Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Patterson of TSN,
So this much is clear: the series is tied -- and the series is on. Oh, it’s on alright. Friday’s late-game fireworks at Rogers Arena signalled the return of the rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. How any of the five-on-five brawl carries over as the scene shifts to the Saddledome on Sunday remains to be seen, but there is no question that a healthy amount of dislike has been introduced into this Western Canadian showdown. And that’s exactly as it should be at this time of the year, especially between two long-time rivals.
Coming into the series, much was made of the high-end youth on the Calgary Flames – Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and 18-year-old Sam Bennett, but through the first two games of the series, it’s Canucks' prize rookie Bo Horvat who has set the bar for the first-time playoff participants. Horvat nearly blew the roof off Rogers Arena with an electrifying first period end-to-end dash that resulted in a Dennis Wideman delay of game penalty for knocking the puck out of play. The Canucks scored on the ensuing power play to take a 2-0 lead. Horvat later fed fellow freshman, Ronalds Kenins, for the 3-0 goal early in the third period to give the Canucks some breathing room. Horvat, who turned 20 earlier this month, has a point in each of his first two Stanley Cup playoff appearances and sits atop the Canucks post-season scoring derby at this early stage of the proceedings.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Bob Hartley, who has a knack of making the story about him even after his team has been drilled like a molar, tried to turn the after-conversation into what happened in the last minute of Game 2 instead of what happened in the first 59 minutes.
But after all the he-said, she-said this one was pretty simple. In a comprehensive beat down, the Vancouver Canucks evened their opening round series with the Calgary Flames 1-1, setting the stage for the long and fierce battle which was predicted all along.
Sure the other stuff is entertaining.
But, in the final analysis, it's mostly meaningless.
"Regardless of what people are talking about, we got a big win tonight," said Kevin Bieksa. "We got a win where we felt like we outplayed them for the whole game."
Below is an extended version of the line brawl between Calgary and Vancouver...
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Vancouver Canucks aren’t particularly interested in revisiting their recent playoff history, and maybe that’s understandable because, since Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, this team has been to the playoffs what Ponzi was to investment banking.
But it’s there and, like that big red zit in the middle of your forehead, it’s hard to ignore. Following their 2-1 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, the Canucks are now 1-11 in their last 12 playoff games, including seven straight losses on home ice and, like it or not, that record has become a talking point in this series.
For Willie Desjardins’s team, the loss in Game 1 was disturbing on a number of levels, but this might have been the most disturbing development. They’ve now invited unwanted questions into the conversation about their makeup and their core group, and those questions won’t disappear because they don’t feel like answering them.
“We’re a different team,” said Henrik Sedin. “I don’t think we were as sharp and focused (in their ignominious 2012 and 2013 playoff losses to L.A. and San Jose) as we are now. We’ve got a different feeling this year. We’re fresh, we’re focused, we’re confident. It feels more like we’ve got everything to win.”
Then why did Wednesday night look so depressingly familiar?
from Eric Duhatshek of the Globe and Mail,
Calgary’s fortunes will depend heavily on how they handle the Canucks’ dynamic offensive duo of Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
“Year after year, they’re very offensively powered,” Flames forward Mason Raymond said of the Sedins, with whom he played for the first six years of his NHL career. “The power play is definitely where they do a lot of their work, but all over the ice, they can be dangerous, so you’ve got to be aware of them, and make their lives as miserable as possible.”
With team captain Mark Giordano still out indefinitely because of a biceps tendon injury, it will fall to Calgary’s shutdown defence pair of Dennis Wideman and Russell to neutralize the Sedins.
Hartley put Wideman and Russell together as a defensive pair in the third game of the regular season and they’ve been lights-out good for Calgary ever since, developing the sort of chemistry that matters as much – or more – to defence pairs as it does to forward lines.
“With us, with D pairs, you have to know what the other guy is going to do and where he’s going to be, especially if you’re under pressure with the fore-check,” said Wideman, who has previously played in 44 NHL playoff games. “A lot of times, I know where Russ is or where he’s going to be, so I can just put a puck there and have confidence that he’s going to get it out, or make a play.”
Young teams that make playoff breakthroughs often falter in the opening round. On the night the Flames eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention, Kings captain Dustin Brown compared the Flames to last year’s Colorado Avalanche, a team that unexpectedly won the tough Central Division, but couldn’t carry regular-season success into the playoffs.
Where you won’t get great Canucks coverage? Sportsnet.
Yep the “national” sports network that has bought everything with an NHL logo on it, last night had 2 stories on the Canucks on their homepage. That’s the Canucks who, you know, are in the playoffs.
They had 12 stories on the Leafs, who aren’t in the playoffs: Kessel, Phaneuf can see writing on the wall; Shanahan Charts his own Course for Leafs; Possible Candidates for Leafs GM; Leafs hoping for Better Days After Rough Season; More Changes Coming for Maple Leafs; Shanahan, Vision Same for Leafs as it is 29 Other Teams; Toronto Wants to Give Resilient Fans What They Deserve; Gardiner Defends Phaneuf’s Captaincy; Shanahan: Sunday’s Changes Just the Beginning; Kessel: Firings Fall Back on Players and Maple Leafs Hit Reset.
-Paul Chapman of The Morning Skate at the Vancouver Province where you can read more on the Canucks.
from Ian McIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
We always believed Jim Benning when he said the Vancouver Canucks could be a playoff team this season. But we were skeptical, until now, about the addendum to the general manager’s claim: that once in the National Hockey League playoffs, the Canucks might actually win.
Six nights from the start of the Stanley Cup tournament, we can’t find a daunting potential opponent for the Canucks in the Western Conference. All are good. None are invincible.
The Canucks are 2-1 this season against the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-0 against the St. Louis Blues. They’re 2-1-2 against the Anaheim Ducks, 2-2 against the Calgary Flames. Their only wins against the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild were the most recent games against them. The Canucks’ only loss to the Winnipeg Jets was last week.
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have signed forward Derek Dorsett to a four-year contract and defenceman Luca Sbisa to three-year contract.
“Derek has been an incredibly valuable member of the Canucks roster, both on and off the ice this year,” said Vancouver Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning. “His willingness to chip in both offensively and defensively while standing up for his teammates at all times has been instrumental to our success all season.”
“Luca has been a big part of our backend all season, logging big minutes during key stretches and doing anything that is asked of him by our coaching staff,” continued Benning. “We are excited to have both Derek and Luca in the fold moving forward to continue our goal of winning today, while also having an eye to the future.”
Watch as Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa delivers a blow to the head of winger Viktor Stalberg from the Nashville Predators.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just when you start to believe a little more in the Vancouver Canucks after some stretches that impress you, they give you the other side of the coin and do something like lose back-to-back home games to the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Vancouver sits at 91 points and has a tenuous hold on the No. 2 spot in the Pacific Division, followed by Calgary (89 points, winners at Nashville on Sunday), and hard-charging L.A. (88 points).
Winnipeg (90 points) also figures in when it comes to the wild-card race, but we know for a fact two teams from that the Pacific trio of the Canucks, Flames and Kings will end up in the playoffs.
Here's the daunting reality for the Canucks, though: they are heading on the road for a four-game trek through St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago and Winnipeg. Now, the Canucks' 22-12-3 road record suggests they can play well away from home, but the chips are really down now. This trip will make or break their season.
read more NHL topics fromt the ESPN hockey writers...
from Tal Pinchevsky at ESPN,
Midway through a physical 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack was beckoned to center ice by opposing goaltender Jonathan Quick, who had just ignited a skirmish by throwing two right hands at Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. Lack made it only as far as his own red line, offering a sensible explanation after the game.
"I may have a reach [advantage on Quick]," the 6-foot-4 Lack joked. "I think he's a little meaner than me."
It was a classic moment of levity after a big win for the affable Swede. In a season that has seen Lack, 27, emerge as a force in the Vancouver crease, his teammates have used all kinds of words to describe the quirky goaltender. But "mean" definitely isn't one of them.
"He's goofy," Canucks winger Nick Bonino said in describing Lack.
"Easy going, fun loving, always happy," teammate Chris Higgins said. "Almost to a fault sometimes."
"I would say he's one of those interesting goalies," forward Radim Vrbata added.
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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