Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Gordon of Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
While the Blues are asking their D-men to play bigger-than-expected roles, due to the loss of Erik Johnson and Eric Brewer, the Canucks are deep and experienced on the blue line.
The Blues will try to beat that smoothness out of them with vigorous body checking, but Vancouver has more toughness than fans may realize.
To sustain pressure in this game, the Blues will have to fly. And they can’t expect the Canucks to take as many undisciplined penalties as they did in Game 1, since that was a point of emphasis in the team’s preparations.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
After Game 1 Canucks coach Alain Vigneault complained that the St. Louis Blues weren’t just skating through Roberto Luongo’s crease and bumping into him a couple of times, they were spraying him with (gasp!) snow.
“I’m embarrassed to talk about that. It’s ridiculous. Nonsense,” said St. Louis winger Keith Tkachuk. “There is no way our game plan is to go out and try to spray their goalie. You have to stop on the puck - just in case he tries to play it.
“You can tell the game has changed over my 17-year career, when you complain about something like that. As opposed to runnin’ someone from behind or starting a brawl.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
After Game 1 of the Canucks-Blues Western Conference quarterfinal, there shouldn’t be any confusion over what constitutes a penalty in this series.
That’s because, apparently, everything constitutes a penalty. Lay a stick on a Blues defenceman, Henrik Sedin, off you go. Use your arm to ward off a Canucks forward, Jay McKee, and you sit in the box and feel shame. Mill around a scrum too long and you’re liable to be sent off for public loitering. And none of your lip, young man, or you get 10.
At least that’s what it felt like on Wednesday night. That’s also the way it looked as the refereeing tandem of Chris Lee and Dan O’Halloran handed out minors like they were Reese’s Pieces on Halloween night. In the first two periods of a competitive but not particularly violent postseason game there were 11 power plays between the two teams: seven for the Blues, four for the Canucks.
Now, we can argue if that’s an appropriate total for a Stanley Cup playoff game. And there was plenty of arguing Wednesday night. But it’s also pointless because these are the terms of engagement in the new NHL.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Stanley Cup champions Andy McDonald and Dan Hinote, along with Keith Tkachuk and Jay McKee, were granted the floor and given the responsibility of prepping a young team for its first NHL playoff experience.
“The intensity is going to go up a lot,” said McDonald, who won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. “We don’t want them to think that we’ve been playing playoff games (the past couple of months). We’ve been playing games that we can’t lose, but I think the competition is going to get a lot harder and certainly we want to be prepared for that.”
When the Blues meet Vancouver in Game 1 tonight of their first-round playoff series, only eight players in the Blues’ lineup will bring postseason experience to the ice, compared to 16 for the Canucks. Aware of that discrepancy, veterans hoped that by re-telling their personal experiences, the Baby Blues could get past their nerves.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Coach Andy Murray already has a theme:
“The Power of Now.”
That’s Murray’s message to the Blues players as the coach attempts to transition his squad into a playoff mind-set.
Murray, speaking on our 101.1 FM radio show Monday, said the “Power of Now” is all about seizing the opportunity that’s sitting in front of you. He said it applies to veterans such as Keith Tkachuk and other Blues elders, who don’t have much time left in their careers. And it also applies to the youngsters, who need to know that these opportunities are precious and can’t be taken for granted.
“Is this our best chance to win a Stanley Cup? It’s the chance we have right now, and it’s all that matters,” Murray said. “And considering the way we’ve played, we’ve got as good a chance as all the other teams in the playoffs right now.”
from Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“Just because we happen to get into the playoffs this year doesn’t mean we’re automatically in next year,” Davidson said. “So it’s just starting, this is just a process.”
The strong finish and developmental strides this season bode well for that process. The roster will be embellished next season with the return of Johnson and Kariya, as well as injured defenseman Eric Brewer. In addition, recent draft picks such as Alex Pietrangelo, Ben Bishop, Lars Eller and Brett Sonne will come to camp, hoping to push the growth spurt.
“There’s been a lot of things here that have been positive,” Davidson said. “The development of our young kids has been good. The coaching staff, despite all the adversity, has done a nice job. And our fans have trusted us so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. That’s the bloodline.”
And once again, St. Louis bleeds Blue.
from Jeff Gordon of Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“God it feels good,” Murray said. “I feel good for these guys, obviously, and 19 1/2 thousand of their good friends right now. It’s pretty special.
“It just shows you that if you stick with it. and I know I sounded like a broken record to a long of you since the beginning of the year, when I said we were working our tails off . . .
“When I look back at it, I’ll probably realize how difficult it was to do it. I think we tried to be as good as we could be in each game we played and the guys were echoing the same sentiments. It’s a hard-working group of guys. They work hard in practice.
more and below, watch Chris Mason and David Backes as they discuss being in the playoffs…
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The guy never has had the red carpet of life rolled out for him. For virtually his entire hockey career, he’s been dissed, dismissed, doubted and degraded. Even the person who engraved his name on the Stanley Cup engraved his surname as ‘Lagace’.
But like the famous movie producer Robert Evans, the kid has found a way to stay in the picture.
“You get used to it,” Legace told THN.com. “It’s been that way my whole life. ‘He’s too fat, he’s too small, he’s too this or that.’ So you get used to having to prove yourself every day. And that’s fine with me; that’s made me a better person and a better goalie.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Collectively, the hockey staff decided to exile veteran goaltender Manny Legace to Peoria. That was a difficult decision. Legace is a pretty good guy. But Manny wasn’t happy and he wasn’t playing well.
Since his exit, the Blues have seldom lost.
Collectively, the hockey staff elected to keep Tkachuk at the trading deadline and not collect some additional future assets.
Since then, the Blues have seldom lost.
This run from 15th to eighth place in the Western Conference has taken on a life of its own. The Blues transformed into an entirely different team.
Sometimes it seemed supernatural forces were at play -– like when the team rallied improbably at Boston for one of the most freakish victories in franchise history.
And here is the best news: The fun has just begun.
“He’s going to see the doctor and go through a couple of days of testing. If he’s good, and we expect good things, we’ll see ... if he needs another two weeks, he needs another two weeks.”
“I don’t think there’s any risk. He won’t play if there’s any risk. Paul is a smart guy. As long as the doctors say he can play ... if the doctors said that Erik Johnson could play, we’d look at that too, but he can’t. If the doctors say he’s ready and he says he’s ready, he’ll be ready.”
-Blues President John Davidson on Paul Kariya. More on the Blues from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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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