Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Steven Stamkos says he can barely remember when the playoffs began some 62 days ago, never mind the start of the regular season.
But the Tampa Bay Lightning captain is well aware of what remains on the NHL schedule and he’s determined to take it to completion.
“There’s no excuses for our group, we’re here,” Stamkos said late Sunday afternoon after his team breezed into the Windy City focused on extending the Stanley Cup final to a seventh game.
“There’s two games scheduled left in the season. We can be apart of that. That’s the mentality we have.”
If they feel like a boxer on the ropes trailing the best-of-seven final 3-2 and heading into what will be one of the more electric buildings in NHL history with the Blackhawks a win away from the Cup, the Lightning aren’t showing it.
But they are not without worry, given that they have scored just two goals in the last two games, may be without their second leading scorer, Nikita Kucherov, and have seen the early playoff magic of unheralded Tyler Johnson start to fade.
So, naturally, the attention shifts to Stamkos, the team leader and a former 60-goal scorer who has yet to beat Chicago netminder Corey Crawford in this series.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The Blackhawks have seen enough of Tampa.
They have no interest in returning to the humidity, the electric lightshow inside Amalie Arena, and the horde of characters — Stars Wars stormtroopers, Game of Thrones barbarians, anime creatures — flowing through the Tampa Convention Center two blocks from the rink. It is hard to tell which group looks more peculiar: the costumed crowd at Metrocon, Tampa’s anime convention, or the bearded bunch of tired and angry men doing battle on the ice.
On Monday, the Blackhawks would be quite happy to share the Stanley Cup with their fans at the United Center. It would be their third Cup in six years and first on home ice. The Lightning, meanwhile, want no part of participating in the crowning of a dynasty.
“It’s not just another game, but that’s the way we’ve got to try to approach it,” said Brent Seabrook, one of Chicago’s core players. “It’s a huge game.”
With one more win, whether it’s on Monday or in Game 7 Wednesday, the Blackhawks will claim the title of the best team in the post-2005 lockout era. They’ve advanced to this point by being the organization of the future — fast, skilled, deep, and overwhelming.
They control the game. They do not chase it.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
The league’s most productive line of Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Kucherov, a powerhouse trio that has carried this Lightning team at times during the postseason, is limping to the finish line. The attrition of playoff hockey is chipping away at three players who looked invincible at times during their incredible spring run.
Johnson leads the Stanley Cup playoffs with 23 points. Kucherov is second at 22, one more than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Palat’s well-rounded, 200-foot game that has shades of Marian Hossa has been the perfect compliment to those two.
Now, one loss from watching the Blackhawks raise the Stanley Cup, the Lightning might have to try rallying without their best line in tact. Kucherov played 1:17 before the collision with the post. That was all he’d play.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper anticipated a return from Kucherov that never came. Cooper said his talented Russian winger was to be evaluated after the game or sometime Sunday.
Cooper had no update on Kucherov's status.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Thanks to Vermette’s winning goal early in the third period of Chicago’s 2-1 victory over the host Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday in Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup final, the Hawks are now up 3-2 in the series.
More importantly, Chicago can now close things out on Monday night in Game 6 with a victory at the United Center, arguably the loudest building in hockey, if not in all of sports.
The Hawks Stanley Cup-clinching wins in both 2010 and 2013 came on the road, so their crazed fans did not have a chance to be on hand to see their hockey heroes raise the Stanley Cup.
They’ll have that opportunity now.
“(Since I’ve been here) we’ve never been in this spot before,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I’m sure the town will be crazy.
“The buzz will be off the charts.”
Flipping through the history books, the Hawks have not won the NHL title on home ice since 1938, a span of 77 years.
At that time, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president of the United States, William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada’s Prime Minister, Hank Greenberg led the majors in home runs with 58 and Mike Karakas was the goalie who led those Hawks to the Cup.
Now, almost eight full decades later, just thinking of how electric the always emotional national anthem will be at the United Center Monday is enough to send shivers up the spine of any player.
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
Dreams of capturing silver took on a tarnished feel for the Lightning.
Despite the return of goaltender Ben Bishop to the net, Tampa Bay’s offense again came up dry in a 2-1 loss to Chicago in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading into Game 6 in Chicago on Monday.
For just the second time this postseason Tampa Bay has dropped consecutive games and will need to avoid the first three-game losing streak of the season to force a decisive Game 7 back in Tampa on Wednesday.
Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning goal early in the third period to break a 1-1 tie as Corey Crawford made it stand up, finishing with 31 saves to help bring Chicago to the brink of winning a third Stanley Cup in a six-year span, and the chance to do it on home ice for the first time since 1938.
Bishop, a question mark to start the game after he missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, finished with 27 saves but his costly decision to come out to the circles to try to play a puck led to Chicago’s opening goal after he collided with teammate Victor Hedman allowing Patrick Sharp to skate in alone for an empty net goal at 6:11 of the first period.
“That’s the difference in the game,’’ Bishop said. “You obviously don’t want to make those mistakes at this stage of the game, but it happened and that’s unfortunate. The puck came off the boards there and I thought I could hit (Steven Stamkos), kind of made eye contact with him and Heddy didn’t see me, obviously. They were changing and I thought I could catch (Stamkos) up there. Maybe it was a little too far to venture but it’s just unfortunate we ran into each other.’’
Watch Sportsnet's Game 5 Mashup below...
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
We’re so eager to use the word “dynasty.” Too eager. Entering the Stanley Cup Final, some actually anointed the Tampa Bay Lightning as a potential dynasty, even though this group hadn’t won one championship, let alone two.
But here are the Chicago Blackhawks, one win from earning the title – or at least redefining it for the modern era. With a 2-1 victory Saturday night, they took a 3-2 series lead. They can win their third Cup in six years on Monday night in Chicago.
“We understand,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, “how unique this group is and how unique this chance is.”
No, the Blackhawks are not the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s. They are not the New York Islanders or Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.
But this is not the NHL of those days, either. This is the NHL of the salary cap, a league of parity – a league so competitive that the Blackhawks’ biggest foils, the Los Angeles Kings, winners of two of the past three Cups, didn’t even make the playoffs this season.
Watch Game 5 highlights below...
Patrick Sharp with a gift.
added 8:57pm, NBC version is below...
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org