Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post,
And now, there’s tension.
A joyous, breezy Washington Capitals season finally succumbed to the playoff strain Friday night at Verizon Center. Leading Philadelphia three games to one in this first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, the best team in hockey returned home for a closeout game, turned in a performance worthy of series-clinching victory and somehow still lost. The Capitals lost in a most mystifying and unreasonable manner, a cruel result that hockey sometimes delivers at random.
For a franchise that has a long and painful history of struggling in these moments, this was a torturous way to apply pressure. It’s one thing to choke. It’s another to be tagged by bad luck. After a star-crossed 2-0 loss to the Flyers in Game 5, what was a 3-0 series lead has melted down to 3-2. A potential short series is now a long and taxing one. On Sunday, the Flyers return to Philadelphia for Game 6 with a chance to tie the series and extend it to a full seven games. You can feel Washington’s pressure swelling.
Game highlights are below...
NEW YORK (April 22, 2016) – The National Hockey League today announced that the start time for Game 6 of the First Round series between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers has been set for Noon ET on Sunday, April 24, in Philadelphia. In the U.S., the game will be broadcast exclusively on NBC. In Canada, the game will be on CBC and TVA Sports.
Start times for the remainder of Sunday’s schedule will be announced when available.
Bothe get five for fighting.
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Alex Ovechkin didn’t mince words Friday.
“It’s all about us right now,” the Washington Capitals captain said after his team had a brisk, all-business morning skate at the Kettler Iceplex.
“We control our destiny. We have to play hard, play simple and play smart. We have to dictate how we play, not them.”
Them, of course, is the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers nudged the door open in the Eastern Conference first-round series when they won Game 4 to avoid being eliminated. The Capitals would rather treat the Flyers like unwanted guests in Game 5 Friday night at the Verizon Center and send them on their way.
A victory and the Caps would win the best-of-seven in five games and get some down time before playing the Pittbsburgh Penguins or the New York Rangers in the second round; a loss and it’s back to Philadelphia for Game 6 Sunday.
from John Smallwood of hte Philadelphia Daily News,
Much of the hole they had dug for themselves had nothing to do with Steve Mason. When a team has been outscored 12-2, it's because nobody has played well.
Changing a goalie, however, is the most visible way to bring home the gravity of a situation - so Michal Neuvirth got the call in net for the Flyers.
"I think it's a good time for a change for our team going into this game," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when announcing the switch after the morning skate on Wednesday. "I believe Nuevy is the guy who can go in for us in this situation and do a great job."
We'll never know how much of that Hakstol truly believed and how much was simply, what else was he supposed to say?
Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because Neuvirth was up to the task.
Starting for only the second time since his March 16 victory, Neuvirth made 31 saves as the Flyers staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
It was Neuvirth's first playoff victory since April 23, 2011.
Watch the game highlights below...
12:17 Philadelphia Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Check from Behind Major - 5 minutes, Served by Nick Cousins
12:17 Philadelphia Radko Gudas - Misconduct - 10 minutes
12:17 Philadelphia Ryan White - Misconduct - 10 minutes
12:17 Philadelphia Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Game Misconduct - 10 minutes
Ryan White on Brooks Orpik who needed help getting off the ice.
Below, Tom Wilson on Jakub Voracek...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
“You don’t want to go down 0-3,” Flyers forward Brayden Schenn said. “That’s no secret. If we win one, we are right back in it.
“It’s not going to help us at all to get frustrated and worry about having only one goal against them in two games.”
Braden Holtby has been nearly perfect in the Capitals net, stopping 60 of 61 shots on goal. Steve Mason has not been close to that for the Flyers and has allowed six goals on 54 shots through two games, including a 101-footer to Jason Chimera in Game 2.
There was no hesitation for Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and his staff in sticking with Mason.
“Easy decision,” Hakstol said. “Absolutely. He is a huge part of why we are playing in the playoffs.”
“I usually call always and they say we’re completely busy, I say, 'Okay, what about if I bring Alex Ovechkin?’ They say, ‘Alex Ovechkin? Okay, anytime.’ Then we get very nice table. It works everywhere. But he never uses his name. He never books the table, never calls to say it’s Alex Ovechkin. He try to stay away from his celebrity stuff or whatever, stay same like we are, like normal people, not feeling like superstar.”
-Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals. Much more on Ovechkin from Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated.
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
Wander into the Washington Capitals dressing room and ask about the watch Nicklas Backstrom received from Alex Ovechkin after the latter reached 500 goals and you won’t get a word about make or model. The Swede, whose years of deft passes are a major part of Ovechkin’s milestone, considers that personal info—and for him to dish words like he does pucks, the circumstances have to be right. But should one of his Caps teammates approach him and inquire about anything from on-ice systems to where the team should go to let loose, expect the unvarnished truth. “He’s not shy,” says Leif Boork, who coached Backstrom in Sweden. “He’s not shy at all. So don’t let yourself be fooled by the way he looks or acts.”
It’s easy to be duped into perceiving Backstrom as a guy who would never ruffle a feather. He’s the anti-Ovie in terms of attention-seeking and seems to be the only person in his orbit completely unbothered by the fact that he doesn’t receive full credit for the breadth of his abilities. His suggestions about where the Caps should go for a good time are always followed by: “But I’ll do whatever the boys want.”
And so many people genuinely like this guy that it’s hard to imagine he’s ever said a bad word about anybody.
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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