Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The New York Rangers will write quite the story if they can capture their first Stanley Cup in 20 years.
Because unless you're been living under an Eastern rock this past year, you know that the Los Angeles Kings are favorites, surviving the journey in the much deeper Western Conference -- aka Big Boy hockey.
The Kings beat San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago to get here, three of the top seven teams in the NHL's overall standings this year.
This is not to disrespect the Rangers at all, they beat the teams they were handed, but those teams don't compare to the A-listers L.A. had to go through.
But where the Rangers may have an edge is that they've been sitting at home waiting for the Western Conference finals to end, getting an extra three days rest, as the Kings failed to close things out in Game 6 at home and had to travel to Chicago and pull out a thrilling Game overtime 7 win.
Where is L.A.'s energy level now? They've played the maximum seven games all three rounds to get here, all three series physically demanding.
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
The Kings aren’t going anywhere for quite a while. With the exception of Anze Kopitar, who has two years remaining on his contract, Kings GM Dean Lombardi has much of his core locked up in long-term deals. Captain Dustin Brown, who might have been the best player on the ice in the Kings Game 7 overtime win over the Blackhawks, is under contract until 2021-22, as is Jeff Carter. Mike Richards is signed until 2019-20 and defensemen Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov are locked up until 2018-19. And once you get past all them, goaltender Jonathan Quick is committed until 2022-23.
Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have one more year remaining on their entry-level deals and with the salary cap likely going up after next season, look for Lombardi to get a jump on signing them to long-term deals this summer when he can start negotiating extensions for both players.
So that’s what the rest of the Western Conference faces for the next decade. With all due respect to the Rangers and the run they’ve gone on through these playoffs, it has been nothing like what the Kings have had to endure. They faced a 3-0 deficit in Round 1, took out a team that finished 16 points ahead of them in Round 2 and the defending Stanley Cup champion in Round 3. The Rangers got past the worst team in this year’s playoffs in the first round, a discombobulated and defensively clueless Pittsburgh Penguins team in Round 2 and a team that had lost its No. 1 goalie in Round 3.
If Henrik Lundqvist can outplay Quick and the Rangers can take advantage of what has to be a drained and running-on-fumes Kings team, they might have a chance to win this series. But if the Kings of the first three rounds show up for the final, it could be a very short, very one-sided Stanley Cup final.
MARTINEZ, KINGS EDGE BLACKHAWKS IN GAME 7 OVERTIME THRILLER . . .
Trailing 4-3 late in the third period, Marian Gaborik scored the tying goal with 7:17 remaining in regulation and Alec Martinez potted the series-clinching marker at 5:47 of overtime to lift the Kings to their second appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in the past three years.
* The Kings battled back from 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 deficits. They became the second team this postseason to win a Game 7 without ever leading in the contest; the Wild also accomplished that feat in the First Round at COL (5-4 OT victory). Prior to 2014, the last time a team won a Game 7 without ever leading in the contest was in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals, also an overtime triumph by the Wild at COL (3-2).
* With the victory, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s en route to reaching the Stanley Cup Final. They also won Game 7s in the First Round at SJ (5-1) and in the Second Round at ANA (6-2). Only two other teams in Stanley Cup Playoffs history have played the maximum 21 games through the opening three rounds: the 1993 Maple Leafs and 2002 Avalanche, who both lost in the Conference Finals.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Currently, both players are making the same exact salaries - $6.3-million – and it probably isn’t far-fetched to say both will be in line for significant raises. On the basis of Toews’s value to the team - and the generally held view that if you could pick one player to start a team from scratch, it would be him -it’s hard to imagine he’d settle for less than Sidney Crosby money, and that’s probably where the negotiating fun will start.
Crosby got signed under the last collective bargaining agreement, so he received $104.4-million over 12 years, with an average of $8.7-million, which was permitted because the final three throwaway years are at $3-million apiece. In terms of actual dollars in his bank account, Crosby earned $12-million this year and will do so again for the next two seasons. Overall, in the first nine years of the contract, Crosby will never earn less than $9-million.
Since Kane and Toews are virtually inseparable in the marketing of the Blackhawks, the former will likely want the same money as the latter – and it’s going to get pricey, as the salary cap starts to inch up again.
Negotiations can officially start after July 1, and that will be Bowman’s priority, to get the two signed early, which will then give him lots of time to tweak the rest of the roster around them.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune,
The franchise’s motto is “One Goal.’’ This isn’t that goal. This is failure.
Some franchises might be happy to reach the conference finals. Some might be thrilled just to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Not the Hawks. It’s Cup or bust. They tell us all the time. “One Goal.’’...
Just like that, epic fail.
So much played out in the Hawks’ favor, starting with captain Jonathan Toews, regarded as the best two-way player in the game, and Patrick Kane, the scariest stickhandler in the league.
They also had Marian Hossa, a first-team two-way player. They had Patrick Sharp, one of the best snipers going. They had defenseman Keith, a Norris Trophy candidate, and their next three defensemen were considered to be No. 1 blueliners by Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
The Hawks had everything their way. They owned the roster with the best top-end talent and depth. They had some swagger. They were the defending champs, and despite finishing third in their division, they were looking at home-ice advantage in the three final rounds.
They missed the Avalanche and vexing goalie Semyon Varlamov. They got into the Blues’ heads. They had more talent than the Wild. They had more top-end talent than the Kings, and they are a far more talented team than the Rangers, even if the Rangers have the best goalie in the game.
The Hawks should’ve been the best team going, and they should gone back-to-back and won their third Cup in five years. They didn’t.
from Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Chicago, pack your (body) bags.
Not for a trip to New York for the Stanley Cup Final against the upstart Rangers. That would have been too much fun.
Nope, pack ’em for a long summer off, with only the Cubs (gag), the White Sox (zzzz), the Bulls (not playing), the Bears (lifting weights) and the echo of might-have-been to sustain us.
In yet another thrilling overtime game, the Kings beat the Hawks 5-4, sticking the (Chelsea) dagger deep into our beloved hockey team’s heart. Once again, a 2-0 lead did not hold up for the Hawks, who lost Game 2 after being up two goals.
This one was tougher to take than that collapse because the Hawks were ahead in this game 2-0, then 3-2, then 4-3, before losing on Alec Martinez’s shot that glanced off the Hawks’ Nick Leddy and over goalie Corey Crawford’s shoulder 5:47 into overtime.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Quick, scan back through your memory bank: When did the NHL last have all of this? You know, such popularity, such mainstream appeal and such relevance.
An enduring playoff series like the one just contested by Los Angeles and Chicago will help do that for you, as will the upcoming megamarket Stanley Cup final between the Kings and New York Rangers. A memorable spring seems to have put the little hockey league that could on the verge of something more.
The sight of Charles Barkley wearing a Patrick Kane sweater and high-fiving other fans in Chicago, Robert DeNiro waving a white rally towel at Madison Square Garden or a good portion of Hollywood populating the lower bowl at the Staples Center for the Kings, not the Lakers, provide snapshots for what seems to be an underlying trend.
The NHL has already generated record revenues this season and is expecting to draw sizeable television numbers for the first championship in pro sports to include the two largest American cities since the 1981 World Series. There aren’t precise metrics for it, but what the league has really been creating is buzz.
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune at the LA Times,
At 10:10 p.m. CDT Sunday night, Chicago shook its fist at fate, cursed the Kings and slowly started to face reality that will take all summer to sink in.
BREAKING NEWS: Hearts all over town broke watching the Blackhawks lose, 5-4, in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. There will be no Stanley Cup repeat or Grant Park parade. Stunningly, the Blackhawks' season is over. It even seems odd to type that....
You didn't have to be an NBC executive to appreciate what America witnessed. A wonderful series that deserved a Game 7 required overtime too — as fitting as it was frustrating. With due respect to the Rangers, the NHL will stage a Stanley Cup Final, but this series decided the league's best team.
"It's hard to admit to ourselves this season is over," Toews said.
Rest assured, it will be even harder for a hockey city to accept.
“If you look at how close we were, how competitive it was, it’s a tough league, it’s a tough thing to do to win the Cup. I couldn’t be prouder of our guys the way we competed. It’s a tough situation, down 3-1, and we were one shot away from going and trying to do it again.”
“I’ve lost some tough games, but nothing like tonight.”
-Joel Quenneville, head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks after last night's game, More from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo.
From the OT goal by the LA Kings, to the awarding of the Clarence Campbell Trophy, HNIC was there.
Oh, and Bob Cole too.
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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