Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the CP via TSN,
Much has been said and written about Evgeni Malkin’s superb play when Sidney Crosby went down with injury this season.
But it also should not be forgotten that the Pittsburgh Penguins, nearing a Stanley Cup final berth, may not even be here had it not been for how Ty Conklin stepped in for the injured Marc-Andre Fleury this season.
“Him and Gino, it was probably a coin flip to see who is our MVP this year,” defenceman Brooks Orpik said after Tuesday’s pre-game skate. “Without one of those two guys, we probably would have not made the playoffs. They were instrumental.”
To clear up some conflicting reports and rumors, a quick note about Eric’s and Jordan Staal’s status in the wake of the unfortunate death of their grandfather.
Eric Staal has left Team Canada at the World Championships to join his family and will understandably be missing his game scheduled for Wednesday. Jordan Staal is said to be playing tonight for the Pittsburgh Penguins, then flying home briefly tomorrow to attend the funeral. He isn’t expected to miss any games.
Q. A couple of off‑ice issues. Gary Roberts, how is he feeling? Is there a chance he might play? And Jordan Staal getting some unfortunate news. How do you keep him focused for tonight’s game?
COACH THERRIEN: First of all, Gary will take a decision tonight. He’s sick this morning when he came to report to the team. We’ll see how he’s going to feel before the game, and we’ll go from there.
Regarding Jordan, he’ll leave the team tomorrow morning, and he’s going to come back with the team tomorrow night.
Q. How do you keep him focused for tonight’s game or do you leave him alone?
COACH THERRIEN: This is personal. Everybody deals with those things differently. So he came to see me yesterday announcing the bad news, but he seems all right. He’s focused to play tonight, and I’m sure all of his concentration will be there for tonight’s game.
An interview with Philadelphia Flyers coach John Stevens.
Q. What can you do to get Prospal going? Have you thought even of changing the wingers on Danny’s line?
COACH STEVENS: Well, I think as a coach, you look at all situations. But to me that line has had times this year where they’ve had a lot of success. The ingredients are there. To me, it’s just in the hands of the player right now. We need Vinny to step up and be a good player for us.
From Chuck Gormley at The Sporting News,
The reason the Penguins-Oilers comparisons don’t hold any water is because the days of NHL dynasties are over.
There is simply too much parity in the NHL. As good as the Penguins are right now—and they are good—Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will need to get past players such as Mike Richards and Jeff Carter of the Flyers, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin of the Capitals and Chris Drury and Scott Gomez of the Rangers every year to have a shot at consecutive Stanley Cups. That won’t be easy in a salary-cap driven NHL, rendering the days of NHL dynasties as a thing of the past.
more plus other NHL talk
Stamford, CONN. (May 13, 2008)—VERSUS, the exclusive cable television home of the NHL and the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, garnered a 1.7 National HH rating for its telecast of the Flyers/Penguins Game 2 Conference Final round match-up on Sunday, May 11. It was the most-watched telecast ever in network history among total viewers (2,345,834) and the highest rated and the most-watched NHL telecast ever on the network.
Viewership for the May 11 telecast topped the previous record set during the 2008 Conference Semifinal round with Game 4 of the Rangers/Penguins series on May 1 (1,184,519 total viewers) and the rating surpassed the previous high (1.1) set during the 2006 Conference Final round with Game 7 of the Buffalo/Carolina series.
Maybe not, but according to this poll at Philly.com (via Pensblog) they’re certainly not feeling very optimistic, either:
Update 12:28pm ET: From CBC, the fans will be a factor…
We’re talking the 19,000-plus wacko Philly fans in the stands, considered by everyone the toughest in all of sports. If those folks can intimidate the 2-0 Penguins just a little, it might be enough to crawl back into this Eastern Conference final.
“I would say it’s a pretty tough place to play,” said Penguins star Sydney Crosby, after a light skate on Monday. “At the same time, in the playoffs it makes for a great atmosphere. They’re just a tough crowd. They’re not afraid to say anything.”
from Empty Netters,
The thing that is really striking about these two teams is the relative ease in which they’ve progressed through the playoffs. Detroit is on the verge of completing its second sweep in a row, and the Penguins have only lost one game in the postseason.
Should both of these teams complete sweeps in the conference finals, they will have combined to play 27 games this postseason (The Penguins would have played 13 and Detroit 14.) That would be the fewest postseason games among any two Cup finalists since the NHL went to the current playoff format of four rounds of seven-game series in 1987.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Given the distain the locals here hold for young Sidney, the sight of his old man wandering through the stands during Game 3 tonight would provide easy fodder for the Philly Phanatics who already refer to Crosby as “Number Hatey-Seven.”
Yet while the majority of boos will be reserved for Crosby when the Pittsburgh captain shows up, count on there being a few aimed at Daniel Briere if he does not.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
It doesn’t make for as catchy a slogan as “Vengeance Now” - the Flyers’ declaration of war on an NHL that thumped them mercilessly last season. It just makes sense tonight.
The Flyers can busy themselves trying to get square with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin for his cheap-shot-from-behind elbow to Danny Briere’s head, or they can busy themselves trying to keep their hope alive by winning Game 3.
They can’t do both.
“We’re in no position to go after retribution,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “We need to win games.”
added 7:17am, also from the Philadelphia Inquirer,
“We played better in Game 2 than Game 1, but we need to play better to have success against Pittsburgh,” Flyers coach John Stevens said yesterday. “Sometimes you have to work hard for your breaks. Things happen in a hockey game you’re not always going to agree with; you just have to deal with it.
“That’s what we have to get back to. The ‘Why not us?’ There’s a lot more we have to do to be the ‘us’ we want to be.”
For starters, the Flyers need to be more physical.
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