Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If the players thought the atmosphere ramped up in Round 1, it will only intensify now that the field has been whittled down to four teams in the Western Conference and four in the Eastern Conference.
“You wake up this morning and there are 22 teams out and there are eight in ... that’s significant,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who has been in the second round six times in his coaching career, winning one Stanley Cup. “That’s a lot of teams out, a lot of good teams are not playing. Especially in the West, I’m sure all four teams think this is the best chance we might ever have to get to the finals. When you get down to eight teams, it really boils down to who wants to play and who wants to play the longest.
“I’ve always said the first two rounds are the best two rounds because you’re the freshest, you’re the healthiest. I believe the third and fourth rounds become survival for both teams. But I think these first two rounds are the best two rounds, period. The hockey in this round will be even better than the first round.”
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
If ever an NHL playoff series should be sponsored by Starbucks, it surely would be the one featuring the Kings and the Blues.
The bar was set when they didn’t score in their last meeting, on March 22, needing four rounds of a shootout to decide the issue. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter joked the other day that without a shootout they might still be playing that game.
Game 1 is tonight in St. Louis and the fear of multiple overtimes is well-founded, keeping in mind the defensive prowess of the teams and the considerable talents of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, a Vezina Trophy finalist, and his Blues’ counterpart, Brian Elliott.
Purists embrace the absence of the shootout when it comes to playoffs. Even some purists, however, embrace the concept of sleep, which may be in short supply after Kings-Blues games.
NEW YORK (April 25, 2012) – The National Hockey League today announced the schedule for the first four games for both of the Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference Semifinals.
The series between the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators will begin on Friday, April 27th, and will continue with Game 2 on Sunday, April 29th, with both games being played in Phoenix. Game 3, in Nashville, is scheduled for Wednesday, May 2nd and Game 4 will be Friday, May 4th, also in Nashville.
The series featuring the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings will begin on Saturday, April 28th, in St. Louis. Game 2 will be Monday, April 30th, also in St. Louis. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Los Angeles on Thursday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 6th, respectively.
The complete Eastern and Western Conference Semifinals schedule, including start times and television information, will be released upon conclusion of the Conference Quarterfinal round Thursday night.
The Blues beat the Sharks tonight by the score of 3-1 and wrap up the series 4-1.
David Perron had the game winner midway in the 3rd period.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The forecast for tonight at Scottrade Center calls for cold beer and warm feelings. Loud voices will be heard, and there could be dancing at the corner of 14th and Clark. The town is cranking up for a celebration.
The Blues lead the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series. One more win, and the Blues advance to the second round.
The fans and this franchise have waited a long time for this chance to embrace postseason success. The Blues haven’t won a postseason series since a five-game elimination of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round in 2002.
from Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea,
Todd McLellan made all the adjustments a coach can possibly make between Games 3 and 4 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series, but the one change he needed to make, he couldn’t.
As a result, he left HP Pavilion and headed east with his team, this quote ringing in the rafters:
“We have to feel good about the way we played, (and) s—-ty about the results.”
Yes, the St. Louis Blues won again, 2-1. Yes, they lead in the series 3-1. Yes, one goal came on a power play, and one came in the aftermath of another. Yes, the better team won again.
But having changed all four of his lines, having tweaked the penalty kill, having gotten snippy at Wednesday’s practice, and in general having emptied out the coach’s traditional bag of tricks, he and the Sharks came up with deuces and treys again. They are now left with only platitudes to toss into the air in hopes that one will catch a zephyr to God’s ears.
This goal by Andy McDonald, his 3rd of the series, proved to be the game winner. Final score- St. Louis 2, San Jose 1.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Blues-Sharks first-round series has reached its first critical moment.
“We’ve got to win,” Sharks captain Joe Thornton said Thursday morning after his team’s optional skate. “We’re down 2-1, and we need to win this home game. That’s the bottom line.”
“It’s a big game, for sure,” Sharks winger Martin Havlat added. “We just want to be better than we were the other night. I don’t think we played the way we wanted to.”
The Blues, on the other hand, want to avoid making this a lengthy travel series, given the two time zones it involves.
“This is a huge game,” said Blues center Scott Nichol, who knows all too well what his former team in San Jose is capable of. “We know it. We’ve addressed it. By far we’re not satisfied of where we’re at. We played well last game but we can be better.”
“I just think you watch a game and is it really better than it was a year or two years ago? Is there less head shots? Certainly the playoffs this year has been a revelation that not much has changed. Guys are still targeting the head and really putting other players in danger and at risk for serious injury. And that’s frustrating for a player that’s gone through a significant amount of time with that type of injury.”
-Andy McDonald of the St. Louis Blues via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN where you can read more on this topic.
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
Watching the San Jose Sharks going down in Game 3 to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night, a series that seems solidly in the control of the Blues, brought the situation of both clubs into sharp relief.
For the Blues, the window for winning a championship seems to be just opening. With their best youngsters just hitting their prime - Patrick Berglund was awesome in a 4-3 win in Game 3, the Blues’ first road playoff win in nine years - its not hard to forecast the best days are ahead for the club. If Alex Pietrangelo becomes the star on defence many are suggesting he will be, all the elements may be there for St. Louis’ first Cup in the near future.
For the Sharks, a strong NHL outfit for a decade that still hasn’t been able to get to a Stanley Cup final, the window looks to be closing. Joe Thornton is 32, Patrick Marleau will be 33 when next season begins (if it begins) and Dan Boyle will soon turn 36.
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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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