Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Stephane Matteau was in the house because, well, of course he was for a Game 7 on Broadway, and of course this winner-take-all between the Rangers and Caps would go to overtime.
Twenty-one years later, 21 years after the last time the Rangers played an OT Game 7, a new hero etched his name in franchise lore, and it was No. 21, Derek Stepan who put an end to this second round by burying a rebound at 11:24 to propel his team to a 2-1 victory Wednesday.
“Individually, it’s a really cool moment for me,” Stepan told The Post minutes after his shot was heard ’round the hockey world. “But it’s also really cool just to be part of this group.”
This group — these Rangers — are now the first team in NHL history to overcome 3-1 series deficits in back-to-back-years, duplicating their Round 2 feat against Pittsburgh a year ago with this charge out of that hole that germinated with last Friday’s Game 5 victory in which Stepan first set up Chris Kreider’s tying goal with 101 seconds remaining in regulation and then spoon fed Ryan McDonagh for the winner in OT.
Those were big moments for No. 21, who hadn’t been able to elevate his game and put the same kind of offensive-zone stamp on the game in the playoffs that he had for so much of his five-year career.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
No penalty on the play and Boyle went to the dressing room and did not return.
With their 2-1 OT win over the Washington Capitals tonight, the Rangers move on and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals.
added 11:03pm, Derek Stepan's OT goal is below...
The Washington Capitals against the New York Rangers for all the marbles.
The winner will move on to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The puck drops just after 7:30pm ET and is on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
Feel free to discuss.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The private planes have already been dispatched, the tours planned, the sales pitches made — daily, even hourly — to Mike Babcock. The eventual coronation can’t possibly be far away.
All of this is happening while Ken Hitchcock waits for a telephone call or meeting to learn of his coaching future.
“Amazing,” said an NHL general manager, who didn’t want his name involved. “You have one coach with one playoff series win in four years that everybody wants to hire and one coach with exactly the same record — one playoff win in four years — that everybody wants to fire.”
Hitchcock has coached the St. Louis Blues for almost four seasons. He has won one Stanley Cup in his career, albeit not in St. Louis. Babcock has won one, also — his in Detroit.
Hitchcock also lost a Stanley Cup in Dallas. Babcock lost two — one in Anaheim, one in Detroit.
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
The team of officials selected to work this series-ending tilt have also been preparing for the opening puck drop since as early as Tuesday when they got on a plane, train or automobile to arrive in the City. Each official is required to arrive prior to the 9pm et curfew but more likely came in advance of that to join their colleagues for an early dinner. Casual conversation would take place over the magnitude of the game, events from Game 6 that would have been watched by the entire crew from their respective home locations, or even perhaps a perspective gained in a backup role. The officials have a great deal at stake as well. They must be at their very best and desire to be a "non-factor" in the outcome of the game; hopefully to leave it in the players' hands.
They know that there will be a great deal of emotion and energy on the ice from both teams. While they will certainly feel the pressure, it is important for the guys in stripes not to get drawn into the emotional battles that will likely take place. The referees and linesmen need to maintain an emotional state of neutrality, but also be prepared to bring an elevated energy level and impose themselves as the game dictates. The Series Supervisor will have conducted a meeting with the crew at Noon today and highlighted areas of emphasis for the officials to be aware of. That information would surely include protection of the goalkeepers, making sure that each call will withstand the test of a replay and not to be fooled through embellishment. Last but not least, make sure any puck shot over the glass wasn't deflected before imposing a penalty.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Despite all his offensive gifts — his pure skill, his otherworldly hands, his remarkable vision — Patrick Kane isn’t sure he’d even be a professional hockey player had he been born in the 1970s instead of the 1980s. Not at 5-11. Not at 177 pounds.
“In the early 2000s, or the late-90s, it seemed like it was a bigger man’s game, and it would be tough for guys our size to end up even making the NHL,” Kane said. “But I think with the rule changes, and the way the game has changed as far as what you can do defensively, I think smaller guys are able to get away with a little bit more, and are able to be a little bit more productive.”
A little bit, yeah....
The changes that came out of the 2004-05 lockout were designed to open up the game and kill the neutral-zone trap that slowed the game to a crawl in the 1990s and early 2000s. The red line was eliminated, opening up the two-line stretch pass that the Hawks have since mastered, and the league cracked down (for the umpteenth time) on obstruction and the clutching-and-grabbing that made teams such as the New Jersey Devils so effective.
Without a mass of humanity to muscle their way through in the neutral zone, smaller, faster players suddenly had a chance again. And now they’re often making the big guys look silly.
I tweeted this while doing a bit of shopping and now that I am home, you can check it out yourself on KK.
from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,
The Habs finished second overall in the regular season and the loss to Tampa did not represent a playoff fail. They did beat a very hot Ottawa Senators team. They were up against a speedy, skilled opponent in the Lightning and they showed guts and class to come back from three games down and win two. When you win six games in the post-season, that’s not a fail.
But the window has to be forced open now, the stretch when the Canadiens should have a legitimate shot at winning a Stanley Cup every season from now until the end of the decade with Price in goal.
It won’t be easy. That fact seems to elude fans and commentators alike. There are 29 other teams out there now and at least 15 of them are somewhere between pretty good and outstanding. The Habs lost to a team with two brilliant forward lines, a towering defence and an outstanding goaltender. There’s no shame in that.
Attention now has to turn to beating the Lightning next time. Winning hockey’s ultimate prize involves careful attention to detail, a significant effort to put together a better offence without sacrificing too much on the blue line, finding a specialist to ignite the power play, establishing Galchenyuk at centre....
If you’re inclined to bitch about a 110-point season, look on the bright side: You could be cheering for that debacle down the 401. Now those fans have reason to complain.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com