Kukla's Korner Hockey
The New York Rangers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 tonight to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against either Boston or Montreal.
Here is the game winning goal by Brad Richards...
from Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post,
There was an ominous cloud hovering over the Penguins as they prepared for Game 7 Tuesday night against the indomitable surging force the Rangers had become in Games 5 and 6.
A palpable air of angst hung in the Penguins dressing room after the morning skate, with players sounding as if they were talking themselves into believing that there was not more pressure on them despite being favored to win Game 7 in their building after squandering a 3-1 series lead on a seemingly gassed Rangers team.
“There’s enough pressure out there – outside pressure – all kinds of crap going around, so we might as well make it fun,’’ Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said.
Niskanen made it clear the “outside pressure’’ and “crap’’ to which he referred was coming from the media, which has painted a picture of the Penguins as an underachieving team with two of the sport’s best players (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) that barely survived the Islanders in the playoffs last year, barely got out of the Columbus series in round one this year and was facing the prospect of blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rangers.
By Tom Murray,
The timing was curious, to say the very least.
Sometime around 8:30PM EST on Monday evening, the NHL announced that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was being fined $5,000 for the “unsportsmanlike conduct” it deemed he exhibited when he squirted Sidney Crosby with his water bottle after the final buzzer of the Rangers victory in Sunday night’s Game 6 showdown at Madison Square Garden.
This news came in the wake of an earlier, unofficial, wave of stories which indicated there would be no fine for Lundqvist.
No problem with the fine for Hank. After all, the league had already established a no tolerance policy for water-based frivolity, fining Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton over $2,800 for his not-so-surreptitious Sunday night squirt of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Thornton was sitting on the bench when he squeezed; P.K. was part of the play taking place right in front of the Bruins bench.
(Lundqvist got a stiffer fine, the maximum allowed the NHL’s Players Association, because he makes a lot more money than Thornton’s $1.1 million salary.)
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
The whispers and questions about Sidney Crosby have begun. Is Sid the Kid still the best hockey player in the world?
Seems sacrilege even to debate it.
But not the way he and the Penguins are performing lately.
And not the way Jonathan Toews is playing. Toews may well overtake Crosby for the title these playoffs.
Who do you think will win tonight and giving a reason why earns you some extra credit.
I am picking the Rangers. I just think Lundqvist will be the difference.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
This is the time and this is the place. Game 7. Rangers’ Time.
Almost too late, but just in time, the Rangers found their soul and they found their game and so here they are, this team that has been a tough, tough out for three years running, still one strike away from elimination, that’s true, but now holding the hammer on the Penguins and Pittsburgh’s season.
It’s Game 7 of the Eastern semis on Tuesday, the Rangers in their fifth winner-take-all match since 2012, having won them all, and the Penguins in their third since winning the Cup in a Game 7 in Detroit in 2009, losing these last two, and both at home.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Win or lose Game 7 tonight against the New York Rangers, Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be back next season as the face of the franchise and of the NHL.
Win tonight and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will be back.
I assume you notice the difference?
It hardly seems fair in some ways. Any coach is only as good as his star players. Many of Bylsma's stars haven't been nearly good enough against the Rangers. That's especially true of Crosby, who acknowledged after the Penguins' 3-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday night that he would like to be doing more, but then said, in a rare curt, defensive moment, that he would leave the evaluation of his play to others.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
from Sam Kasan at the Penguins website,
There is a lot of pressure resting on the shoulders of Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The weight of the fans, teammates and the franchise.
The Penguins best two players and leaders are expected to lead the way in Game 7 of their second round matchup against the New York Rangers Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center at 7 p.m.
Both players are well aware of the situation and the circumstances.
“We have to be our best,” Crosby said. “We look at responding and this as an opportunity. We worked all year to get home ice in the playoffs. We look at it as an opportunity and try to make the most of it.”
Even though the Penguins have missed two opportunities – Games 5 and 6 – to eliminate the Rangers and advance to the Eastern Conference Final, Crosby and Malkin were loose and relaxed while addressing the media at a joint media conference.
continued and below, watch ten minutes of Crosby and Malkin answering questions from the media...
from Mike Brophy of CBC,
Crosby once again has been the target of abuse, first by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and now by the New York Rangers. Typically, he isn't putting up with any of the nonsense.
The only problem is, Crosby has been thrown off his game. One goal and nine points in 12 games might be decent numbers for many NHLers. But not for Crosby. His production is off and his eye has been taken off the prize. Rather than being the leader the Pittsburgh Penguins have grown accustomed to seeing, he has become a problem for a team now facing a Game 7 after having held a 3-1 series lead.
It certainly isn't all Crosby's fault. But his lack of composure has not helped Pittsburgh's cause. It can be argued that as his team's best player, Crosby should not be fighting his own battles at this stage of the season. He should be receiving the same type of protection afforded Wayne Gretzky in his prime.
The Penguins have done a lousy job protecting their leader. And now out of sheer frustration, Crosby is off his game. That was obvious when he speared Dominic Moore in the groin after a whistle and when he cross-checked Brian Boyle at the conclusion of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Rangers.
On the one hand, it is admirable that Crosby stands up for himself. However, when it becomes a distraction and interferes with his team's ability to win, it must stop.
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...
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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