Kukla's Korner Hockey
Ron Duguay played for the Rangers and Kings, but he has no doubt who will win the Stanley Cup...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
On the largest stage, with the world watching, the best hockey player in the Olympic tournament was Drew Doughty.
And through three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs — if the Conn Smythe Trophy was given out today — the most deserving player in the post-season has been Doughty.
Which raises a question never really contemplated before, a matter being discussed informally as the Stanley Cup final is about to begin: Is Drew Doughty now the best player in hockey?
He has never really been in this kind of conversation before, the type normally reserved for Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, maybe a Jonathan Toews. Doughty’s not the best scorer, he hasn’t won a Norris Trophy, isn’t sure he’ll ever win one. (Which, by the way, makes him angry.) He won’t win the Hart Trophy: Crosby, who had a crummy playoffs in Pittsburgh, will claim the most valuable player award.
But the game is first and foremost about victories. It’s about making plays. It’s about being physical. It’s about seeing people others can’t see. It’s about decision making. It’s about protecting the puck. It’s about not being scored on. It’s about leadership. It’s about adapting to circumstances. It’s about reading the play and the clock.
from Harry Bruinius of the Christian Science Monitor,
Within the cacophonous rhythms of American sports, the National Hockey League has always played the wild and somewhat dangerous cousin to its richer and more polished relatives in the nation’s “big three” sports, its players known for multiple broken noses and toothless grins – a shaggy-haired lot with “oat and a boat” accents from the frozen north.
But the sport of slashing sticks and blades will have a bigger stage on Wednesday when the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings clash in the nation’s two most brightly-lit media markets, a West Coast/East Coast faceoff featuring Hollywood glitz and Broadway glamor.
But that just glides over the surface of this year’s battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The symmetry of these major-market teams is matched by a host of improbable storylines filled with unprecedented comebacks, team-galvanizing losses, and some of the fastest and toughest skaters in the world.
At first glance, the matchup appears to be one of those big-favorite-versus-heavy-underdog stories.
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
Start with his hair. Look at it. It’s not a hairstyle; it’s a goddamn symphony, every strand in concert with the others, rising and falling. Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t have to do that with his hair, right? There’s got to be an easier way, a less perfect way, but he refuses to take it.
As the 2014 Stanley Cup final opens, Lundqvist is trying to crack the last hard task. His New York Rangers are decided underdogs to the Los Angeles Kings, who have superior forwards, a superior defensive corps, a team that applies pressure until you crack, and Stanley Cup rings. The biggest reason to believe in the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist is in goal. He will have to be great, but that’s always been what he’s aiming for, anyway.
“There’s a reason why he’s the king,” says Martin Biron, now with TSN and the NHL Network, who backed up Lundqvist for parts of four seasons in New York. “He’s good-looking, he’s got it all, he’s the best goalie, he plays the guitar, gets on Jimmy Fallon show, all that, and there’s a reason: Because he prepares and works so hard for it. If he didn’t put all the time and effort into being his absolute best at every moment, he would just be very good. He wouldn’t be great.”
from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times,
The face of Hollywood's hockey revolution looks like a closed fist.
The most powerful voice of Tinseltown's growing hockey chorus is an undiscernible mumble.
The biggest name on the Southland's coolest sports powerhouse is one that many people around town still can't correctly pronounce.
It's Darryl Sutter, as in "butter," but doesn't spread quite so sweetly or easily.
The coach of the Kings is the antithesis of the glamour vibe that Los Angeles expects from its sports coaches. He doesn't flow like Doc Rivers. Nobody is calling him anything cutesy like Darryl Hockey. He would consider Pete Carroll's "Always compete" mantra as too wordy. One gets the feeling that if he were ever introduced to Zen, he would make him a healthy scratch for being too soft.
During games Sutter is that squinting, scowling guy behind the bench. After games he is that terse and sometimes surly conductor of painful televised news conferences filled with sarcastic answers, dismissive stares, and awkward silences.
from Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News,
Ahhhh, Stanley Cup media day.
It hardly lives up to its NFL counterpart of the Super Bowl. It’s far from the glitz, glamour and obnoxious behavior, but it’s a mini version of the event that’s high on endless questions, clichés, laughs and such.
It’s the game before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Kings and Rangers, with the Stanley Cup on hand as well as its keeper.
There are 1,327 credentialed media for the final, according to an NHL spokesperson, but just several hundred at Staples Center for the final tuneup before the final begins today.
Each team’s players and coaches were required to wear team polo shirts, so we couldn’t dissect Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter’s unfashionable fashion choices.
The news conference with Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi was uneventful. Sutter didn’t utter one “PARDON!” or use those contorted facial expressions that have made him so popular. How very boring.
from Chris Erskine of the LA Times,
Hockey games raise many questions for these newcomers, who are hesitant to ask their beered-up, know-it-all friends. For them, we offer Hockey 101, a master's level contemplation of a bruising and glorious sport.
Please silence your cellphones.
Question: What's the neutral zone?
The area in the middle, between the Blue Lines.
Q: What's the Blue Line?
Separates neutral zone from attacking zone. Also, the only way to get to Long Beach during rush hour.
Q: What's the Red Line?
Running through Hollywood, the Red Line is what you take if you're going to a play at the Pantages. In hockey, it's the 50-yard-line.
Q: Where's the three-point line?
The NHL has yet to adopt a three-point line. But there is a jail.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Ales Hemsky's stay with the Senators was likely short and not so sweet because he may not be back in an Ottawa uniform next season.
League sources told the Sun Tuesday talks between the Senators and Hemsky's camp have broken off and unless there is a change of heart on his part he's expected to test the UFA market on July 1.
The 30-year-old Senators winger, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers at the deadline in exchange for two draft picks, was believed to be looking for a deal in excess of $5.5 million per-season from the club.
Sources say the Senators were not prepared to make that kind of offer and there was also concerns he's determined to test the market."
Medai Day for the Los Angeles Kings is scheduled to start at 7:00pm ET today.
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The International Scouting Services released their final rankings for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft with little change at the top.
Sam Reinhart is the man the Florida Panthers will select with the first overall pick on June 27 in Philadelphia according to ISS.
Reinhart is a centre for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League and tallied 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points in 60 games last year. He picked up 23 points in just 13 games in the Ice's playoff run.
Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad is second on the list and may be on the Buffalo Sabres' radar. Ekblad had 23 goals alongside 30 assists for 53 points this past season in the Ontario Hockey League.
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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