Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy back in preseason said without any hesitation that he didn’t want his team to just grow into a contender but also to play a style of game that entertains its fans.
God bless him. It’s a mantra that clearly bucks the trend. But his team regressing so dramatically this season and missing the playoffs certainly didn’t help popularize his approach.
The Cup finals matchup absolutely can be not so much a sport-saving moment -- let’s not overstate things -- but perhaps a sport-healing series at least.
We are going the wrong direction as a sport. Five more games like Saturday night and the Bolts and Blackhawks will perhaps change some minds in a copycat league.
"To me, it's a speed sport," began Cooper on Sunday when I asked him for his organic philosophy on how he believes the game should be played. "These guys are phenomenal athletes. Ultimately, I coach games to win games. I guess there's different ways to do that. But we believe these guys have these abilities, why not take advantage of them?
"I'm a big believer in literally playing the whole game skating forwards. I think you can do that. So, if you can have it as much as you can, it's really tough for the other team to score."
As Mike Babcock and Team Canada proved in their keep-away clinic at the Sochi Olympics a year and a half ago, even low-scoring games can be incredibly entertaining if you’re doing it with all-world skill controlling the game.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
"This is where they've wanted to be all year," Toews said Sunday of the team's fanbase. "You see those signs: 'Bring back the Cup.' Everyone has been waiting for this moment."
But here's the problem with history: It doesn't forecast the future. So often we get locked in the idea that the past tells us what is coming next, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are now into their sixth week of proving otherwise.
Few in the wider context seem to think it's possible.
They are seemingly ignoring that this is the best Eastern Conference representative in the championship series for some time. The Lightning are young, and relatively inexperienced, but they are not just here to provide cannon fodder for Chicago's third Cup in six years.
"I feel like our team's been playing more mature than we necessarily (are)," said Valtteri Filppula.
The Finnish centre is the only player on the Lightning roster with a Stanley Cup ring. If they win this series, they'll be the least experienced champion since the 1989 Calgary Flames (coach Terry Crisp was the only prior winner with them).
This is where history comes in once again: How much does that matter?
from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,
... Two days after that loss, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper’s words at a press conference were pep rally-worthy.
“Unfortunately we dropped that game,’’ he said. “But if there’s one thing we learned, it’s that we know we belong.’’
There’s no reason to take that statement too far, to parse it for all its possible meanings and to make the leap that the Lightning have major questions about their place in the world. But it did make one pause. Not as much as Bruce Boudreau’s words did on the eve of Game 7 of the Western Conference final, when he said he wouldn’t be surprised if his Ducks fell behind 1-0 near the start of that contest. Way to set the tone, coach!
But Cooper’s words were odd coming from the coach of one of the two teams left standing in the Stanley Cup Final. They had the whiff of subservience to them. After three hard-fought series, the Lightning needed Game 1 to know they belonged on the ice with the Hawks?
Now, Cooper would surely argue that his team indeed showed no fear in bouncing back with a wild 4-3 victory Saturday night. But all of the Lightning’s public self-esteem exercises have felt a little over the top.
It’s hard to imagine the Hawks feeling the need to reassure anyone. They’ve seen everything there is to see, and they’ve done everything there is to do. They see Game 3 on the docket for Monday night at the United Center, and they know they’ve seen a lot of games just like this one. Tampa Bay has found ways to win games in the postseason, but nobody has figured out more ways to win important games than the Hawks have the past seven seasons.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The template for Brendan Shanahan is found right here — in the rosters, methods and good fortunes of the two-time Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and the building of an eventual champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.
They didn’t become contenders without first bottoming out, without cashing in on early draft picks, without utilizing their American Hockey League teams to develop talent, without strategically using free agency to finalize spots and touch up the roster and without patience.
Lots of patience.
“We didn’t really set a timeline on it,” said Steve Yzerman, general manager of the Lightning, talking about his five-year run on the job.
“I wouldn’t want to put myself in that position of a time-frame because then I’d be held to it.
“We just felt at the time we’re going to try to draft well, look to free agency where we can to try to expedite the process a little bit.
via NBC Sports Group release...
Last night’s Chicago Blackhawks-Tampa Bay Lightning contest on NBC, in which the Lightning won 4-3 to even the series at one game apiece, delivered a 4.8 metered market rating, making it NBC’s best Stanley Cup Final Game 2 overnight ever and best on broadcast television on record. It was up 5% vs. last year’s double overtime Game 2 (4.56, NYR-L.A.).
The game (7:15-10:15 p.m. ET), which immediately followed NBC Sports’ coverage of the Belmont Stakes, posted a 22.6 rating in Chicago and a 15.1 in Tampa. NBC was the No. 1 network in each market during the game.
Rounding out the Top 5 markets were Buffalo (8.6), Milwaukee (6.7) and Ft. Myers (6.5).
John Tortorella of ESPN discusses what could be a goalie problem for the Tampa Bay Lightning plus the outlook of the series moving forward.
from Mike Imrem of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Corey Crawford didn't single-handedly cost the Blackhawks Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Actually, a case could be made that Patrick Sharp did.
Sharp took consecutive penalties in the third period and the Lightning scored the winning goal on the second power play.
But Sharp doesn't play goalie, the most visible and scrutinized position in hockey and maybe in all of sports.
So the Crawford debate began again Saturday night after the Lightning's 4-3 victory that evened the series 1-1.
Crawford fueled some of it himself by saying, "You give up goals that shouldn't go in at this time of the season … it's pretty frustrating."
Tampa Bay, the NHL's highest-scoring team, did to Crawford what it has done to other goalies all postseason.
The Lightning have had trouble scoring in every Game 1 but exploded for a combined 21 goals in four Game 2s.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his players had to make a turnaround in 72 hours "and they did."
Kelly Hrudey of Sportsnet on Ben Bishop's injury and more on game 2 from the panelists.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"It’s not time to get frustrated, it’s not time to give up. You stay with it and eventually something clicks and when it does, it feels really good," Toews said in an almost jovial tone. "This is the time of year where you just empty the tank, throw everything you can at them. You just continue no matter what. You don’t make excuses. You don’t throw in the towel. You keep working for that offense. It comes at a price, too."
It’s hard not to believe him; he’s done it too many times not to.
Let’s give the Lightning a little credit here too, right? Tampa’s top defensive duo of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman has been downright awesome so far; which in part is why it might make sense to keep Toews and Kane apart from here on out to make that matchup more difficult for the Lightning. Cedric Paquette's checking line, which opened the scoring Saturday night, has also been good against Toews.
It’s the Cup finals, the competition is fierce. No one gets to go out there and own every shift like it’s a November night in Buffalo.
"They’re working hard, they’re playing good hockey, playing smart, defensive hockey," Toews answered when asked what the Bolts were doing to his line. "We just got to stay with it. I think Saad had a great chance 2-on-1 early in the game, I had a great chance where it bounced right off my stick -- great setup by Kaner -- so one of those go in, maybe you’re not sitting here asking those questions as much."
Watch Sportsnet's Game 2 Mashup 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.
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