Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Terry Frei at ESPN,
In prime time, this could have been an effective infomercial for the NHL and the sport in the United States on NBC, from Game 3 and beyond.
It still can be—if the Penguins stop looking for conspiracy theories, cease being so paranoid about the officiating and can overcome what in some cases seems to be a curious lack of focus, as in Malkin’s case (in the series with the Cup on the line). Maybe, even if it ends Monday night, if the Penguins stop looking like a team that can’t yet handle the ultimate pressures, this still can go down as a great series. If they extend it, it truly can be…
A dream series.
From James Duthie at TSN,
So instead of repeating the ultra-obvious, the “he needs to have another great game tonight” stuff, I set out to discover 10 things you don’t know about Sidney Crosby.
No. 1: One of his nicknames in the dressing room is “Creature,” a nod to his freakish lower body. It is huge. Gigantic. Hugantic. His caboose would make J-Lo jealous. His thighs are bigger than my torso. All his pants have to be custom made. And the scary part is, his upper body is starting to catch up.
Q. It’s a different game, because this is a clinching game. How much does the message change to your players on a night when the Cup could be won?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: Obviously I’m not here to lie. It’s an important game. But for us, all our focus has to be on tonight’s game. We can’t look at what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s a Game 7 for us. And we’ve got to make sure we’re going to leave everything on the ice.
From Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail hockey blog,
Funny moment at the day-of-game skate – funny if you’re a print reporter, less so if you’re a broadcaster:
A handful of TV crews had staked out Tomas Holmstrom’s locker, by the entrance to the Detroit Red Wings’ dressing room in the hopes he would definitively declare his status for tonight’s fifth game of the Stanley Cup final. I was standing in the corner, near to the training room, in the vague hopes of getting one question asked to Nicklas Lidstrom before the pack descended. Holmstrom came by, surveyed the crowd, decided he didn’t want to chance it and said, at the top of his voice: “I’M PLAYING TONIGHT. SEE YOU TONIGHT.” Then, he turned and made his way out the back exit. I felt especially badly for Ryan Rishaug of TSN, because he too was hovering nearby, but Holmstrom came and went so quickly, they didn’t get any tape of him making his announcement.
It was a zoo, even by Stanley Cup final standards this morning – everybody anticipating a Detroit win, so that they could a jump on their post-game stories, which are next-to-impossible on a tight deadline on a championship night.
Update 1:30pm ET: Shawn O’Roarke at NHL.com also shares some thoughts on today’s atmosphere.
Q. Michel Therrien has been talking about how as this series has progressed, you guys as a team have gotten better. How do you think you’re better equipped to handle the pressure of maybe playing in this building tonight, than maybe you were heading into Game 1?
SIDNEY CROSBY: I think we saw some pretty good results. We haven’t come out with a win in a couple of different occasions where we played pretty well. The chance has been there. Last game, we didn’t give them a whole lot. I think we played our position a lot better as the series has gone on and been more patient. We just have to keep doing the same thing.
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
If the Detroit Red Wings manage to complete their quest for the Stanley Cup tonight and I’m presented with a ballot for the Conn Smythe Trophy, I’m inclined to leave it blank and give it right back to the NHL.
It’s not out of protest or a desire to be a conscientious objector. The fact is, going into Game 5 of the final, I don’t believe anyone deserves to win the Conn Smythe. That could all change with some kind of superhuman performance tonight, but personally, I’m having a hard time coming up with a single player who has delivered an indisputable MVP performance in these playoffs.
continued… and Campbell does take a closer look at the likely candidates
Q. How did you sleep last night given what’s at stake tonight?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: Outstanding. Slept really good.
Q. Can you just talk about being in the moment and how locked-in your team is, because this city and the fans are planning a big party tonight, and how your team doesn’t get caught up in any of that?
From Jim Kelley at Sportsnet.ca,
After all, a Pittsburgh loss in the Joe Louis Arena and the Detroit Red Wings are Stanley Cup champions. The kids, well, deep down in their collective hearts, you just know they believe there will be a second chance, maybe even a third or fourth if they can keep the core of the team together.
Not so for Roberts.
“Deep down I know this is probably the last time for me,” Roberts said in the hours before the team plane departed for what could be the last game of the season and possibly Roberts’ career.
From Mike Brophy at The Hockey News,
This has not been the close Stanley Cup final many hoped for when two high-powered offenses like the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hooked up.
In fact, there is a good chance it’ll all be over on Monday.
But here’s the thing – the hockey has been great. The NHL appears to be inching closer and closer to what it set out to accomplish following the lockout with a greater emphasis in speed and skill.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
When it ended, the painful one-goal loss in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final, Evgeni Malkin sat at his locker, face in hands, not moving.
It was the first visual sign from one of the young Pittsburgh Penguins that this dream season was not to be.
And it wasn’t just Malkin. When Penguins coach Michel Therrien sat at the podium to answer questions, the tone lacked his usual bravado and humour.
Simply, he sounded frustrated and defeated.
Tonight, the Penguins have an enormous test against the Detroit Red Wings, not just to score some goals, but to try to win a game on the road and keep the Stanley Cup final alive.
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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