Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Craig Simpson of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs everything is magnified. The battles, the intensity, the pressure, the energy, the excitement, they all rise to a higher level. The swings in momentum that can occur within a shift, a period and a game are often the moments that dictate the outcome of a series.
A hot goalie, or a streaky scorer can dominate a series, but there may not be a more important part of the playoffs than special teams.
All year teams work diligently to improve their special teams, understanding the importance of scoring a power play goal at a critical time, or killing off a string of penalties to preserve a lead. No series has exemplified that importance more than the Vancouver, St. Louis series.
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
When Keith Tkachuk calls it a career, which won’t be this summer, he will go down as one of the greatest Americans to have played in the NHL.
But there is an uncomfortable truth about the 37-year-old forward, whose hair and beard are now primarily grey, and it seems to be continuing this spring. The St. Louis Blues are facing playoff elimination, down three games to none to the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final, and are climbing a mountain of history to erase that disadvantage.
For Tkachuk, first-round exits are par for the course. They have happened 10 times in his 12 postseason appearances, and it’s about to be 11 of 13 if the Canucks can win tonight in Game 4 at the Scottrade Center.
from the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Blog,
Is there anything more tiresome or a greater waste of time than a Mats Sundin scrum? The man moved far more deftly than at any time he’s been on the ice by doging all the questions about his absence in Game 3 and the possibility of him playing Game 4.
He did make one slip however, admitting that in fact he did hurt himself in the third period not the first period (which Alain Vigneault claimed in his post-game news conference Sunday iin what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to mislead people).
“I haven’t spoken to the doctor yet today,” said Sundin after missing the Canuck practice Monday, he believed to have either a groin or hip problem. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”
Given Vancouver is up 3-0 in the series, it’s unlikely he’ll play Tuesday night, for if Vancouver win they will free up at least another week for him to rest whatever ails him to get him ready for the next series
continue for more on the Canucks and Blues…
from Jeff Gordon of the Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It’s over now. This was the Note’s chance to get back into the series and the home team failed.
The Blues didn’t get their must-have game. They took a good run at it, but fell short.
Now they will be relegated to playing for pride in Game 4. Now they will be fending off an embarrassing sweep on their home ice.
After entering the NHL playoffs as one of the NHL’s hottest teams, this is not the scenario they envisioned. But it is what it is.
The Canucks are the more experienced and more talented team (even with Mats Sundin sidelined) and the Blues couldn’t knock them off their game.
I understand the excitement for your first home playoff game in a few years, but booing ‘O Canada’ is just not cool.
No reason for it. End of story!
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Luongo has stopped 55 of 56 shots in this series, and if you include Vancouver’s final three regular-season games, he’s allowed only two goals in the last 145 shots fired at him. When a goaltender is this bulletproof, he emboldens his entire team.
That’s why it was comical to see all of the Canucks’ posturing and taunting in the first two games, especially near the end of Game 2. The Canucks haven’t outplayed the Blues; the Canucks just happen to employ the world’s hottest goaltender at the moment. And they’re riding him. Basking in his glory.
That’s the unfortunate part of this match-up from a St. Louis perspective: in Round 1, the Blues came up against an opponent that’s just as hot as they were. And that team, Vancouver, has the one NHL goalie sizzling at a higher temperature than the Blues’ Chris Mason.
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
When he came off the ice (after the morning skate), Kariya was asked if he’d be in the lineup to help the Blues who had only one goal in the first two games, said, “We’ll see.”
Not, “No way.” Not, “Maybe.”
So a question was posed to St. Louis coach Andy Murray: What does it say to you if Paul Kariya says, “We’ll see.”
The coach got a big smile on his face and didn’t hesitate in saying, “If Paul tells me he can play ... he’s in.”
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
St. Louis Blues’ coach Andy Murray had every right to be furious at the end of Friday’s 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks; it appeared the actions of his player would cost Murray $10,000.
When Brandon Crombeen dropped his gloves at the final horn and attacked Kevin Bieksa after the Canuck defenceman cheaply tripped up the Blues’ winger, he could have been assessed an instigator penalty, which in the last five minutes of a game carries an automatic suspension for the offender and $10,000 fine for his coach.
Instead, referees Chris Rooney and Brad Watson assessed only a double-minor for roughing against Crombeen, which means he’ll be playing in Sunday’s Game 3 that St. Louis must win to stay in the first-round playoff series. Bieksa was penalized for tripping, and there was a secondary altercation between Canuck Steve Bernier and Blue Barret Jackman that drew fighting majors.
from Jeff Gordon of The Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It’ll be tough for the Blues from here on out. They needed to win a game at Vancouver to have a realistic chance in this series, but they lost both.
The Canucks prevailed 3-0 Friday night, scoring a couple of classic playoff goals (Mats Sundin and Alex Burrows) plus an empty netter (Henrik Sedin). Chris Mason played well for the Blues, but not well enough.
Vancouver goaltender Robert Luongo was remarkable, robbing David Backes and Andy McDonald with especially outrageous saves….
An inch here, a bounce there and the Blues could have won this game and pulled dead even in this series. They put together offensive flurries in this games, as did the Canucks.
The Blues did a great job on faceoffs in key situations. That helped, but not enough.
The Blues frustration boiled over at the end, when the Blues dropped their gloves and got busy. The game ended with a major fracas.
Such is the nature of playoff hockey.
read on and below, watch the scrap at the end of the game…
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.
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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