Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Herrmann of Newsday,
Now the Islanders are in a uniquely desperate situation, or desperately unique. Not only are they playing for the survival of their season, they have one game to keep Nassau Coliseum alive.
They have one last chance to give themselves more chances, one opportunity to avoid having the lights turned out forever on hockey in the only home they have ever known. If they want to seize on omens, they can look at the fact that they haven't been good at closing things out or shutting them down this postseason.
If they had been better at those skills, they would not find themselves down three games to two against the Capitals, heading into a possible elimination for themselves and their building Saturday. Looking back on it, they put themselves in this position well before the 5-1 loss in Game 5 Thursday night. They were up by two goals twice in Game 2 and let that slip away. They were up two games to one and couldn't build on it. They even jumped ahead 1-0 Thursday night.
from Dan Martin of the New York Post,
An already depleted Islanders defense was dealt another blow in the second period of Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals, when Lubomir Visnovsky had to leave the game after a crushing hit by Washington’s Tom Wilson.
Visnovsky didn’t return and the Islanders weren’t happy about the hit.
“He’s an idiot,” Kyle Okposo said of Wilson, who was hitting hard throughout the game and wound up being penalized twice nearly in succession in the second period. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
Coach Jack Capuano wasn’t pleased, either.
“From the bench, from my view, [Wilson] left his feet,” Capuano said.
continued and watch the hit below...
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Boychuk has been key in neutralizing Ovechkin and the Capitals' top line, containing the five-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner to just one goal in three games. Put plainly, the Islanders would not be up 2-1 in the series without his stellar play.
“You can see he’s played in a lot of playoff games -- his experience, his ability to contribute in all areas of the game and certainly playing a lot against [No.] 8,” Isles captain John Tavares said. “It’s a tough job, and he’s been doing a great job for us.”
Matching up against Ovechkin, who has also played the past two games with dynamic playmaking center Nicklas Backstrom, is a top assignment and a daunting one, but it’s also one Boychuk takes pride in doing.
After all, that’s why he’s here.
“It’s playoffs. You have to shut down the top line on the other team and the top players. If you don’t, you’re going to be going home,” Boychuk said. “And no one wants to go home.”
“We didn’t deserve it. What’d we have, 13 or 15 shots or whatever after two periods? That’s not going to get it done, even though we had the lead. We’ve got to put pucks on net, we’ve got to make their D turn, we’ve got to make their goalie work. You could see when we started doing some good things and played down low we got some offensive zone time, but too little too late.”
-Jack Capuano, head coach of the New York Islanders after a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. More on the game from Stephen Lorenzo of the NY Daily News.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
“The result is that we look like a slow team,” forward Brooks Laich said. “It has to get better.”
“If we turn the puck over against them, they’re really good in transition and they made us pay a few times,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
“We’re a quick team and we’re playing slow,” forward Troy Brouwer said. “Those types of frustration is what we’re not happy with.”
The Capitals had entered the playoffs preaching a “heavy” game built on pressuring forechecks and thundering hits, and instead the Islanders glided around them like red-sweatered cones. Their breakouts fizzled inside the neutral zone. Their passes sailed wide of their targets. On two occasions, ordinarily sure-handed skaters lost possession at the offensive blue line and forced themselves to regroup, without any opponents within striking distance.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
At the end of his first regular season atop the Washington Capitals’ front office, General Manager Brian MacLellan discussed the transformation that unfolded under his watch. Last summer, MacLellan was the surprise in-house successor to George McPhee, charged with reshaping a franchise that missed the postseason for the first time in seven years. His moves were minimal but calculated: hiring Coach Barry Trotz, three summer signings, two deadline trades. And in just his third interview session since the season began, MacLellan assessed the Metropolitan Division’s No. 2 seed, a team with home-ice advantage in the first round against the New York Islanders.
“Obviously it’s a noticeable difference in the way we play and the energy that’s brought in the room and on the ice,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch and develop throughout the year. I feel optimistic that it’s going to continue to move into the right direction and grateful that it’s happened.”
MacLellan echoed what several players have voiced in recent days: that the Capitals’ current style would lead to more postseason success. While serving as an assistant general manager, mostly in a professional scouting role, MacLellan watched Washington reach six straight postseasons but never advance beyond the second round.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We've all been fooled before by the regular-season Caps, who turned into pumpkins when midnight struck in the playoffs, but these guys look different this year.
"This is a different team than before," observed one NHL scout at Thursday’s game. "They’re more physical, they look heavier."
One Caps player quipped to me on the way out of the rink after Thursday's morning skate that people were sleeping on his team.
"We're going to surprise people in the playoffs," said the player,
Thing is, I’m not sure anyone is sleeping on the Caps. People are taking notice.
They are indeed a heavier team. These aren't your older cousin's Caps of yesteryear, when it was all about offense. This appears to be a team that can grind out a 2-1 game in the playoffs, something that was difficult for Washington teams of the past to figure out.
from Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post,
Alex Ovechkin is at it again. He scored his 52nd and 53rd goal of the season Thursday night, passing Peter Bondra to become the franchise’s all-time leader with 474 goals. He joins the Sharks’ Patrick Marleau and the Devils’ Patrik Elias as the only active career goal-scoring leaders for their current team.
It has been a record-setting season for the Russian superstar. Ovechkin became the sixth player in NHL history to reach the 50-goal plateau six times or more, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne. He is the fifth player to score at least 30 goals in each of his first 10 seasons. The others: Gretzky, Bossy, Mike Gartner and Jari Kurri. However, his goal-scoring peers played in a time when goal scoring was plentiful.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org