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No Quit In The Calgary Flames

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

The laundry list of what the Flames need to do differently to compete with the Ducks does not require an advanced math degree. Defensively, they need to get better inside position on the Ducks’ forwards, who steamrolled their way to the net at will against Calgary’s smaller rearguards.

Offensively, they needed to get far more traffic in front of Ducks’ goaltender Frederik Andersen, who had a solid and efficient night in goal, but except for an early breakaway save against Josh Jooris, wasn’t tested much.

A superhuman effort from Ramo in goal wouldn’t hurt, either. The Flames were underdogs heading into the series and usually the underdog’s best chance occurs when a goaltender morphs into the second coming of Georges Vézina and just stops every puck.

Naturally, Ramo was excited to get his first-ever playoff start, after two consecutive appearances in relief of Jonas Hiller, noting that while the Ducks are “talented and skilled and not afraid to go the net … it’s still just a hockey game.”

Hartley was in there, promoting good cheer, the way he usually does.

“I can’t fault the effort on our team,” Hartley said. “Those guys, they always prepare well. They always go hard. Are we the perfect team? No, we’re still a young hockey club and we’re learning every time we step on the ice. That’s the way it is. Our players try to play the right way. Will we always have our execution as good as we like, or play our best game? No. But it’s a game of mistakes and those guys go through the wall for us.

“This team has no quit.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Chicago Blackhawks Know How To Win

from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,

What is it about the Hawks that makes them so resilient in close games? “Number one, it’s skill,” Yeo said. “And it’s the ability to finish on opportunities. You can chalk it up to a bounce or whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, you give them an opportunity and they can capitalize on it.

Yeo still seems to think his team controls its fate against a team that wills itself to victory almost out of habit. “When it comes down to it, it’s a matter of us getting better,” Yeo said, “just being a little more determined in certain situations and limiting a few more of those mistakes that they can capitalize on.”

As Blues coach Ken Hitchcock observed last year against the Hawks, it might not be that simple. “You’re trying to beat their resolve,” Hitchcock said. “You’re not trying to beat their skill. Everybody’s got skill. And it is one hell of a challenge.”

It remains to be seen if the Wild are up to that challenge.

“They’ve won two Cups, so they know what they can do,” Wild defenseman Marco Scandella said of the Hawks. “They have a good team. We just have to bring a lot of speed. We’ve got to be faster next game. It’s definitely one thing we’re going to bring next game that’s going to have an effect.”

Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. The Hawks are like a high-wire act working without a net in the playoffs — always at risk of a calamitous fall. In 24 of their last 27 playoff victories, they’ve had no more than a one-goal lead in the third period, including 19 times when they’ve been tied or were losing. In Game 1 against the Wild, they lost a three-goal lead in 8:09 and didn’t flinch.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Montreal Canadiens Need A Win Tonight

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in double overtime to the Bolts in Game 1 on Friday, the Habs cannot afford to head to Tampa for Game 3 on Wednesday trailing 2-0. Montreal has lost six straight to the Lightning and hasn’t beaten the Bolts since completing a four-game sweep in the playoffs last April.

Are the Habs worried? Not a chance. But you get a sense that if it doesn’t turn around in Game 2, their confidence could quickly turn to doubt.

“We did a lot of good things,” said coach Michel Therrien. “We had a really tough time during the regular season, we hadn’t played our best against Tampa Bay in the regular season for different reasons.

“But we all understand that, when you get to the playoffs, it’s a new season. Teams get a chance to get prepared. We know what we’re facing. Our focus is only on one game. And I think from the team’s standpoint, we did a lot of good things to be really upbeat and confident for (Game 2).”

Though Tampa goalie Ben Bishop didn’t look good when he allowed Habs winger Max Pacioretty to tie it up 1-1 at 14:57 of the third to send it OT by allowing the puck to slip through his glove, it didn’t matter in the end because Big Ben made 44 stops as Nikita Kucherov scored the winner.

Bishop has moved his record to 11-1-2 lifetime against the Habs (including the regular season and playoffs) with a 1.46 GAA and .945 save-percentage. Those are heady numbers, which means Montreal has to do a better job getting to him which they tried Friday by going to the net constantly.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Fixing The Power Plays

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

Two changes would make the power play more of a must-watch event than a two-minute window to scurry to the fridge. First, the shorthanded team would be penalized for icing the puck. It’s too easy for penalty killers to gain control of the puck and fling it 200 feet. It’s much harder to advance the puck properly out of the defensive zone.

This year, the USHL tried a two-game stint in which icing was called during power plays. Leaguewide, power play success was 22 percent during the two games, double the USHL’s 11 percent average in 2013-14. The NHL should advance this one step by calling an additional minor penalty if a shorthanded team ices the puck.

Second, the opening faceoff should be in the power-play team’s defensive zone. It would give the power play an opportunity to gain speed through the neutral zone, push back the penalty killers, and start the offensive-zone sequence with momentum.

The way it is now, it’s too easy for the shorthanded team to identify an upcoming play based simply on how the power-play team lines up for an offensive-zone drop. For example, if a right-shot center takes a faceoff at the left dot, it’s likely he’ll backhand the puck to a left-shot wing for a quick snapper on goal. Set plays are predictable. It’s not as easy to plan against five skaters barreling through the neutral zone.

These would be big changes. The NHL has the perfect test lab in the AHL to see how they’d work.

many more hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Steve Simmons Says

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- I figured Ken Hitchcock to be the perfect coach to bring structure to the Edmonton Oilers, until they won the Connor McDavid lottery. Now you want a coach who can bring structure to the Oilers AND develop a superstar. The job just got more complicated.

- Thomas Vanek, lousy in last year’s playoffs in Montreal, is goal-less this year in Minnesota.

- What if Steve Yzerman had chosen Seth Jones ahead of Jonathan Drouin in 2013 NHL draft? How much different would this very good Tampa Bay Lightning team look then?

You can’t call Drouin a bust yet — it’s still early and clearly there’s a lot of internal disagreement between where the player sees himself and how the Lightning views him. But Jones has been a ready-made NHL defenceman who keeps getting better.

Add him on a second pairing behind Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman and on the Tampa special teams and how much would the Lightning change in terms of talent and size?

more on the Drouin/Jones topic plus additional hockey notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Use The Video Review Process

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

There is no reason that another NHL playoff game should end with a goal scored following a missed offside call the way that Game 1 of the Tampa Bay-Montreal series did on Friday night.

Literally, there is no reason. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors must have the authority within its panoply of overreaching powers to institute immediate video review for, a) either every goal scored in the playoffs, or, b) if starting slowly is the idea, every overtime goal from now until the Stanley Cup is hoisted in June.

Yes, Plan B.

It always is interesting to note what embarrasses the league. When the powers-that-were-and-still-are didn’t care for Sean Avery’s antics in front of Martin Brodeur in Game 3 of the Rangers-Devils first round in 2008, the NHL invented a rule pretty much overnight to address the matter.

But a tainted overtime goal? Not so much.

continue plus addtional hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Video- Wow Alex Ovechkin

The Rangers did win 3-2 today to even the series at one, but what a goal from Alex Ovechkin to make the game close.



added 3:30pm, NBC version is below...

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Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin

Open Post- Today’s Stanley Cup Playoff Game

The Washington Capitals will try to go up 2-0 in their series with the New York Rangers.

Puck drops just after 12:30pm ET and is on NBC, Sportsnet and TVA.

Discuss the game if you wish.

added 5:46pm, In case you missed the game, a 3-2 NYR win, the highlights are below...

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No Script Needed

from Stan Fischler of the Daily Freeman,

It’s too bad that a Hollywood script writer wasn’t around to choreograph the Stanley Cup Playoffs now into the second round.

In the fantasy world of Tinseltown, the National Hockey League screenplay would have had the Islanders beating Washington last Monday night in D.C.

Had that once-plausible script become reality, The Greater New York Area would be going gaga (not as in Lady) over a New York-New York hockey rivalry which is as good as it ever could get.

But — as far as I know — we still live in a non-Warner Brothers real world, the Islanders are packing their way out of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum while the Rangers have resumed their quest for The Cup.

Actually, in their own star-spangled way the Capitals are a more Hollywood team than the Rangers.

When it comes to hockey’s marquee goal-scorer, Washington Alex Ovechkin not only holds center stage but covets the limelight like Justin Bieber.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

NHL Short Notes

Home Team in Caps
Tampa Bay 2, MONTREAL 1 (2OT) – TBL leads series 1-0
CHICAGO 4, Minnesota 3 – CHI leads series 1-0
Nikita Kucherov scored the decisive goal at 2:06 of double-overtime and Ben Bishopmade 43 saves, including 13 after regulation, to power the Lightning to a 1-0 series lead against the Canadiens.

* The Lightning improved to 10-7 in 17 all-time playoff overtime games, including a 9-3 record on the road. They have won both of their overtime contests this postseason, also in Game 4 of the FR at DET.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com


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