Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
History is always part of the lure – and the lore – of the Stanley Cup chase and the Chicago Blackhawks were of a mind to make a little history Monday night.
It had been 77 years since the Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup on home ice. Bill Stewart coached the ’38 Hawks and the circumstances of the victory were utterly peculiar – a below .500 team catching fire at the right time, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the best-of-five final, Carl Voss scoring the game-winning goal. Anachronistically/intelligently, the playoffs ended on Apr. 3.
But on a rainy night in Illinois, when the weather made the streets so impassable that the Stanley Cup barely arrived in time for the ceremony, the Blackhawks rewarded their revived, energized fan base at the United Center (aka The Madhouse on Madison) Monday night, shutting out the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 to capture their third Stanley Cup in six years.
After previously winning as the visiting team in Philadelphia (2010) and Boston (2013), Chicago eked out a close, hard-fought six-game series win in statistically, the closest Stanley Cup final in history.
It wasn’t always entertaining, and the goals were especially hard to come by in the latter stages of the series, but in the end, the Blackhawks weren’t looking to make an aesthetic statement.
Greedily, they were just looking for another ring.
Puck drops on Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final just after 8:00pm ET on NBC, CBC and TVA.
I predicted Tampa in seven but a very tough game tonight for the Bolts.
The Blackhawks want to celebrate a Cup win on home ice, will they?
Feel free to discuss the game as it plays out.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The order was placed the morning after the Blackhawks clinched a trip to the final. The hats and T-shirts have been kept under lock and key ever since.
On Monday night, we may finally get to see the final product: “Chicago Blackhawks, 2015 Stanley Cup champions.”
When a team lifts the Cup, the official championship gear always seems to appear out of thin air. But it is actually the product of months of planning and an intricate — not to mention sensitive — set of logistics designed to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The biggest concern is keeping the losing team’s “championship” apparel from entering the public realm. Hats, T-shirts and towels were also produced before this series with a Tampa Bay Lightning logo on them, but the earliest they can get unpacked is after a potential Game 7 on Wednesday.
In the event they lose another game, fans won’t ever get a glimpse.
A few, quick interviews after Tampa's morning skate.
via NBC Sports Group press release,
Following are quotes from Emmy Award-winning Inside-the-Glass analyst Pierre McGuire previewing tonight’s Game 6, discussing how the Blackhawks have moved within one win of their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, as well the high level of play in this year’s Final.
McGuire on high level of play in Lightning-Blackhawks Final: “The pace of this series has been frenetic. It’s been phenomenal. Both teams should be extremely proud of where they are right now and how well they’ve played, because there haven’t been any bad performances from either team.”
McGuire on impact of Blackhawks’ experience in Games 4 and 5: “There’s no question that their experience came to the forefront in Game 4, especially at the end when Tampa was putting on the full-court press. Chicago found a way to maintain their composure. Game 5 was their best start, and that’s where that experience comes in. They built off of that momentum in Game 4. This team knows how to win. Through all of the years together, they understand how to do it.”
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
"It's a chance for this organization to do something special," Kane said after today's morning skate in the United Center. "It's one of things where you're tossing and turning, your mind is racing. At this time of year, everybody is thinking about what's going to happen. The best thing is go out and play, let your mind rest."
Easier said than done. Kane said Chicago players talked about all the distractions surrounding this game when they met here yesterday and took care of families, tickets and the like on Sunday. Today is all business.
"We know this is the game we could win the Cup and it would be special to win it here at home," Kane said. "But let's focus on winning one hockey game and all the other storylines will stick out."
But Kane admitted that's no small task.
"It's tough to put your mind off that and think about other things that don't include the end result of winning here tonight. It's going to be in your mind no matter what," he said. "When you're away from the rink, you try to shut your mind off and try not to worry about everything that could happen. When you get to rink, turn it back on and try to get yourself as ready as possible. It's a great situation to be in. We'd rather be in this situation having our minds racing and thinking about all the things that can happen tonight than not. It's a pretty fun day."
from Jonathan Willis of Sportsnet,
In a span of just four years, Yzerman dismantled the team. Thirteen of 14 forwards who appeared in the post-season were sent away with only a then-21-year-old Steven Stamkos spared. A similar fate was visited upon the back end with 7-of-8 defencemen and both goalies were axed with 20-year-old Victor Hedman the sole survivor.
Hedman and Stamkos is an awfully nice starting point. A lot of teams would consider themselves lucky to be starting out of the gates with a franchise centre and a franchise defenceman, plus the rest of the talent that Yzerman had as trade bait. Yzerman continued to look for ways to improve going through an aggressive search for talent.
Al Murray, a scouting director with the Los Angeles Kings, was brought in to run Tampa Bay’s draft efforts in August 2010. In his first draft, the Lightning had just two picks in the top-100 and six picks overall, but Murray found four players on the team today, including Vladislav Namestnikov (first round), wingers Nikita Kucherov (second round) and Ondrej Palat (seventh round) and defenceman Nikita Nesterov (fifth round). Six players in all on the 2015 Lightning are Murray picks, including Cedric Paquette (fourth round).
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Five keys for the Tampa Bay Lightning to win Monday night and extend the Stanley Cup finals to a seventh and deciding game:
1. Get a goal from Steven Stamkos: With Tyler Johnson ailing and Nikita Kucherov's status unknown after his Game 5 injury, the Triplets are in peril. All of which puts even more emphasis on the Lightning captain to light the lamp for the first time in these Cup finals. It’s unfair to put so much on Stamkos' shoulders, but the big stars have to show up when the chips are down. Stamkos was terrific in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers, scoring some big goals and playing a physical brand of hockey. The summer will be a long one for him if he can’t score a goal in the finals. Credit Stamkos for pointing to himself after Game 5. "It starts with me," he said of his team’s need to score goals.
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
Having reduced pivotal Game 5 to slapstick (“It’s the ‘Benny and Heddy Show’!”) the madcap Lightning have safely returned to their comfort zone: The Land of No Tomorrow.
They’re where they love to be, need to be, apparently, everyone doubting them, wondering how they ever got this far. It’s their sweet spot.
Let’s not get sucked in again.
Don’t count them out.
They’re in Chicago for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks are a win from the Cup. They haven’t lifted Stanley on home ice since 1938. Their city is bracing for a party, a riot, something.
Don’t count out the Lightning. They’ve earned the firm right to not be buried before their time.
Remember when we waved goodbye to this season when they headed to Detroit for Game 6 of that opening series. Seems like two years ago. They were good and done after blowing Game 5 at home.
Only the Lightning weren’t done.
Remember when they lost Game 6 in the Eastern Conference finals, again at home? They had to go to Madison Square Garden for Game 7, where the Rangers always win Game 7s.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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