Kukla's Korner Hockey
Patrick Sharp with a gift.
added 8:57pm, NBC version is below...
The puck drops just after 8:00pm ET and is on NBC, CBC and TVA.
The series is tied 2-2 and after the game tonight, one team will be facing elimination in Game 6 on Monday night in Chicago.
I say the Bolts win tonight by at least two goals and your comments on the game will be gladly accepted.
from Joe Smith of Lightning Strikes,
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop participated in today's optional morning skate, but says it'll be an "extremely tough decision" whether he plays in tonight's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
Bishop, the team's MVP and backbone, wants to start, and says progress is being made in recovering from an undisclosed injury. But Bishop said "the line" is figuring out if he's healthy enough to be effective. Bishop said he'll talk with coach Jon Cooper and the trainers shortly and make a group decision.
How does Bishop make that call?
"I think it's just experience. You kind of know what you can do," Bishop said. "It's a really tough decision, at this time of year it's not about one person when you get this far, you don't want to hurt the team at all. It's been a long season, you got this far, don't want to hold back the team. It's an extremely tough decision."
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
There have been 49 recipients of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP since the award was first handed out in 1965.
A defenseman has won the Conn Smythe only nine times. But another may be joining that elite club this year.
While there’s still time for Tyler Johnson or Jonathan Toews to have a couple of impactful games before the end of the Stanley Cup finals to help their MVP case, it is hard not to view blueliners Victor Hedman and Duncan Keith as the front-runners right now.
"You look at their consistency from the start of the playoffs up until now, I mean, that’s probably the biggest thing for those two guys," Hall of Fame blueliner Al MacInnis, the 1989 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, told ESPN.com on Friday. "You could probably build the case for three or four players on each team, but you look at those two guys, you look at their level of play, you look at their consistency, you look at their matchups, the impact they’ve had on games. I think it would be tough to slide by those two names."
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
“I remember his first training camp with us last year. It’s pretty magical what he can do with the puck,” Tyler Johnson said. “You can tell he’s been working with (Pavel) Datsyuk pretty much all his entire career. For him to come over here and kind of teach us the little things about puck control, how you can slow down the tempo of the game a bit and play his style, I think a lot of guys learned from that.”
While Filppula has been pushed down in the pecking order by players such as Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Killorn, his defensive play still has given the Lightning value.
The two-way centre, who learned how to play the right way from Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg under coach Mike Babcock, allowed a struggling Stamkos to move over to the wing in these playoffs. And whether it is taking an important faceoff (his 52.8 per cent success rate is second only to Jonathan Toews’ 55.2 per cent), killing a penalty or protecting a lead in the final minute of a one-goal game, Filppula has Cooper’s trust in big moments.
“You look at the minutes and the situations he plays for us,” Cooper said. “He kills penalties, he takes the big draws, he plays in the power play, he plays in our top six. That goes down as one of those sneaky signings that people have already probably forgotten about.”
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,m
Welcome to the 2015 Stanley Cup final, otherwise known as a Tale of Two Coaches.
In the Tampa corner, you have the personable Cooper, 47, who rubs shoulders with Charles Barkley, had his group’s tab picked up by actor Vince Vaughn at a Chicago steak joint last weekend, and carries with him a swagger that makes you realize just how comfortable he is in his own skin.
Quenneville, 56, is too, but in a far different way. A far nicer man than he gets credit for, especially behind the scenes, Coach Q, as some of the players call him, is far more no nonsense, a do-it-his-way-or-the-highway type who isn’t afraid to let his guys know if they aren’t performing up to par.
In that regard, both teams are reflections of their respective coaches.
The Lightning players are young, fast and, like Cooper, feel as if they can beat anyone.
Like Quenneville, the Hawks are battle-proven, determined, business-like and have established — thanks to Cups in 2010 and 13 — that they’ve already beaten anyone and everyone.
Up until now.
Now comes the real litmus test, at least where these playoffs are concerned.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The numbers are eerie. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks seem like twinsies in this Stanley Cup final.
Two wins apiece, nine goals apiece, a three-shot difference in pucks on goal, an eight-shot difference in attempts. The same number of blocks. A save percentage just three-hundredths of a point apart.
We’ve had no overtime games thus far but it pretty much feels that way for all 60 minutes, like one goal is going to mean everything. This is the first Cup final to open with four one-goal games since a Montreal sweep of St. Louis in 1968. And that was a sweep where the verdict was pretty much expected, not an up-for-grabs affair like this one.
As we head to Game Five on Saturday in Amalie Arena, here’s the stat I still can’t over: Through 240 minutes over four games, the score has either been tied or a one-goal differential for every second. Another one-goal result, guaranteed if we get our long-overdue first OT, will mark the first time all five games have been that tight since 1951.
At this point, little things become big things.
Lightning head coach Jon Cooper tells Millard and Shannon that he’s enjoying every bit of his team’s phenomenal run to the Stanley Cup Final, talks about the status of Ben Bishop, and how he uses his skills as a lawyer to his advantage.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
It was one brief shift in the second period of Game 4, but noteworthy nonetheless, when Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos skated with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.
We have become so accustomed to seeing Tampa Bay’s vaunted "Triplets" line -- Palat, Johnson and Nikita Kucherov -- that it’s odd when someone else makes an appearance on that line, even if only for a brief cameo.
That’s because the three players, similar in both size and stature, have combined to form one of the most explosive, dynamic lines in hockey. Johnson, the catalyst of the trio, leads the league with 13 playoff goals (and 23 points even though he has been held to two points in the Cup finals). Kucherov is not far behind, second in both categories with 10 goals and 22 points. Palat has eight goals and 16 points.
The chemistry among them is so fine-tuned that they know each other’s tendencies and can anticipate each movement. They all speak different native languages -- Johnson hails from Spokane, Washington, Palat from Feydek-Mistek, Czech Republic, and Kucherov from Moscow, Russia -- but are bound by the puck that toggles between their sticks.
That is, indeed, the genesis of the nickname.
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
What is Bishop's mystery injury? NHL Network analyst Martin Biron, a former NHL goalie, calls it "The Curious Case of Benjamin Bishop." Former Lightning goalie and current NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes believes it's a groin injury, judging by how Bishop is distributing his weight and moving side to side when he's on the ice. Longtime Lightning color analyst Bobby Taylor, another former NHL goalie, thinks it's a knee or a hamstring injury because Bishop struggles mostly to get up and down. Others suggest its a hip.
Whatever the injury, it's the hottest topic in the Stanley Cup final, and the Lightning's most pressing issue. Bishop is hardly the first to play hurt. Even teammate Tyler Johnson is unable to take faceoffs due to an undisclosed injury.
But that Bishop so visibly labored in a gutsy 36-save performance in a Game 3 win Monday, and that coach Jon Cooper said after Game 4 that he expected Bishop to play again in this series, the injury has made a particular impression on many.
"I know a lot of us have been hurt and played hurt, and in some cases played injured," said Weekes, who spent 11 seasons in the league. "But I don't recall ever seeing it that physically apparent. It's incredible. It's almost like Willis Reed with the Knicks, playing on one leg. It's beyond amazing."
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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