Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,
The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues play Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at Scottrade Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Blues lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.
Here are 5 keys for Game 2:
1. BATTLE HARDER
The Blues are a hard, heavy team. They played quick, speedy teams in the first two rounds in the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars but now need to adjust to an opponent like themselves. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock called Game 1 of the conference final the hardest his team had played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from a "compete-on-the-puck" standpoint, with lots of board play and battles. He used words like "exhausting," "demanding" and "draining."
"We're playing a mirror image of ourselves," Hitchcock said of the Sharks. "It's going to take some getting used to because we frustrated a lot of teams all year. They're able to do that too. Their game, they are committed. They are 100-percent, all-in committed. We're just going to have to learn to play through it to beat them."
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
Wyatt Nelson's hockey play-by-play audience is going to mushroom Tuesday.
Wyatt, the 12-year-old native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan made famous by the "Discover Card Day with the Cup" video that shows him doing hockey play-by-play for his blind father, Gerry, in the stands at a Western Hockey League game, will be on the St. Louis Blues radio broadcast for Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Wyatt will call part of the first period from the KMOX radio booth with play-by-play man Chris Kerber and color man Kelly Chase.
"I'm meeting so many household names that a 12-year-old boy would dream of meeting and I'm getting to rub shoulders with them and get pictures with them," Wyatt told NHL.com Tuesday. "Now I get to call part of a NHL game. I can't believe it, I'm pumped."
continued also included the Day with the Cup video which I posted a few days ago....
Mic on the ice...
from Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Some perspective: This postseason Backes has scored two more playoff goals than in his previous 29 playoff games combined. His career was without a playoff power play goal and a playoff game-winner headed into Round 1 against the Blackhawks. Oh, and Backes' six assists this postseason are just two shy of his previous playoff totals combined....
The contract that pays him $4.5 million per year is near its end. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. In late January, Post-Dispatch Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford reported negotiations between the Blues and Backes had been infrequent since Backes declined an extension offer of three years at approximately $5.5 million per season.
Things have changed since then. Backes' postseason play has increased his value. The Blues should be more interested in keeping him around. And Backes could find it harder to leave after this run — although receiving more money to go elsewhere tends to make that decision simple. There will be suitors if the Blues don't lock him in.
"He's got a lot of miles on his body, just from the way he's played, but he can obviously still play at a very high level," former Blues captain Dallas Drake recently said of the current captain. "He's proven that in the playoffs. You've gotta be careful writing guys off too early. There are a lot of teams that would love to have him on their roster. I'm sure whatever happens next year, whether it's St. Louis or somewhere else, he'll have plenty of candidates knocking on his door."
Backes is basically a microcosm of the Blues, a regular-season stalwart who finally scaled the playoff wall. Backes and his Blues did it together. A separation after this just wouldn't feel right.
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 16, 2016 – NBCSN’s Game 1 presentations of the Western Conference Final last night and the Eastern Conference Final on Friday night, featuring the San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, delivered the second- and third-best Conference Final Game 1 overnight ratings ever on NBCSN, according to the Nielsen Company. NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Conference Finals continues tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and Penguins.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
It is a matchup the St. Louis Blues will take over seven games, and this thing sure has the look of seven: Jori Lehtera's winner Sunday night coming with the San Jose Sharks' third line on the ice.
No offense to Chris Tierney's unit for the Sharks, which played well the previous round against the Nashville Predators, but if the Blues can get Lehtera's unit -- with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz out there, or any of their top three lines -- matched up against San Jose's third line, this is an area St. Louis can exploit throughout the Western Conference finals.
This is a series pitting two evenly matched teams. Games will be won by a hair, the way it was Sunday with the Blues prevailing 2-1 in Game 1 and the Sharks perhaps unlucky after outshooting the hosts 32-23 and owning the larger share of Grade A looks.
So the smallest of edges might make the difference from night to night in this series.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
Plus, you get to hear Bob Cole in action.
San Jose @ St. Louis 8:00 PM ET NBCSN, CBC & TVAS
I expect a physical series and a long one too.
Feel free to comment on the game.
The Western Conference finals series between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks -- which gets under way with Game 1 on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET in St. Louis -- features a collision of some pretty talented players. Which matchups will be the most compelling? Pierre LeBrun and Craig Custance picked their favorites.
Alexander Steen, C, Blues vs. Joe Thornton, C, Sharks
Most interesting to me will be how Steen is deployed. My guess is he'll see lots of Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl -- San Jose's top line. And the matchup with Thornton and Pavelski won't just be 5-on-5. Steen is one of the Blues' pre-eminent penalty killers and he'll be among those charged with trying to slow down the Sharks' lethal power play, spearheaded by that duo.
In particular, look for how Steen tries to read Thornton as he directs traffic on the power play from the side boards. Pavelski loves to get his one-timer off from the slot on the power play as well. I can't wait to see how Steen plays into all that. Steen has taken on all comers so far in two series, including Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars in the second round. Steen is letting the world know this spring what the Blues have known for a long time: He's got the kind of two-way game that should garner him a Selke Trophy one day. -- Pierre LeBrun
conitnue for more at ESPN
from Ryan Whitney and Mike Rupp at The Players' Tribune,
Sharks vs. Blues. I mean … yikes. I don’t know.
I really don’t know, man. That’s my analysis: “I dunno, man.” You should go on the NHL Network and say that. It’s the truth the people need.
The first thing that comes to my mind is, San Jose’s power play is ridiculous. When you say skill the first team that comes to most people’s minds is probably Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh. But honestly, I don’t think there’s a collection of five guys who are more skilled than the Sharks’ top PP.
Thornton. Marleau. Pavelski. Couture. Burns. That’s disgusting. Filthy.
And they way they whip the puck around without even looking, it’s like watching five Sedins out there. They know where each other are at all times.
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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