Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Hey, Jaromir, who’s laughing now?
Behind closed doors, that well may have been the message being bellowed inside the jubilant home locker room last night among a group of exhausted—and, in this case, euphoric—Pittsburgh Penguins.
Earlier this week, Rangers star Jaromir Jagr raised some eyebrows in the Steel City for claiming Pittsburgh’s terrific tandem of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin “are not Mario Lemieux.”
But they are damn good in their own right. And no one should know that better this morning than Jagr, who, from ice level, had the best view in the house of just how lethal that Crosby-Malkin combination can be.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
They were as disciplined as a class of fourth-graders with a substitute teacher. If not for the brilliance of Henrik Lundqvist Henrik Lundqvist in goal, they’d have been down by three goals within the first 20 minutes.
“I don’t want to think about it,” said Lundqvist, who yielded as many as five goals for the first time since the infamous Feb. 19, 6-5 shootout loss in Montreal. “We just have to move on.”
Plain and simple, this was an embarrassing display of playoff hockey, even more mortifying given that the Rangers somehow managed to construct a 3-0 lead by the 3:37 mark of the second on goals by Straka, Chris Drury and Sean Avery.
The lead meant nothing. The Rangers couldn’t focus or execute. The defense made terrible decisions. The forwards were not only no better in their puck management, they constantly arrived too late.
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.’
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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