Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
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.
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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