Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Vancouver Sun,
If you can't see that we're watching a vastly improved game -- faster, every bit as physical, and with endless possibilities for comebacks that simply didn't exist two years ago -- it's time to pull your heads out of your ... uh, collars. "It's clear to all of us that the game is a lot better," Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said Friday. "I think the one question mark was, were we going to revert back to the clutching and grabbing tactics that always framed the NHL playoffs?""And that's been answered pretty clearly. At times, as coaches, we complain about the number of calls, and the marginal calls, and what's called and what's not ... but the bottom line is that it has made the game itself better.more
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Much has been made of the meager television audiences in these playoffs, especially in the United States. But thanks in large part to a compelling final series, NBC's national ratings for the last three games are now on a par with the 2004 Stanley Cup finals, ESPN.com has learned. More impressive, Game 5 managed a 2.5 rating and peaked at 4.0 in the late stages of the Oilers' 4-3 overtime win. The rationale, according to television types, is that the product is a strong enough lure fans in and keep them interested, one of the key elements of improving the weak-kneed American television audience as a whole. Total viewers for Game 5 were 3.85 million, up 4 percent from Game 5 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals between Calgary and Tampa Bay.much more on the SCF...
from the Whitehorse Daily Star,
For a diehard, obsessive Oilers fan like me, it was unavoidable. It had been 16 long years since Edmonton last made it to the Stanley Cup final, 16 long years since the city was completely overcome by the fever, 16 long years since I had bragging rights over all of my friends. I had told myself during the second round that if the Oilers made it past San Jose – who, by the way, I admittedly picked to win the west – I would head to Edmonton to catch a game. I had to. But it just didn’t work out at that point, as none of my friends could get the time off to drive the Alaska Highway with me – a hockey road trip just doesn’t include an airplane in my books, it’s much more fun to drive for 24 hours straight, jacked up on coffee and Red Bull. When the Oil went up 3-0 in the conference final against Anaheim, I promised myself I would go to the Stanley Cup final no matter what. I would find a way. And when they closed out the series in five games, the planning was well underway. So last Thursday, my boyfriend – who by the way, is also a huge Oilers fan, which is good because he’s been able to put up with me this spring – and I packed up enough clothes for a few days, stopped to pick up some Red Bull and potato chips, and hit the road with the Oilers flag blowing furiously in the wind.continued
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In the Italian Centre Shop, in the heart of Edmonton's Little Italy, the hot seller right now is a cream-colored bracelet, with the red, white and green flag of Italy emblazoned on it, a sign of support for the Azzurri at the World Cup. Outwardly, there is little sign of Oilers' fever until the name of favourite son Fernando Pisani comes up, and then, there is much smiling about the local boy making good. Pisani occasionally drops by the store on 95th St. for one of the paninos that they sell in big baskets by the deli counter — they come in either hot or mild — but he hasn't been around much since the playoff run started. Once the playoffs are over, there'll be time to indulge in one of the massive, foot-long heroes, loaded with capicolla, mortadella and salami that have become a playoff staple for sports writers who spend their days inside Rexall Place, covering home and visiting team practices.continued
The Carolina Hurricanes will not have Doug Weight in the line-up for Game 6. Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette confirmed the news today after evading the question on Thursday. While Laviolette said Weight "will not be available for Game Six," he did not take it any further, leaving Weight's availability for a possible seventh game in doubt. Some Carolina players, however, have told TSN they are not expecting Weight to play again in the series. Weight appeared to suffer a shoulder injury in the third period of Game Five.The status of Aaron Ward remains questionable also. added 4:37pm, You can read all of the questions and answers from Laviolette in the comments section... added 6:34pm, Ward says he is ready to go, thanks for the heads up from a KK reader and you can read what Ward had to say in the comments...
from Michale Farber of Sports Illustrated,
The playoffs are a marathon, of course, and a player who wants his name engraved on the silver trophy has to go the extra mile. But the Oilers and the Hurricanes are way beyond the requisite 26 miles, 385 yards at this point -- in part because of a hidebound, Tradition 'R Us 2-2-1-1-1 schedule that makes such little sense on so many levels. The Oilers are to blame. Not these Oilers, but their Gretzky-Messier-Fuhr forebears, merely one of the best (and indisputably most aesthetic) teams in history. Back in the mid-1980s, the NHL decided to adopt a 2-3-2 format, identical to what the NBA currently usesmore
MacTavish speaks on Friday...Q
Q. The media likes to subscribe to that theory that the first goalie off the ice at practice is your starter for the next game. If that's the case, Roloson is your starter for Game 6. COACH MacTAVISH: Never say never. If it goes nine he's a possibility (Laughter) And the way the looks right now it could very well be nine. Q. What did it means to have him out there skating before practice? COACH MacTAVISH: I don't think too much outside of the fact that Kenny Lowe came running in and says he has got a really good shot. I guess he just wanted to give it a try. I guess you never know, but very, very, very doubtful. Q. If you would give three explanations why the Oilers got this far this year, what would those be? COACH MacTAVISH: Goaltending, timely scoring, team effort, full team effort, a lot of buy-in from all our guys. Everybody committed. Q. How have you achieved this? What have you done as a coach to make this happen? COACH MacTAVISH: Picked up Roloson at the deadline. Brilliant coaching ploy. No, it seems like -- I mean, obviously -- outside of the obvious, where fundamentally you are a sound team and you do a lot of things well on the ice. Outside of that, the obviousness of that, it's a situation where we have gotten really big goals at really opportune times. That's just a product of perseverance, I guess, and we have had lots of those and everybody is committed. Everybody has played to the best of their ability, and certainly everybody's has bought into what we're trying to do and we have grown in confidence. It's nothing more than that.more in the comments...
from the LA Times,
Fans attended NHL games in record numbers this season after many teams cut ticket prices in the wake of the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season. Now it appears many of those fans will pay more for such loyalty. According to Tim Ryan, chief executive of Anaheim Arena Management, a "facilities" fee will be attached to every ticket purchased for an event at the Pond, including Ducks games. For every ticket to a Ducks game priced above $25, a $3 facility fee will be required, team officials confirmed. Tickets costing $25 or less will be assessed a $1.50 fee. "It's a fee that's pretty much standard in our business," said Ryan... The Ducks, Ryan said, have not reneged on a promise made when the lockout ended last summer to not raise season-ticket prices this coming season. They also had rolled back prices this past season by as much as $9 a seat. Other teams, such as Ottawa, made similar promises or reduced prices. And even though the Ducks advanced to the Western Conference finals, they are expected to lose money this season, as much as $15 million, according to General Manager Brian Burke.more (reg. req.)
from the Tennessean,
Are the Predators in this for the long haul? And do enough people in the area care about hockey and/or the Preds to make this marriage work in the long term? Frustration over the market's failure to fully embrace the Preds boiled over during the first round of the playoffs. When ticket sales stalled, Preds officials initially threatened to black out Game 5 in the local TV market. Team officials blamed lagging sales on the Nashville area business community, which was not buying blocks of tickets, as is standard operating procedure in most NHL markets. But the blackout blackmail left a mark. Some local business movers and shakers were alienated and are not likely to hop aboard any time soon. Elsewhere, there are signs of a ticket sales uptick among the rank and file, or Joe and Jill Fan, as Preds V.P. Steve Violetta calls them. Season ticket sales could pass 10,000 for the first time in several years. Yes, they're keeping score. After three years of declining attendance in the seasons before the lockout, Preds officials indicated attendance was up roughly 10 percent this season. But paid attendance — not including complimentary tickets, which often number well into four figures for weeknight games — remained below 13,000 a game.more about the battle between the City of Nashville and the Preds...
from the Mercury News,
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson calls his team's goalie situation ``a problem everyone would love to have.'' Both Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala have carried the team for extended stretches over the past two seasons. Both recently signed multi-year contract extensions. And, as trade talks are increasing in the days leading to the NHL's June 24 entry draft, both appear to be on other teams' shopping lists. ``We've got two guys who are No. 1s,'' Wilson said Thursday. ``It's a good problem and we'll deal with it. I get a lot of phone calls every day.'' The majority of those callers mention his goaltenders. How Wilson responds is the issue. Most speculation has focused on the Sharks trading Nabokov, who was supplanted as their top goalie during the final months of the season and throughout the playoffs. But Wilson left open other possibilities, saying he would do whatever improves his club the most.continued
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