Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
And in Toronto, former Ducks forward Smith-Pelly tweeted just this:
It was then that the ground opened up and the fires of hockey hell licked at his feet.
By 11 a.m. on Sunday, Smith-Pelly’s wordless, two-keystroke tweet had generated nearly 1,500 retweets and been favourited almost 1,900 times.
His Twitter mentions from Ducks fans, that is, comments tagged to the tweet, referenced his body size, many times; the couch on which he was watching the playoffs; his NHL future; and much, much worse.
“The worst one?” Smith-Pelly said with a laugh, repeating the question 12 hours after the skies had opened. “That I was too bad to be on a (crappy) team, that the Canadiens had lost in the second round. It was hilarious. I thought it was great.”
There’s some history here, of course.
Smith-Pelly, 22, was traded to the Canadiens in late February for forward Jiri Sekac; it was the Ducks who brought Smith-Pelly into the NHL in the second round of the 2010 entry draft, 42nd overall.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- When Martin St. Louis asked to be moved, he made it clear the Rangers were the only team he wanted to go to. I’ve written before about The Blueprint, a book about the New England Patriots that Detroit GM Ken Holland advised me to read, and there are passages about how dangerous it is to be sentimental in a cap system. New York is tight, with restricted free agents Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, JT Miller and Derek Stepan. I never thought I’d be asking this question, but, even at a reduced rate for St. Louis, can they do it? And if they don’t, would New Jersey take a run at him? Close to Manhattan, the Devils will need short-term veterans to bridge the gap, and he could be a good trade-deadline piece for extra picks or prospects.
- There were reports Saturday that Phil Housley was in the lead for the Devils’ coaching job (I’d heard a similar rumour, although not as strongly worded), but that came with some pretty strong denials. It’s always difficult to predict what New Jersey will do, but it does appear as if something is coming within the next day or so. I do believe AHL Wilkes-Barre coach John Hynes is a finalist, but a couple of sources indicate there is at least one other person in the mix.
- A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Colorado would be looking for a defenceman to play with Erik Johnson. It’s well-documented Columbus is also looking. You can add San Jose, too. Doug Wilson despises July 1, but the Sharks need a goalie and at least one defenceman. Does he dip in, or stick to taking a big cut in the trade market?
- Can’t confirm, but it doesn’t sound like the Devan Dubnyk contract talks began last week, as we’d believed. Nothing to worry about, just a matter of aligning schedules. One GM who is looking for a goalie wasn’t counting on Dubnyk getting to free-agency.
Home Team in Caps
Chicago 5, ANAHEIM 3 – CHI wins series 4-3
TOEWS (AGAIN) LEADS BLACKHAWKS INTO STANLEY CUP FINAL
The Blackhawks raced to a 4-0 lead midway through the second period – sparked by a pair of goals from Jonathan Toews in the opening 11:55 – and held off a late Ducks surge to win Game 7 and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
* The Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the 13th time in franchise history and third time in the past six seasons (also 2010 and 2013).
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
One of the knocks on former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli was that he overpaid for too many of his players.
But what’s the first order of personnel business for successor Don Sweeney? Well, it just might be to overpay someone.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights. He can field offer sheets, however. Those, of course, are a rarity in the NHL. But in an informal survey of a handful of hockey insiders last week — ones with no direct connection to the situation — opinions were mixed as to whether Hamilton would receive an offer sheet. Noting how few and far between offer sheets have been, two of the people we polled believed that history would hold and no GM would stick his neck out and make a blood enemy of a rival team. But others believed that, considering the very thin UFA market for defensemen (see: Mike Green and Cody Franson), the 21-year-old Hamilton could very well garner an offer. Brent Seabrook, should the cash-strapped Blackhawks decide to move him, would be the best get of the summer. But after him, it would be Hamilton.
Whether or not an offer sheet materializes, the threat is very real. That could be enough to make the Bruins pay more than they’d like and more than the player deserves despite being up against the cap.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
It is hard to single out the one reputation that will take the most unmerciful beating after the Anaheim Ducks’ 5-3 capitulation to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference final Saturday night at Honda Center.
Will it be that of coach Bruce Boudreau, who now bears the unenviable distinction of having coached the only two teams in NHL history to lose home Game 7s in three straight postseasons --- and whose troops once again fell apart so inexplicably, so abysmally?
Will it be Ryan Getzlaf’s? The Ducks’ captain manfully took the blame for a lousy Game 6 … then was on the ice for the first three Chicago goals Saturday, losing Jonathan Toews on the first and a battle to Johnny Oduya on the third.
Or will it be that of the Orange County market itself, embodied by those lukewarm Ducks fans who weren’t passionate enough to snap up tickets to Game 7 of what had been an epic series, with a berth in the Stanley Cup on the line?
The first two, quite reasonably, will wear the responsibility for the loss. The Ducks had no answer for Toews.
from Mark Whicker of the LA Daily News,
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
It’s as difficult as one, two, three.
Three Game 7 losses.
Three Game 7 losses at home.
Three Game 7 losses at home in succession.
For the third time in three years, the Ducks’ postseason ended in front of their own fans, as Honda Center emptied of bodies just in time to fill with another wave of lingering, biting disappointment.
“You know, we took another step this year, going a round farther,” said captain Ryan Getzlaf, after the Ducks’ 5-3 loss to Chicago in the Western Conference finals. “But, ultimately, with Game 7, we gotta be able to finish.”
Now 0 for 3 in these challenges, this core group of Ducks has turned Game 7 into a don’t-and-die. They have no choice now but to wear that distinction as proudly as they’d wear a tattoo with a typo.
They just had a chance to change their dreadful recent history but instead fell behind before the game was 21/2 minutes old, trailed as badly as 4-0 and watched the Blackhawks continue to improve while they stood still.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Oh, there are pretenders and challengers to the throne, and strategists and theorists forever concocting plans about how to get to that coveted spot at hockey's Olympus.
And then there are the Chicago Blackhawks.
And they stand alone.
With all due respect to the Los Angeles Kings, winners of two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 but who didn't even qualify for the playoffs this spring, and with all due respect to the rest of the crowd that nips at their skates, the Blackhawks continue to prove they are the standard-bearers not just for greatness, but for sustained greatness.
You can call it this era's version of a dynasty, but year in and year out, they are a team that is to be reckoned with. But it is now enough to simply say "the Blackhawks," and people will understand the message.
The Anaheim Ducks, the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, thought they had a plan to surpass the Blackhawks by punishing them physically and relying on their big, skilled, speedy lineup to seize this Western Conference finals.
And while it worked at times in what was a rollicking good series, it didn't work when it mattered most in Game 7 as the Blackhawks whipped Anaheim 5-3 to advance to their second Stanley Cup finals in three years.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
This team is too homogenous. The Rangers need to add a measure of size, strength and malevolence on the wing to wear down the opposition and score the dirty goals they didn’t manufacture enough of during the playoffs, though the emerging J.T. Miller has the physical attributes and the grit for the job, if encouraged to play to those strengths.
And the Blueshirts most certainly need to add a physical defenseman capable of forcing the opposition to think twice before either crashing through the crease and into Henrik Lundqvist, as the Capitals did with impunity in Round 2, or zooming through the slot, as the Lightning did without a care in the world throughout Round 3.
Vigneault has had no use for 22-year-old righty Dylan McIlrath — the 2010 first-rounder who is owed a qualifying offer, will no longer be exempt from waivers, whose game in the AHL has received mixed reviews, but who is of the very ilk the Blueshirts require.
Now, the Rangers will either have to use him or lose him. It would be ridiculous to lose McIlrath without seeing what he has to offer in a regular season that will mean less than ever (as long as they get into the playoffs).
If that means buying out the final year of Dan Boyle’s contract even though his over-35, $4.5 million cap hit would remain on the books if he is unwilling to waive his no-move or nobody will take him in a trade, then so be it.
The Rangers have to diversify.
And they have to stop turning the other cheek.
From the NHL:
2015 STANLEY CUP FINAL TO START WEDNESDAY
NEW YORK (May 30, 2015) – The National Hockey League announced today the schedule for the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, which begins Wednesday, June 3, in Tampa Bay.
Based on their superior regular-season point total, the Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Lightning will host Games One and Two of the best-of-seven Final, as well as Games Five and Seven, if necessary.
Games Three and Four, as well as Game Six, if necessary, will be hosted by the Western Conference Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
In the U.S., NBC will broadcast Games One and Two of the Final and, if necessary, Games Five through Seven. NBCSN will telecast Games Three and Four.
In Canada, CBC and TVA Sports will televise the entire series.
Among the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday notes:
Word is that Mike Babcock is pushing for [Mark] Hunter to be named general manager of the Leafs. Brendan Shanahan would be wise to look elsewhere. Shanahan needs Hunter to find players. A general manager won’t be able to spend the kind of time scouting that the Leafs require to properly rebuild. Hunter may want the job but the practicality of it doesn’t make sense...
Those who say this is the last shot for the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t really paying attention. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith — the best 1-2-3 in hockey — are signed through 2023. Corey Crawford is signed until 2020. Marian Hossa is signed through 2021. Niklas Hjarmalsson is signed until 2019. So if you lose a Patrick Sharp here, a Brad Richards there and sign Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook to new deals, there’s no reason this kind of success can’t continue for several more years...
Two more things on Keith: 1) His cap hit is $5.5 million, making his contract one of the best in hockey. By comparison, the Dion Phaneuf contract looks ridiculous. 2) Should the Blackhawks win Saturday night, Keith may be the leading candidate to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but he’s not a Norris Trophy finalist. For the record, he was on my ballot, ahead of both P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson, who are up for the award.
If Steve Yzerman can juggle the salary cap prudently, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be Stanley Cup contenders for years. Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn are all 25 and under. And figuring they pick up some assets for the disappointing Jonathan Drouin, that should make them even stronger...
When Brian Lawton tried to acquire defenceman Tomas Kaberle when he was general manager in Tampa, the Leafs first asked for college kid Alex Killorn. That conversation didn’t last long.
Simmons continues, discussing the usual potpourri of sports topics...
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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.
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