Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
-- Keep wondering when an NHL player will follow the lead of NBA players and go for the max contract allowable. Next year, it will be about $14 million, and right now the highest annual cap hit for next season is scheduled to be Alexander Ovechkin at $9.538 million.
Why such a disparity between the top earners and the max salary allowable? Hard to say. Part of the culture of the game is to leave some for teammates, but of course, the reality is the top players would earn more if they asked for it and the middle- to lower-range players would make less than they are now.
It would take a player willing to stand above the crowd. P.K. Subban, underpaid and a restricted free agent this summer, might be such a player.
-- After watching San Jose blow a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in the first round, it wouldn't be a shocker, I guess, if Pittsburgh blows a 3-1 lead to the suddenly resurgent New York Rangers.
The shocking part, however, would be if the Pens go down the way they're going down, with captain Sidney Crosby involved in a great deal of crap but not scoring goals.
The NHL scoring champ has one goal in 12 playoff games this spring. On Sunday in Game 6, he got himself tangled up with Brian Boyle over and over, got a water bottle squirt in the face from Henrik Lundqvist and absorbed multiple head shots from Rangers blueliner Marc Staal without a call from the officiating staff.
It's one thing for Crosby to be combative and fiery, quite another for him to be distracted. Columbus centre Brandon Dubinsky seemed to get under his skin in the the first round, and now just about everybody is in the second round.
from Katie Strang of ESPN NewYork,
To see Martin St. Louis' exultant smile and boisterous celebration following his first-period goal was to see a player, and a man, so overcome with emotion the past 72 hours he couldn’t help but unleash his excitement. To see the way the New York Rangers reacted, and responded, to that special moment is to see a team for which hope is still very much alive.
Rest and recovery is one thing -- the Rangers needed that, too -- but it is becoming more and more apparent that the alternate phases of tragedy and triumph over the past three days has galvanized a club that looked absolutely dispirited and defeated after Game 4. With Sunday night’s 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers have now avoided elimination twice and forced a winner-takes-all Game 7 Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Of course it was St. Louis who scored the game’s first goal, an achievement that was truly fitting as a tribute considering Game 6 fell on Mother’s Day. St. Louis lost his mother, France St. Louis, to a heart attack on Thursday and returned just one day later to play in Game 6. It was a feat that baffled many players and touched them all.
Sunday, St. Louis brought his father, Normand, and sister, Isabelle, to the game -- a decision that he anticipated would help “the grieving process.” After he scored his third goal of the playoffs, he scooped up the puck. He said he planned to deliver it to his father.
Below, watch St. Louis in some raw post-game dressing room footage...
I do believe the refs made the right calls after this dust-up at the end of the 2nd period.
20:00 Pittsburgh Chris Kunitz: 2 minutes, roughing
20:00 Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby: 2 minutes, cross checking
20:00 NY Rangers Brian Boyle: 2 minutes, cross checking
The NBCSN view...
CBC caught Henrik Lundqvist with a little drive by squirt...
from Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Things will change.
Things must change.
If these Penguins go down in flames for yet another Stanley Cup playoffs by falling to the Rangers in Game 7 on Tuesday. If they do so after barely breaking a sweat against an exhausted and otherwise unremarkable opponent. If they do so after two of the least passionate postseason performances in franchise history — including the 3-1 throttling in Game 6 on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden — then this really would be it.
This would be a gag unlike any we've seen, even in a half-decade of spring failure.
This would be the one that gets Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle involved.
This would be the one that brings meaningful, maybe seismic change.
I'm told ownership is fed up. They're furious. That's not a guess, either. They don't like what they're seeing, and no, unlike the bulk of the fan base, they don't see it solely as a coaching issue. They don't like any of what they're seeing.
And the changes that could result from that … wow, the mind boggles.
Dan Bylsma tops the list, and there should be no question that he should.
With Mother’s Day weekend many were out with family. I, myself, spent yesterday at my mom’s house getting asked by my family for hockey updates and being asked to recap the playoffs thus far. Here are some hockey highlights (or low lights depending on what way you look at it).
In case you missed it Friday kicked off the start of the preliminary round for the IIHF World Championship taking place in Minsk, Belarus.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, NHL Talk, NHL Playoff Talk, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
from Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Because now it gets real. The Garden crowd that had turned on Rick Nash and the Rangers will be back on their side in a boisterous (bordering on obnoxious) New York way. The Rangers will feel momentum for the first time. The Rangers will know that the Penguins, to paraphrase an old Tom Barrasso line, will be playing a game they didn't really want to play.
Awesome, I say.
Even in the regular season when the Penguins would sleepwalk through losses to cellar-dwellers, they'd rise up and beat the elite likes of the Blackhawks, Kings, Sharks, Ducks and yeah, those Bruins. That's why I say bring on Boston and Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, and I'm not even sure if I'm kidding.
Things have been way too cozy for the Penguins this postseason, what with the Blue Jackets being all banged up and the Rangers being roiled early this round by the NHL's silly scheduling.
Well, all that's out the window, including the fatigue factor.
Here comes adversity.
I asked Crosby if it might not be a blessing: “You know, we've shown that when we're more desperate, we're better. But that doesn't mean it's acceptable to play the way we did tonight. There's no excuse for it.”
from Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants,
Marty St. Louis, whose mother, France, died unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 63 Thursday while hospitalized, has returned from Montreal and will play in tonight’s Game 5 of the Metropolitan Division final against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center, with the Rangers trying to stave off elimination.
Coach Alain Vigneault said St. Louis told him this morning that he would return for the game.
“We found out yesterday when we arrived in Pitt that Marty’s mom had passed away and, from there, we obviously sent him back home to Montreal,” Vigneault said. “It was obviously a very, very quiet bus ride from the airport to the hotel. We talked to Marty last night, we texted back and forth this morning and he decided to come back and play. I think it says a lot about him but it also says a lot about his teammates that he’d want to be here and play tonight. He’s here.
“This morning, he said that he talked to his dad and him a nd his dad both agreed that his mom would want him to be here and that’s what he did,” Vigneault added.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
At the Penguins' playoff game Sunday, a fan was wearing a Jim Paek jersey.
Paek, a role player, hasn't played for the Penguins in two decades.
Another fan was decked out in a Jiri Slegr jersey, a non-star who played for the Penguins from 1997 to 2001.
"Part of the fun of going to a Penguins game is to pick out the unusual (jerseys) you see on a given night," said sports radio host Joe Starkey of 93.7 The Fan.
The NHL's Original Six franchises — Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers — are usually viewed as having the most hockey tradition, but Pittsburgh is in their league in having a fan base that is in love with the game.
"On game days, you wake up, go the rink, and you see Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys all around town," Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta said. "It lifts my mood a lot to know the city is behind us."
from Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
If the Penguins and New York Rangers could have borrowed a possession arrow from basketball, there’s little doubt which team it would have been pointing toward Thursday.
The Penguins were sitting on three wins in a row, including Games 3 and 4 at Madison Square Garden, giving them a commanding, 3-1 lead in the second-round playoff series. They can clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference final as soon as tonight, when Game 5 will be played at Consol Energy Center.
“We have an opportunity back here in Game 5, and we have to be as desperate as we’ve been all playoffs long to try to get that fourth win here at home,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said on the day between games.
The Rangers, meanwhile, were between still reeling from their giveaway-filled, 4-2 loss in Game 4 — goaltender Henrik Lundqvist called it “absolutely brutal” after practice Thursday — and steeling themselves to avoid elimination.
“We win Game 1. We are on top of the world,” New York center Brad Richards said. “You lose three in a row, and, as quickly as it went that way, it can go right back. The bounces, momentum, all that stuff can go back in our favor.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Let’s do the math: One goal in 23 playoff games as a Ranger does not equal a salary-cap charge of $7.8 million a year through 2017-18. But what can Sather do, and what would he even be willing to do, given that, a) the GM lusted after Nash for almost two full years before finally acquiring him from the Blue Jackets; and, b) that Nash has led the Blueshirts in goal-scoring in each of his two seasons with the club?
Remember this: Nash brought his no-trade clause with him from Columbus, so he would have to be amenable to leaving. Perhaps — after Wednesday’s booing that may not abate given the Garden crowd’s history of scapegoating particular athletes and not letting go — Nash, a fairly sensitive soul, will decide that it is better to go if provided an attractive option.
But even though Sather was able to find a team willing to take Scott Gomez and his onerous contract, it wouldn’t seem as if there would be a sweepstakes for Nash this time around — not with the contract, not with the playoff history, not with the concussion history.
You would have to think the Rangers would get pennies on the dollar back for Nash then would be left with, well, with whom exactly to score the 30-something regular-season goals that are kind of automatic for No. 61?
The Rangers have one amnesty buyout remaining. If they were to use it on Nash, the team would then be committing to Brad Richards through 2019-20 and the potential whopping cap-recapture penalties that would apply if No. 19 were to retire before the end of his contract.
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.
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