Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Register,
Are the Kings finished, or merely setting up a blockbuster Hollywood sequel?
Losing consecutive playoff games by an aggregate score of 13-5 doesn’t lend itself to many positives, but there is one for the Kings: They were in this exact same hole 12 months ago, then leapt out of it.
Last year, the Kings returned from St. Louis down 2-0 in their first-round series, then won four consecutive games and advanced. Now, after two shockingly poor efforts, the Kings trail San Jose 2-0 in this first-round series, and face a veritable do-or-die Game 3 on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“We’ll play better (in Game 3),” Coach Darryl Sutter said Monday afternoon, after fewer than half the Kings skated. “It’s not like there was a death in the family or something.”
from Katie Baker of Grantland,
Joe Louis Arena has its long history, TD Garden has its swagger, and the Bell Centre has that certain je ne sais quoi. But if I were compiling a list of favorite places to go to watch a hockey game, the Shark Tank in San Jose would be very close to the top. (Notice I call it the Shark Tank, and not the “SAP Center” — I’m still bitter that the place is no longer named after a personal computer introduced in 1995, which was just so perfectly Silicon Valley.)
The sport of hockey has long embraced the absurd — from the gap-toothed smiles to the playoff beards to the logic around letting players punch each other in the face — and few arenas gather all that kooky energy together better than the one in San Jose. Before you even enter the Shark Tank, you can sense it; there are few things funnier than watching a group of middle-aged men clad fully in aggressive shades of teal — a Hertl, a Ricci, and an Ozolinsh! — hopping off the commuter train and striding purposefully toward the arena like they’re about to pitch a VC firm. Actually, I lied: What’s funnier is watching them, later in the game, do “the chomp” with their arms while ominous Jaws music plays and an opposing player gets sent to the penalty box. Also, I forgot to mention that the players skate out of a giant shark head, complete with lit-up red eyes, at the start of every game. What’s not to love?
Of course, it helps that the on-ice product has been one of the NHL’s best over the past decade. The Sharks haven’t missed the playoffs since 2003, which gives them the NHL’s second-longest active postseason streak, after Detroit.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
"It obviously stinks sitting here talking after another lopsided loss, but they did what they set out to do," Kings forward Justin Williams said. "Now it is response time. Now we’re coming back to our rink. We won the first two in our arena last year and they came back and won the next two in theirs. We’re looking to repeat that but we have to start with one.
"Every playoff series run through the playoffs is different and has a different feel. We need to get back. We have one day in between to get ourselves together, regroup, refresh and put this one behind us and take a step in the right direction and have some push back."
The Sharks set a playoff record for most goals at home, and another for consecutive goals in a playoff game.
Those are the dry facts, which can't quite capture how dramatically the game turned and how the Sharks got the Kings to unravel in such rapid fashion, starting with their gritty fourth line as Mike Brown and Raffi Torres scored their first two goals.
I don't know what is more surprising, the great play of the Sharks or the poor play of the Kings.
It is no secret that 10 p.m. EST starts for games are the bane of the the east coast hockey fans existence - especially if their team is the one scheduled to play that late on the left coast.
Last night may have been a night to stay up to watch the battle of California though as the San Jose Sharks erupted with seven goals, putting 40 shots on goal, against the Kings.
You sort of get the feeling Sutter did not want to be at this post-game press conference.
The Sharks had a 5-0 lead after 2 peiods, Quick was pulled to start the 3rd period and then the Kings scored 3 goals to make it a game but did lose 6-3.
from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,
"I'm ready to name him," McLellan reiterated Monday. "I'm just not going to name him."
Niemi -- the Sharks' No. 1 goalie since he arrived in San Jose before the 2010-2011 season -- struggled down the stretch with three losses in five starts before Saturday, when he rebounded to make 30 saves to help lead the Sharks to a 3-2 win at Phoenix. Niemi has started all 34 playoff games since joining the Sharks, going 16-17.
Stalock has had an impressive season in spot duty, going 12-5-2 with a 1.87 goals against average. On Friday, he made 32 saves in the Sharks' 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Regarding the amount of consideration that went into the decision on who will start in net, McLellan said it's "the same amount that has gone into every other game that we've played in the playoffs and the regular season for the last six full seasons. That's the debate we have. We're a close staff. We include everybody, and we make decisions that we think are the best."
via Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,
Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl could return to the Sharks’ lineup soon.
The 20-year-old forward is expected to be ready in time for the Sharks’ first playoff game next week against the Los Angeles Kings, according to a source, and pending medical approval.
Hertl, who has been skating with the team since Feb. 26, may even try to play in one of the Sharks’ final two regular season games, should be he cleared in time. The Sharks host Colorado on Friday and visit Phoenix on Saturday to conclude the 82-game slate.
from David Pollak of Working the Corners at the Mercury News,
Players rarely talk about giving up soft goals because that pretty much reflects on the man in the pads who was the last line of defense.
But they used that term Wednesday night after the Sharks lost 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks and no one would challenge the usage. The Sharks played well, undermined by three goals that got past Antti Niemi before Todd McLellan replaced him with Alex Stalock just before the game’s midpoint.
“We played a heck of a game,” said Joe Thornton, who professed he was fine despite leaving the game late in obvious pain (more on that later). “We were in their end the majority of the night, but a couple soft goals and you lose the game. That’s all.”
All season McLellan has done everything possible to quash any hint of a goalie debate – let’s not even call it a controversy. Niemi was his No. 1, Stalock was the backup.
But Wednesday night, when asked directly if Niemi was “his guy going into the playoffs,” McLellan was hedged.
continued and watch the game highlights below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Tune in for the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks and you might be confused, because the spectacle you'll be treated to will resemble a no-holds-barred postseason affair.
Kind of like when the Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday 2-1. Or when the Sharks beat the Ducks 3-2 on March 20. Or when the Ducks beat the Kings 2-1 on March 15.
If this were soccer, we might be able to create a separate competition during the season, calling it the California Cup, perhaps. I'd pay to watch every single game between these three teams.
Two of them are guaranteed to face off in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week, with the Kings -- in third place in the Pacific Division -- waiting to see whether it's the Ducks or Sharks who finish second in the division and get rewarded with an all-out war with the 2012 Cup champs in the opening round.
So, yeah, there's definitely something on the line Wednesday night. The Ducks can clinch the Pacific Division title with a win in regulation over San Jose.
via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,
Drew Doughty, who did not return after issuing a hit on San Jose’s Tyler Kennedy in the first period of Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks, will travel with the team to Vancouver. Certainly this is not bad news, though the extent and nature of the injury – other than being described as “upper-body” by the team – is not known at this time. More will be learned in Vancouver over the coming days.
The Kings lost to the Sharks 2-1.
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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