Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Challenge accepted by the resilient Rangers, who staved off elimination for the fourth time this spring and for the 15th time over the last four tournaments with Tuesday’s 7-3 Game 6 victory over the Lightning to set up yet another Game 7 at the Garden on Friday, winner getting to go to the Stanley Cup final.
Challenge accepted by Derick Brassard, who recorded a hat trick and five-point night following a morning meeting with Alain Vigneault in which the coach urged No. 16 and fellow 1A/1B center Derek Stepan to lift their respective games.
“I told them that we needed them to step up and be difference-makers,” the coach told The Post. “And they did, they both responded, they both came through with what we needed.
“Brass’ line was great.”
added 8:21am, from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Oh yes, Mr. Elimination Game was huge again. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 of 39 shots on the evening, his pad save on Stamkos in the first period an absolutely heart-stopper.
Just Hank being Hank, he now sports a ridiculous .954 save percentage in those 18 elimination games since 2012.
"Everything on the line again and we found a way," said Lundqvist. "I felt like we had a really tough time in the second to get pucks deep, and they're a really good team when you don't get the pucks in the right places. But then in the third, I think maybe our experience in these situations helped us, because we come out and play extremely well, a smart period until you get out of hand a little bit.
"It's such an important time right now, and for us to come through like this in a big game, it's always good for your confidence. It's a good feeling."
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
They keep finding ways to put their backs against the wall. The wall never seems that far away, does it? It’s a constant companion. The Lightning are infuriating that way. We can’t figure them out.
They might have backed into the wall one time too many, against the wrong customers.
It’s their own fault.
There will be a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite a great, gaping opportunity, the Lightning didn’t come close to closing out the New York Rangers in Game 6 at Amalie Arena. Note: The Rangers don’t like to be closed out. They blasted the Lightning, 7-3.
How do you roll out a miserable third period like that when you’re only one goal down and one win from the Stanley Cup finals?
Even with the Rangers practically playing ragged prevent through two periods, begging to be beaten, they led 2-1 heading to the third. Well, maybe the New York goaltender wasn’t begging to be beaten.
And when push came to shove, the Bolts were blown away.
Watch the game highlights below...
You would expect a college hockey team to protect itself against a coach potentially leaving for the NHL, but the University of North Dakota found a unique way to dissuade coach Dave Hakstol from leaving for the NHL--though it didn't work.
The Grand Forks Herald's Brad Elliott Schlossman reports that Hakstol will have to pay UND $100,000 for the opportunity of coaching the Philadelphia Flyers:
Although it had been almost 30 years since an NHL team hired a coach straight from the college ranks, UND athletic director Brian Faison was prepared for that possibility.
When negotiating coach Dave Hakstol’s last contract in 2012, Faison put a clause in the contract that specifically outlined a penalty fee if Hakstol left UND for an NHL head coaching position.
The Philadelphia Flyers hired Hakstol to be their head coach last week.
According to Hakstol’s contract, he will owe the school $100,000 for leaving his contract before June 30, 2015, for an NHL head coaching job.
If he were going to a minor league team or taking an assistant coaching job in the NHL, Hakstol would have owed $50,000. If he left for another NCAA team, he would have owed $318,270, which was his base salary for the 2015-16 season.
Hakstol had three seasons left on his contract with UND. The monetary penalties for leaving before the end of the contract would have decreased each year. He was in the third year of his six-year deal.
The Rangers forced a 7th and deciding game of the Eastern Conference Final by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 on Tuesday night, and the Rangers' wild and wacky win included a hat trick from Derick Brassard:
A game the Tampa Bay Lightning want to win. At home and a win puts them in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers want to force game 7 and I expect a low-scoring game, decided late in the game.
Watch on NBCSN, CBC or TVA with the puck dropping just after 8:00pm ET.
Comment below if you wish.
Army on whether Babcock reports impact Hitchcock's ability to lead the Blues: "Not really. I think the players live in the modern ...
world of social media. When you look over the season, the number of things you read, if 1/10th of that ever came true, I'd be shocked.
I think it's the media's job responsibility to sometimes report the facts and sometimes make stuff up because it's good story."
-via Jeremy Ruthorford tweets.
More from Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the press conference with Armstong and Hitchcock today.
from Mark Whicker of the LA Daily News,
The meager hours between NHL playoff games were not always spent in the most ascetic fashion.
Which is another way of saying that yesterday’s athletes had a different concept of sleep than today’s do.
The old guys thought it could be postponed. Until death.
“After the game, these guys are not going out,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.. “They’re having a good meal and they’re going to bed. I don’t think you could say the same for the 70s and 80s.”
Oh. So what did they do in the 70s and 80s?
“Next question,” Boudreau said.
This comes up because the Ducks and Blackhawks have burned more calories in five games than a bowling team would in five years.
The overtimes define it, of course, They played 116 minutes and 12 seconds in Game 2, and tacked on 85:37 more in Game 4.
On Tuesday, the Ducks were ready to go home after the standard 60 minutes. But Jonathan Toews wanted to keep playing.
His two goals in the final two minutes forced another OT, which Matt Beleskey ended in 45 seconds. The Ducks now lead the Hawks, 3-2.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
I got some Twitter questions asking if Andrew Hammond’s three-year, $4 million contract with Ottawa establishes the market. Simple answer: Not at all. Hammond has played 24 NHL games. Dubnyk has played 231 and has been a No. 1 in Edmonton and Minnesota.
The Wild will not be offering Dubnyk $1.3 million per year. The market for Dubnyk is basically whatever another team will pay him as a free agent (couple that with the fact there’s no obvious answer for the Wild if Dubnyk leaves).
Now, maybe Dubnyk takes less to stay in a place where he was a solid fit, but this was a $3.75 million goalie in Edmonton. For the Wild to sign him, the deal will obviously average well north of $3 million per.
The final figure will depend on term. Give him three years, the average salary/cap hit is probably more. Give him four or five years, and the Wild can probably get the average salary/cap hit to a more comfortable number. Two years makes little sense to me. 1) Why would he take two years? 2) Two years basically means you have to talk to him about an extension next summer if he has a big year.
As I mentioned recently, the biggest concern is that free-agent interview period in late June. I’d think the Wild would want to avoid it getting to the point where Dubnyk says, “Let me see what else is out there, and I’ll circle back to ya.”
more on Dubnyk and the Wild...
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
If the Capitals decide to spend some of their remaining cash to re-sign Joel Ward, who will otherwise enter unrestricted free agency for the third time in his career, the versatile forward would welcome returning with open arms. According to his agent, speaking via telephone Tuesday, the proverbial puck sits in Washington’s end.
“Washington is his first choice over going to unrestricted free agency,” Peter Cooney said. “We would like to re-sign with Washington and come back. Our door is open for the Capitals, absolutely first and foremost.”
Coming off a starring postseason role in which he tied for the team lead with nine points, facing the end of a four-year deal annually worth $3 million, Ward figures to receive a raise, regardless of his destination. At 34 years old, this could be Ward’s last deal structured longer than two years, and MacLellan already predicted that term length would “be an issue,” provided Ward for asks for a three- or four-year contract, which seems all but certain.
With forwards Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr also entering unrestricted free agency, the Capitals likely won’t bring back both of them and Ward, while still satisfying MacLellan’s stated offseason desire to acquire a top-six winger.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Cooper was adamant about ensuring no feeling of complacency had settled in around his group.
"We can't just sit here and say we played a pretty good game in Game 5, that'll just carry us into a win tonight," he said. "If we don't play better than we did in Game 5, we won't win tonight. That's kind of my message."
The affable coach has won five championships during his career, but has never experienced a game as big as this one.
"For me it's excitement, nervousness, fear, anticipation," said Cooper. "I can whip through a bunch of things. It's really an exciting time."
more on both teams...
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