Rangers inquire about San Jose center Joe Thornton, who has three years coming up on an extension at $6.75 million per.
Thornton has a no-move clause in his deal but the big center might be willing to waive it in order to join his close friend Rick Nash, with whom he has combined for Team Canada in several international tournaments. That would give the Rangers an unquestioned No. 1 pivot.
now, back to the Stanley Cup Final talk from Brooks...
from Stan Fischler of The Fischler Report,
* The Rutherford Trick will be finding a sage coach to turn Sidney Crosby into full team players not a duchy within the Kingdom of Penguins.
* My choices are (alphabetically) 1. Mike Keenan; 2. Tom Renney; 3. Ron Wilson.
* Something tells me that someone high up in Bettman, Inc. has told Darryl Sutter to cut his imitations of the Sphinx and return to humanity.
* Has anyone got around to figure that the Kings uniforms are downright intimidating; not that there's anything wrong with that.
Players on both sides were mic'd up for the series...
from John Agar of Mlive,
A federal judge has upheld a Swiss court’s $1.1 million judgment against former Detroit Red Wing Kevin Miller whose hit from behind in a Switzerland league ended the career of another player.
Miller, who played for the Red Wings and several other NHL teams, along with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Michigan State University, injured Andrew McKim, a Canadian, during a 2000 championship game.
Miller checked McKim in the head and neck after McKim took a shot on goal. McKim fell forward and struck his head on the ice. He was hospitalized several weeks with a concussion and other injuries.
Allianz Suisse Versicherungs-Gesellschaft, a Swiss insurance company that covered McKim, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to enforce the judgment it obtained in Switzerland in 2010.
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