Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun,
In what is surely one of the stupidest and most ignorant moves going, somebody with the Senators organization decided to cover a wall near the Penguins dressing room in Scotiabank Place with a large mural. It’s a photo of the Senators shaking hands with the Penguins after the Senators eliminated them in their first-round matchup last spring.
It’s positioned so it is about the last thing the Penguins will see as they make the turn from the main hallway to enter their dressing room.
It’s right in an area where the visiting teams have been known to play their warmup game of “Keep Up,” bouncing a soccer ball around from player to player, trying to keep it from hitting the ground.
“That’s what they’ll be looking at when they play soccer,” said another player, with a shake of his head.
As if you need to give a team any other reason or motivation to want to beat you at this time of year.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Malkin set up the Penguins’ first three goals, two of them on the power play, to stake the hosts to a 3-0 lead. He also played a lead role killing penalties and was a physical force, using his big frame to flatten a couple of Senators, including tough winger Chris Neil.
“Yeah, one year’s experience is a big deal,” Malkin said through an interpreter, as his confidence in his English is not the same as his confidence in his playmaking skills. “I feel more comfortable.”
There are two reasons for this, he said. One is that this year he is playing his natural position, centre, rather than on the wing, which he did a year ago. The other is having Petr Sykora on his right wing. They played together for Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the Russian league in 2004-05 when Sykora signed on during the NHL lockout.
“This year I’m playing with Sykora, I feel more familiar with this guy,” Malkin said. “I feel much more comfortable this year than compared to last year.”
from Empty Netters,
When we started Empty Netters, we have to admit poetry wasn’t exactly something we anticipated readers would submit to us. Maybe we’re a little close-minded, but we’ve never put hockey and poetry together. That’s just us. Regardless, here’s another poem. This one is from EN reader J.T. Koladish:
Cup Number Three
It was the night before the playoffs and all through the air
The hopes of a Stanley Cup hung everywhere
Mellon Arena was dressed up and clean
The city of Pittsburgh seemed so serene
I got off my knees and jumped into bed
I turned on Mike Lange, and here’s what he said:
read on and Empty Netters has a bunch of NHL bits too…
ESPN had a poll up earlier today, asking the question: “Who are you going to watch Friday night?”
Results are below, including a map pinpointing the origin of the results. Find out if your part of the country is more hyped for Crosby or AO.
from Bill Clement at NBC Sports,
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The two best players in the NHL and in a real treat for hockey fans they’re both part of this year’s playoffs. Their careers are in their infancy and will forever be the subject of comparison and debate. The test of time may or may not definitely answer which one was greater.
As for the present, it’s fun asking which would be the choice if one were starting a team from scratch?
If in reality such a decision had to made, it would be the greatest can’t-lose proposition in the history of hockey. The possibility of being wrong would not exist.
From Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet.ca,
It’s easy to sometimes forget that Crosby is only 20-years-old. We’ve already read and heard so much about him for half a decade that it’s scary to think he’s going to be front and centre for another 15-18 years.
But already I see a noticeable change in his maturity. I vividly remember coming to Pittsburgh for the team’s rookie camp in August 2005 and a shy, 18-year-old prodigy from Cole Harbour, N.S., coming down the escalator at the airport and looking down nervously at a throng of media awaiting his arrival. He patiently answered all the questions, like he always has, but his answers were naturally limited by the inexperience of youth.
Now in his third NHL season, his answers to the media are deep and analytical.
more… including the tale of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and some confusion about who the heck is Sidney Crosby.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
This Penguins team has small galaxy of stars. There is Sidney Crosby, of course, Evgeni Malkin, who finished second in NHL scoring this season, Sergei Gonchar, who will get some consideration for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman, Marian Hossa and Gary Roberts, who had two goals, including the winner, in Game 1.
Although Fleury was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, he has been almost cocooned as he has learned to be an elite player, putting behind him questions about his ability and durability.
“Now he sees the play, he’s more mature. He’s not surprised with plays or with shots,” Penguins coach Michele Therrien said. “There’s no doubt, this is the best I’ve seen from Marc-Andre Fleury the last month and a half.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
“Last year, I think we were in shock after Game 1 in Ottawa. They came out and battled us so hard,” said Roberts, who tried to aw-shucks his way around his role in last night’s win. He said luck was the big factor since he is still not in prime shape because of the injury layoff.
“Hopefully, I’ll feel as good tomorrow as I do right now,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of jump in my legs out there. I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
Perhaps. But Roberts had enough left in the tank to score his second goal with 1:35 left and swat around a couple of Senators who tried to rough up the Penguins at the end of the game.
Watching Roberts show the way for his youthful teammates must have gone down especially bitterly with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. He has long believed, as have the team’s fans, that Roberts is just the kind of heart-and-soul player the team lacked.
Update 2:02pm ET: From the Stats Wizards at Elias Sports Bureau, more on Roberts—
via David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
“It’s still the same game, it’s just higher intensity,” Hossa said in comparing the regular season to the playoffs. “We have to battle through the traffic and make hockey more simple.
“Every experience is big and definitely I’m learning. Sometimes it’s a longer process but I’m here and hopefully I can help this team go far.”
more on Marian Hossa…
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
A year ago, the hockey world observed Sidney Crosby as though he were a brand new organism unearthed in the excavation of some long-forgotten hockey rink.
As the teenage scoring sensation and anointed savior of the game prepared for his first playoff series against Ottawa, we poked and prodded and mostly wondered. How would the league’s scoring champ adjust to life in the pressure cooker of the postseason? What could he accomplish? How would he lead his team? Where would he lead his team?
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