Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Even allowing for the way hockey is transformed from a regular-season Autobahn to playoff bumper-to-traffic that’s 12th Avenue northbound at 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, you would still have every reason to believe this first-round series should still feature a cavalcade of entertainment, and should still be a showcase for some of the league’s most compelling talent, right?
Well, you would be wrong, Shanahan Summit-breath. For in its infinite wisdom, the NHL has decided fans and the sport are better served when its officials turn blind eyes toward the hooking, holding and obstruction fouls for which there was supposed to be a zero-tolerance level coming out of the canceled 2004-05 season.
Neither the Rangers nor Penguins have benefitted to a greater degree by this return to the bad old days. The officiating hasn’t been determinative in the Blueshirts’ 2-1 margin in the series that resumes with Wednesday’s Game 4, even if both sides have legitimate grievances over the way the games have been called.
Pittsburgh’s Running of Henrik Lundqvist has become an annual rite of passage, like the Running of the Bulls, with Chris Kunitz for the second consecutive spring the most notorious and unabashed culprit. Undeterred in their own right, the Rangers have taken liberties against Crosby and any other Penguin on the move.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there was nothing pretty about this one that was contested along the boards, in the corners and in front of the net almost all the way … and in front of Henrik Lundqvist’s net for significant portions of the third period when the Penguins took advantage of a more passive/cautious Rangers’ approach.
Apparently conforming to a mandate from NHL headquarters to allow just about anything and everything go, the referees called next to nothing, thus prompting both teams to clutch and grab all over the ice, even when such obvious obstruction eliminated scoring chances.
Why the league wants this kind of a game is beyond anyone’s comprehension, but that’s what it got — a game out of the late ’90s and early 2000s, when obstruction and trapping ruled the day.
The Penguins sure have a kick on a couple of obvious Rangers infractions that not only erased opportunities, but immediately preceded both Blueshirts goals that were scored on ensuing rushes. And the Rangers have more of a kick on the frequent times the officials allowed Pittsburgh to hack, whack, bump and run at Lundqvist.
more on the game...
Game highlights are below...
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Crisis is supposed to reveal true character, right?
General manager Jim Rutherford lost his cool after the Penguins' 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night to fall within two defeats of a first-round elimination in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins' dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.
“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
“You're a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.
Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media's lead sports columnist.
My role is to provide opinion.
“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.
As (expletive) as my opinion might be, it remains that Rutherford has botched an attempted retooling of the Penguins. If this unfortunate incident is any indication, he lacks the poise necessary to move that project foward.
via the NHL YouTube Channel,
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off in Game 2 on Saturday night. Listen in as microphones pick up the action on the ice.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Add in a scarcity of scoring — and the fact that Crosby had counted just one goal in 19 post-season games prior to Saturday night — few were willing to give the Penguins a chance to advance past the opening round.
Little surprise, then, that Crosby’s two-goal effort in Saturday’s hugely significant 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden has taken a lick out of whatever self-doubt may have been eating at the team.
And with the series shifting back to the Steel City for Games 3 and 4, there is once again a glimmer of hope for the Penguins.
“Obviously we need (Crosby) to be a threat offensively and he’s been that through two games,” Pittsburgh centre Brandon Sutter said following a team meeting at the Consol Energy Center where the best-of-seven series will resume on Monday.
“He’s had the puck a lot, held on to a lot. When he has the puck down low and is spinning in the corners and making plays, that’s when he is so dominant.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
To a man, the Rangers understood the Penguins would play with desperation following their Game 1 defeat at the Garden on Thursday.
Who wouldn’t have?
Thus, an intelligent man or woman — or I — would have expected the Blueshirts, whose work ethic and attention to detail were unassailable throughout their Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season, would have been committed to matching the Penguins’ Hunger Game for Saturday’s encore on Broadway.
Not even close.
“I don’t think we got up to our standard,” Mats Zuccarello said after the Game 2, 4-3 defeat that wasn’t close to that close. “I think everybody has to step it up.”
The Rangers’ execution was wanting, but it was the effort that was most disappointing.
from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins can only hope their superstars find their way in the postseason as they prepare for Game 2 of their first-round series against the heavily favored New York Rangers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
“Guys with that kind of talent,” right wing Blake Comeau said, “you can only contain them for so long.”
They have been contained for quite some time, though.
Jarring numbers surround Crosby and Malkin entering Saturday's game.
Crosby has scored one goal in his previous 19 postseason games. In 13 career playoff games against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, he has scored once.
Malkin's numbers in recent playoff seasons are marginally better. Although he did produce a hat trick while eliminating Columbus last season, Malkin has been held without a point in 11 of his past 21 postseason games. Malkin has multiple-goal games in three of his previous 56 playoff appearances.
via the NHL YouTube channel,
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off in Game 1 of the their series. Listen in as microphones pick up the action on the ice.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins, who started what figures to be a short spring, showed up in Gotham as a convincing facsimile of the Penguins you've come to know and mourn.
"We didn't do it early enough tonight," Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said in the losing dressing room. "But we feel we have the guys in the room to do it."
Well, that's one of us.
A team that hasn't scored four times in the same hockey game since March 12 scored its usual one or two, this time one to be precise, and only the functional brilliance of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, particularly in a second-period cadenza in which he turned back all 14 New York Rangers shots, kept the inaugural episode of their Eastern Conference playoffs from reaching its fully prescribed ugliness.
So much for the working theory that the Penguins, removed from their customary brain-locking Stanley Cup-or-bust postseason approach, would benefit from the urgent simplicity of just trying to, you know, win a hockey game.
from Pat Pickens of the New York Times,
They may have a roster that includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, but these Pittsburgh Penguins are different.
Renowned for their skill, the Penguins are used to being the hunted and not the hunters. They had won their division the last two years and had finished first or second in their division (now the Metropolitan, previously the Atlantic) every season since 2006-7.
But this season, Mike Johnston’s first as coach, the Penguins finished 18th in the N.H.L. in goals, scoring 2.7 per game. They narrowly reached the postseason, finishing fourth in their division, and are considered a heavy underdog in their series with the Rangers, which begins Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Still, the Rangers are not taking their rivals lightly.
“They’re a very dangerous team on their transition,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “Coming through the neutral zone on an odd-man rush or with speed, they obviously have Crosby and Malkin, guys who can control the game.”
A healthy Crosby is a primary concern for the Rangers. This season, in which he had to deal with mumps and a variety of linemates, Crosby registered 84 points — third-most in the league — in only 77 games.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org