Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Sean Fine at the Globe & Mail,
What happened? Detroit is the highest expression of the game’s new ethos: puck ownership. Not long ago, the idea was to give the other team the puck deep in its zone, and then with brute force take it back. Own the ice, not the puck.
Detroit doesn’t do that. It takes the puck and keeps it. During perhaps 80 per cent of the first two games, Detroit possessed the puck. It often seemed as though Detroit had eight players on the ice, and Pittsburgh three. In those two games, Sidney Crosby was sighted with the puck on his stick for perhaps a dozen seconds — in total.
And that is why this dream matchup in the new open-ice era was so dull in the first two games: Detroit’s offence was in effect a stifling defence. “The puck-possession game is a defensive game in a sense because the other team doesn’t have the puck,” says Mr. Watt. He likens it to shooting pool: “It’s not what you make, it’s what you leave.” Detroit left nothing for Pittsburgh.
from Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Osgood is a relentless challenger of shooters, but on several occasions in Game 3, he appeared to struggle when moving laterally.
So, the question for the Penguins heading into Game 4 has become one involving quantity or quality.
Do they continue to fire away at every opportunity in search of rebounds and “dirty” goals, or do they try to take advantage of Osgood’s aggressiveness or his relative post-to-post issues by making the extra pass?
The answer might be yes to both.
From Helene Elliott at the LA Times,
Not having Holmstrom in his face would make it even better for Fleury.
“It’s always tougher as a goalie when you have somebody in front,” said Fleury, who was the first pick in the 2003 entry draft. “At the same time, every playoff, every series, every team, they put that guy in there. We always did a good job with him, and we always came out on top.”
Holmstrom isn’t just any guy. He has four goals and 12 points in the playoffs and is a perfect complement to linemates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
The Red Wings have no shortage of talent—Johan Franzen has a playoff-high 13 goals, Zetterberg has 12 and Datsyuk nine—but they have no one as effective at going to the net and refusing to budge come high stick or high water.
more… on Holmstrom’s condition and his importance to the Wings
Q. Will you give us your understanding of Holmstrom’s injury and his chances of playing tomorrow?
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: What are the rules? Do we have to talk about the injury or just what part of the body or what do we have to do?
FRANK BROWN: The type.
COACH MIKE BABCOCK: I do a lot of stuff with kids cancer, and there’s a thing called HIPAA-compliance where you can never reveal anything about the person, how come we have to do it in the League? (Laughter.)
Oh, anyway, Holmer’s just got - Holmer’s got the back of his leg, the hamstring. He’s got a little problem there. We think he’ll be fine. He’s a tough guy.
From Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail,
Maybe we’ll see a comeback yet in these Stanley Cup finals. Maybe we’ll see one team spot the other a lead and then roar back, on the strength of their talent or their will or even just because the puck took a funny hop on the soft ice of the Mellon Arena.
That was how it was supposed to be in the new NHL, right? Players told you all the time: No lead was safe anymore. With the dark forces of obstruction finally exorcised from the game, teams could not go into lock-down mode if they got an early advantage. They had to play until the final whistle.
Except … in these playoffs, with these two teams, every lead but one has been safe. The Pittsburgh Penguins are a perfect 11-0 when they score the first goal; the Detroit Red Wings are almost as efficient, at 12-1.
Q. Holmstrom may or may not play. What does that change, if he’s not in the lineup?
COACH MICHEL THERRIEN: They still have a lot of quality players. And it’s not going to change anything for us. It might change something for them, but for us our focus will remain the same.
Q. The numbers with Fleury on home ice are pretty staggering. Is there something that you’ve noticed, something in his play, like is there something that changes for him in this building?
Q. There’s been a lot of attention in terms of the Red Wings, maybe their top 5-man unit, particularly with the defense, people focus on Lidstrom. But can you talk about what Brian Rafalski means. He played with a tremendous Hall-of-Famer in New Jersey, and just kind of gets the short shift of attention in Detroit.
SIDNEY CROSBY: He’s a good puck moving defenseman. He skates well. He’s not the biggest guy, but I think he’s smart and plays his position well. So I think he probably makes up with his size with how well he plays his position, and probably helps anybody he plays with to be that much more solid.
Q. This is a time to kind of celebrate the game, but there’s some sad news yesterday with Luc Bourdon. I know you new him a little from Atlantic Canada Midget Hockey, can you talk about how you’re getting set to play the biggest game of your career and there’s some sad news like that?
From Daniel Malloy at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Away from the ice, though, the ferocity disappears, replaced by an aggressive philanthropic spirit.
Mr. Laraque doesn’t turn down a request for his time—“There are no bad charities,” he says—and spends about four days a week during the season working in the community, mostly with children.
“A lot of athletes will talk about doing good things, a lot of them do good things, but Georges takes that to an entirely different level,” said Cliff Benson, who has collaborated with Mr. Laraque on various charitable initiatives around town.
“He makes that a purpose in his life. That makes him different from most.”
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
As was the case for Yzerman during his 19 seasons as Red Wings captain, Crosby is focused only on that next hockey game.
That steely focus is one of Crosby’s many attributes Yzerman finds appealing.
“I’ve watched how he conducts himself, and I like the way he plays,” said Yzerman, who retired in 2006 as the sixth-leading scorer in NHL history and a three-time Cup champion. “He’s an extremely talented kid, but he competes hard.
“I’ve been very impressed watching from afar.”
from Loose Change at the Hockey News,
I hear the snickers. I read your signs.
You pick on me and you pick on Sidney because I don’t live up to your lofty expectations.
You have this notion in your head that playoff beards have to be wild and unruly. Where does it say a “true” playoff beard has to look like the Cookie Monster’s back hair?
A “beard,” according to my Large-Type Whisker-Friendly Dictionary, is “hair growing on the chin or lower cheek of the face.” Nowhere does it have a thread count or a topographical map.
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