Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,
Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has hardly been under siege in the Chicago Blackhawks NHL playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.
Four games into the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, he’s faced only 83 shots. That’s good news for both him and the Blackhawks because his save percentage is a dismal .867. Imagine if the Canucks actually tested him 35 times in a game. Even 30….
They understand they’ll have to be vastly improved in the shot department if they intend to prevail in tonight’s pivotal Game 5. The series is tied 2-2.
“Chicago is a pretty good group and they play smart defensively,” Canucks winger Alex Burrows said yesterday. “They always have three guys in the neutral zone and they have good backside pressure. Once we get the puck deep, their defencemen are able to skate it and move it.
“I think we have to have that shooting mentality. That’s how you’re successful in playoffs.”
Easy question tonight- Who wins?
from Derek Jory of VancouverCanucks.com,
You know the guys I’m talking about. The ones so into the game they hoot and holler regardless of the score and have some kind of extreme noisemaker with them that keeps things interesting.
In this instance it was a Second World War Chema siren and its alarming sound jolted a whack of energy into the Pacific Coliseum and led the Canucks to a 6-3 win over the visiting Boston Bruins the first time Wideski and Grant tested it out.
The stirring siren, which a buddy of theirs had picked up at a swap meet, also caused a face-to-face meeting with then Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths.
“When we were cranking it at the game security showed up and we thought we were getting kicked out,” recalled Wideski. “Instead we met Arthur and he gave us tickets for that season and for the next couple years to keep coming to the games with the siren.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Here’s the thing about trying to win a Stanley Cup playoff game 1-0.
You can string four men across the blueline and choke the life out of the other team’s attack.
You can make high-percentage plays and manage the puck until you’re blue in the face.
If you follow your game plan, you can even succeed in anesthetizing 22,682 frenzied Chicagoans in the city’s most important game in a decade.
But there’s also a flip side to playing anti-hockey.
If you’re playing the game in your end, if you’re constantly surrendering possession of the puck without attempting to mount an attack, you’re playing with fire and, against a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, you will be burned.
from Eric Dutaschek of the Globe and Mail,
This is how quickly things can change in the NHL playoffs, when the quick-strike Chicago Blackhawks are in the building.
For the better part of 57 minutes last night, the Blackhawks looked as if they’d dug themselves into a black scoring hole.
They fell behind by a goal to the Vancouver Canucks, couldn’t seem to get it back, and were in danger of dropping consecutive home playoff games at the United Center, where they’d excelled this NHL season.
But these Blackhawks have been nothing if not resilient in these playoffs — overcoming deficits, large and small throughout — and they demonstrated that capacity again last night, essentially saving their playoff lives with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the visiting Canucks.
added 1:09am, from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
But like they have all along in their thrill-a-minute postseason, Martin Havlat forced overtime—and ignited a United Center crowd that sat on their hands all night—with a wrist shot from the high slot that handcuffed Luongo.
“We’ve got a new series,” said Havlat, who scored his fourth of the playoffs.
“Whoa,” Hawks GM Dale Tallon told ESPN.com in the home dressing room, holding his chest. “I thought my ticker was going to go. These kids never give up. They’re a resilient bunch.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Altogether, Vancouver has a 7-0 cumulative scoring edge in the first 30 minutes of the first three games, heading into Wednesday’s pivotal fourth game, with the Canucks ahead in the series 2-1. The Blackhawks understand they’ve been playing with fire too long and need to do a better job off the start tonight, or else risking falling behind by two games, and leaving the Canucks with three chances to wrap it up, two at home.
“The starts are critical in the outcomes of games. You can’t expect to come back from 2-0 and 3-0 every night and win hockey games,” said Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville. “It’s not the recipe for success, whether you have an older team or a younger team. Getting off on the right foot and staying out of the penalty box is what we’re going to stress - and coming with more energy at the start.”
“We’ll try to get a lead,” assessed the Blackhawks’ chatty centre Adam Burish. “Then guys will settle down and relax and play the right way. Playing from behind like we have been, you’re having to force and having to create.
Will the Ducks and/or the Canucks go up 3-1 tonight?
from Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star,
In the United Center crowd the other night, a couple of intrepid fans – crashing the Blackhawks’ party – were seen hoisting Roberto Luongo-cum-Jesus Christ posters.
Informed about this, the Vancouver goaltender lifts his eyes upward in an altogether doleful Messianic expression. “Must be because of my looks, not because of my play.”
Well, there is that.
It is perhaps to Luongo’s misfortune that he does so eerily resemble Christ, at least as portrayed by artists through the ages: the long, mournful face, the dark shoulder-length tresses, an appearance of suffering. A Vancouver artist actually rendered Luongo-as-Christ in a painting this year, which was not well received by serious religionists.
The flip side is a hint of satanic features in the visage, a bit of Charles Manson.
As saviour, however, the metaphor is rich.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Many of us are defined by the work we do, and Taylor Pyatt of the Vancouver Canucks counts himself in that group as well. Pyatt was back at work for the first time in a month on Tuesday — and it was exactly the right thing to do at this moment of his young life.
Pyatt lost his fiancée, Carly Bragnalo, just over a month ago to a traffic accident in Jamaica, where she was vacationing. It was a tragedy that turned his life upside down.
“For the first few days, I wasn’t sure if I would even get back on skates this season,” Pyatt said yesterday after the Canucks’ practice. “As time passed by and the weeks went by, and I got back to Vancouver, I just took it one step at a time.”
via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Finnish blueliner Sami Salo made himself available to the media and he may have delivered the line of the playoffs.
When pressed by a Chicago reporter to reveal the nature of his injury, whether it was a groin or an ankle or a knee, Salo didn’t miss a beat.
“Maybe it’s just a burning sensation when you pee. You never know,” Salo said as the scrum exploded into laughter.
OK, so he remains day to day with the undisclosed injury. Is there a chance he’ll play Thursday in Game 4?
“There’s always a chance for anything,” said Salo. “We’ll see how it is tomorrow and go from there. The good thing is that it’s been getting better every day and that’s a positive thing.”
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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