Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the CP,
Down 3-0 in the second period to the Eastern Conference’s stingiest team this season, Sidney Crosby and his teammates rallied back for a 5-4 thriller in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal with the New York Rangers.
“I don’t think you’re ever happy on the bench when you’re down three-zip, but there’s a difference between not being happy and quitting,” said Crosby, who was the game’s best player while putting up two assists.
It was an important achievement, psychologically most of all, for a young core playing only its third-ever playoff series.
“At that point (down 3-0) we were a little shaky, but it showed the character of this hockey team,” said Penguins head coach Michel Therrien. “We never quit. This is a great accomplishment for that young group to be able to bounce back against at a team like the Rangers who are really committed defensively.”
added 11:48pm, from Lynn Zinser at Slap Shot,
The Rangers have plenty of things to blame for their 5-4 loss to the Penguins in the first game of their playoff series Friday night, most self-inflicted, but they took issue with the call that set up the game-winning power play goal.
Rangers forward Martin Straka was called for interfering with Penguins center Sidney Crosby on a rush started by Marian Hossa. Rangers center Scott Gomez had knocked the puck away from Hossa at the blue line, seemingly thwarting the threat. But on the other side of the play, away from the puck, Straka ran into Crosby.
“I just saw him,” Straka said. “He was diving and that was it.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
This was more than your customary vanilla pre-series press briefing from Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
This morning, hours before the puck would be dropped here for the opener of the Rangers New York Rangers -Penguins Eastern Conference semifinal, No. 87 reacted angrily when asked to respond to innuendo from Tom Renney that Crosby embellishes possible penalties and takes dives.
Thursday, Renney, asked if he were concerned about a potential bias toward Crosby, who has been known to embellish in order to draw penalty calls, said he would speak to the series supervisor of officials about a number of topics.
“I haven’t changed one bit; I never dove and I don’t dive now,” Crosby said today with a flash of anger. “That’s just part of the playoffs; part of gamesmanship.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
In the 2000-01 season, the Penguins had just come through their second bout of bankruptcy. They only remained in Pittsburgh because Mario Lemieux found the financing to take over the team and later that season he came out of retirement, in part because the team desperately needed a gate attraction to stay solvent.
By then, however, Jagr was in a long public sulk. He fought with his coaches and teammates and the media.
Now, he says, looking back with the wisdom of 36-year-old eyes, it was all done to keep forwards Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka and Robert Lang in Penguins uniforms. All three were set to become free agents at the end of the 2000-01 season and Jagr said he knew the team needed them more than him. After Lemieux made his comeback halfway through the season, Jagr said the team could afford to lose him.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The Rangers New York Rangers must get the puck in deep, they must force the Penguins to play as much as possible in their own end of the ice, and they must stay out of the penalty box in order to prevail in the Eastern semifinal series that commences here tonight.
Equally important, however, is what the Rangers must not do in this marquee matchup between Broadway’s bright lights and Sidney Crosby’s name above the title, for they must not become preoccupied with Pittsburgh’s - and No. 87’s - penchant for embellishing and contesting every call, and they must not become consumed with matching lines against Crosby or Evegni Malkin.
from Stan Fischler at Game On,
INTANGIBLES: Crosby will be under extreme media pressure and that alone could enervate The Kid. If Avery succeeds in luring Pitt into a headhunting expedition, that, too, could hurt the Pens. Opening on the road won’t scare the Blueshirts; they took all three games in Newark. Motivation is high on both sides and each club is well-rested, but the Penguins will be more rusty from the longer layoff.
CONCLUSION: I picked the Rangers in seven over New Jersey never thinking that Brodeur would have such a mediocre five games. I pick the Blueshirts in six as much on a hunch as the fact that New York has been in an impressive crescendo. Add The Avery Effect to that, and ‘nuff said!
NHL.com has preview pages set up for every series going into the second round. Each one of the links below has its own selection of related multimedia archives (photos and video), the official media guides for each team and stories from various NHL.com writers.
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Tags: media, playoffs
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Rangers profess to be glad to have him as a teammate; one was quoted recently as saying he would “take a bullet” for Avery.
Not surprisingly, players on other clubs view him a bit differently. Characterize their feelings about him as mixed, because some think he’s a jerk and a blight on the sport; others aren’t nearly as charitable.
Earlier this month, when asked about Avery’s celebrated face-guarding stunt against New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur in a first-round game, Penguins left winger Gary Roberts responded by labeling Avery an “idiot.”
It was the kind of remark Avery isn’t likely to forget. After all, it might be the nicest thing an opponent ever says about him.
from Jay Greenberg of the NY Post,
“With all due respect for [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, I don’t think they are Mario Lemieux,” said Jagr, preparing to go to Pittsburgh, his first NHL home, for tomorrow’s night second-round opener between the Rangers New York Rangers and Penguins.
“I say that with all due respect because the game has changed.
“The gap between the best and worst players on a team [today] is very small. The gap between Mario and the rest of the guys when I was in Pittsburgh was so huge he was able to score 20 points in one series. I don’t think those kids are able to do it. If I am wrong I am going to apologize and [say], ‘Great job.’
from the CP,
Welcome to the Penguins’ unexpected spring vacation, one they hope doesn’t get them off their game just when they appeared to be peaking. On a day they expected to be playing Game 5 against Ottawa, they had a light skate before many players went home to watch some or all the day’s three NHL playoff games.
“I’ve been watching a lot,” forward Jordan Staal said. “It’s always fun to watch playoff hockey and, even though you’re a part of it, you love watching it, too. I think all of us have been watching a lot of games to see what’s going on.”
Sidney Crosby said not knowing who the Penguins would play next - either the Bruins, Rangers or Capitals, in a series that will start sometime late in the week - made watching the other games more interesting.
“It’s nice that we’re through our first one and we can have a little sit-back and watch,” he said. “I think everyone who’s involved in the playoffs has fun being part of it and follows it.”
from Lew Serviss of Slap Shot at the NY Times,
With Pittsburgh already across the finish line, the Rangers await a second-round match-up. If the Canadiens, up 3-2 over the Bruins, can close out Boston, and the Flyers, up 3-1 over the Caps, can finish off Washington, then the Rangers draw Pittsburgh and Montreal gets Philly.
Checking the season series — what have we here? — the Rangers had the edge, winning 5 games to 3 for the Penguins. Here’s the season series:
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