Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Arpon Basu of NHL.com,
Evgeni Malkin sat in his dressing room stall, dutifully answering the questions he was being asked -- even though he had no answers.
Malkin was just one of the array of offensive stars on the Pittsburgh Penguins who did not register a single point in a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final at the hands of the Boston Bruins, one completed Friday night with a 1-0 loss at TD Garden.
Malkin, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Jarome Iginla and Kris Letang combined for zero goals, zero assists and a collective minus-23 rating in the four games.
"We scored two goals in four games. It's not enough," Malkin said, his voice barely more audible than a whisper, in a dressing room wrought with sorrow. "It's my mistake. I scored zero goals."
With a win tonight in Boston, the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
Will the Penguins find a way to win tonight to avoid a sweep?
Game begins just after 8:00pm ET on NBCSN, CBC and RDS.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
The Penguins had gone up, up, up in the Crosby era – missing the playoffs, losing in the first round, making the Cup final, winning the Cup – until that loss to the Canadiens. It has been a roller coaster since – a first-round loss with no Crosby or Malkin, a first-round loss with Crosby and Malkin, and now this. The Eastern Conference final is a step forward, but not far enough.
Crosby has risen to a new level, battled concussion problems, come back as great as before and suffered a broken jaw. He missed a month and put up seven goals and 15 points in 10 playoff games, and suddenly he's struggling.
He is still only 25. He is still the face of the NHL and should still have much to look forward to. Yet if anyone should know not to take anything for granted, it should be him, and if the Penguins lose this series, one more precious chance will be gone. Crosby will have been humbled, not just by his own mistakes, like his brutal giveaway that led to a goal early in Game 2, not just by the Bruins, who have smothered him, but by the game itself.
Crosby lost his helmet in double overtime of Game 3. He kept chugging with that head and jaw exposed, trying to create something, trying to do what the best player in the world is supposed to do. But not long afterward, the puck ended up in the Pittsburgh net instead. Just when he thought he appreciated how tough it was to get to the Cup final, it got even tougher.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Flyers arrived in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in a decade with the expectation, at least externally, that they would cruise through a Detroit Red Wings team that had been remade before the season and featured five Russian players playing prominent roles.
In fact, after being crushed 6-1 in Game 3 of the finals, head coach Terry Murray referenced the team being in a "choking situation," a term that has become part of the lexicon of playoff hockey.
Whether that was accurate or not, the Flyers lost Game 4 and were swept out of the finals, and shortly thereafter Murray was fired as head coach.
History suggests, however, that despite the presence of Eric Lindros, Rod Brind'Amour, 50-goal scorer John LeClair and goalie Ron Hextall, the Flyers weren't necessarily chokers but rather the victims of a Detroit team that was deceivingly good.
That Red Wings team -- with future Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, Slava Fetisov and an emerging Vladimir Konstantinov -- might have been underappreciated at the time, but it turned around and won the 1998 Cup by sweeping the Washington Capitals in the finals, as if to reinforce the Red Wings were the real deal no matter how much emphasis had been on what the Flyers did or did not do against them the previous year.
We were reminded of that 1997 series as we watched the Pittsburgh Penguins drop a gut-wrenching third straight game to the Boston Bruins on the road Wednesday night.
Round 3 is not over, but here are the top plays from the games so far.
Information compiled by the NHL PR department...
Chicago forward Marian Hossa has scored seven goals this postseason, a League-high six of which have given his team the lead (his other tally was a game-tying goal). Twenty-two of Hossa’s 43 career playoff goals (51.2%) have been go-ahead scores. That is the highest percentage among active players with 40 or more postseason goals and the fourth-highest rate in NHL history (also 40-goal minimum). The top three players in that regard are Stephane Richer (54.7%), Dale Hunter (52.4%) and Mike Modano (51.7%). (Elias)
Hossa ranks second on the Blackhawks with 7-7—14, including two game-winning goals, in 16 games this postseason. He also places fifth among active players with 43-68—111, including 10 game-winning scores, in 146 career playoff games.
Chicago forward Bryan Bickell continued his postseason surge with his eighth goal and first multi-point game of the playoffs (1-1—2). Bickell’s eight goals are tied for second in the League (with teammate Patrick Sharp), while his 11 points rank third on the Blackhawks. He has recorded at least one point in each of the first four games of the Western Conference Final (3-2—5).
Do you think the refs would have called the kneeing penalty on Brad Marchand if Chris Kunitz would not have retaliated with the slash?
Both did receive penalties and rightfully so.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Bergeron's winning goal was initiated by a obvious hook by Jaromir Jagr (of all people) on Evgeni Malkin. Malkin is one of the great skill players in the sport, and Jagr was, and as Malkin headed up ice with the puck to lauch an attack on the Boston net Jagr used his stick to haul in the Russian and nearly lift him right off his feet.
It was the kind of play that was commonplace in the NHL about 20 years ago. So illegal, and so obvious. Heck, the way the game is supposed to be called now, Jagr should have been called just for putting his stick horizontally across Malkin's body.
But with Gary Bettman's administration having already embarrassed itself with the way in which the rules have been called both during the regular season and even moreso in these playoffs, both referees simply waved play on in the "let the players decide it" philosophy.
When will they understand that when they let the players decide it, usually the players will decide it by breaking the very rules the league is supposed to enforce? When will they understand that Malkin could only be stopped on that play by a blatantly illegal play, and that it's vital to the integrity of the sport to make that call?
Below, watch the goal again with HNIC's Jim Hughson providing play by play and Craig Simpson with the analytical work. I have advanced the video to start with the reply of the Jagr/Malkin play
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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