Kukla's Korner Hockey
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...
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.
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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."
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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