Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The club still glorifies fighting on the video board at the Wachovia Center, but the game has changed dramatically since the Broad Street Bullies captured the hearts of their fans by ripping the hearts out of any team that got in their way.
Bench-clearing brawls have been legislated out of the game, and the third man in on a fight faces a game misconduct. Still, there remains a place in the NHL for the guys who bring that certain element.
The Penguins, the Flyers’ opponent in the Eastern Conference finals that begin tomorrow night in Pittsburgh, have the game’s most feared fighter in Georges Laraque, who carries 245 pounds behind his bad intentions. Laraque’s tough-guy reputation is such that few among the league’s fighters will even take him on. One of them is the Flyers’ Riley Cote.
from Spector at Fox Sports,
The Western Conference finals pit a Red Wings team that finished first overall during the regular season and cruised past Nashville and Colorado in the first two rounds against a Stars club that finished fifth overall in the conference and nearly 20 points back of the Wings.
It’s the “Battle of Pennsylvania” in the Eastern Conference, featuring a Penguins team that finished second overall and quickly dispatched of the Senators and Rangers against a hardworking Flyers team that required a strong finish in the regular season to clinch sixth overall.
While the regular season stats favor the Red Wings and Penguins, both clubs must be wary of their upstart opponents. The Stars advanced to the conference finals by knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks and the Pacific Division champion San Jose Sharks, while the Flyers bounced the Southeast Division champion Washington Capitals and the conference-leading Montreal Canadiens.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
From the day Richard Peddie’s lips were caught moving while Fletcher made the opening remarks on his second tour of duty with the Leafs to yesterday’s rather laughable press conference, it’s become pretty clear why the MLSE board hired Fletcher.
They wanted him to do their bidding – just as he did in 1996 when he was instructed to trade away a slew of high-priced veterans and not to sign free agent Wayne Gretzky – and they want his immense credibility in the industry to hide behind.
Beloved in the hockey world, he’s the perfect front man.
via the LA Times,
According to theSpread.com’s betting chart, Detroit had received 75% of the bets to win Game 1 and at Wagerline.com, the Red Wings had received 71.10% (844-343) of the picks as of Wednesday afternoon.
At Bodoglife.com, Detroit is listed at 6-1 to win the series in four games; at 3-1 to win in five games; at 7-2 to win in six games, and at 7-2 to win in seven games.
The Stars are listed at 30-1 to sweep the series in four games; at 15-1 to win in five games; at 7-1 to win in six games; and at 8-1 to win in seven games.
from the Star-Ledger,
There haven’t been many missteps this season for Rafalski or the Red Wings. The 34-year-old Dearborn, Mich., native has a chance to win his third Stanley Cup (he won in 2000 and ‘03 with the Devils).
“It would be crazy around here,” he said. “Personally, it would be special winning it in front of family and friends after growing up watching the Red Wings and then being part of the organization.
“Not many people were picking us to win. Everyone picked Anaheim, San Jose or the Rangers. The critics said we weren’t built for the playoffs and we didn’t have the goaltending. There was some added pressure because of the history of this team going out early in the playoffs.”
From some short Q&A time with the media on Wednesday, below are transcripts from interviews with these Dallas Stars players and management:
- Marty Turco
- Brad Richards
- Mike Modano
- Brett Hull
via Larry Lage of the AP,
“Bring it on,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “If we’re going to go up the food chain, might as well eat the best.”
more on the Wings/Stars series…
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
They are in the same place as they were a year ago, the only one of the four remaining teams in the chase for the Stanley Cup that is back in the semi-finals for the second year in a row.
But the differences between then and now are night and day, for the Detroit Red Wings. Last year, they were missing two of their three top defencemen – Nicklas Kronwall and Mathieu Schneider – at this stage of the playoffs, meaning Methuselah (a.k.a. Chris Chelios) was playing upward of 20 minutes a night. Kyle Quincey, a minor-leaguer, got into 13 playoff games. Andreas Lilja was a top-four rearguard.
You get the picture.
from Mike Brophy of the Hockey News,
Who the heck are these guys, you ask?
Fistric was the Stars’ first pick, 28th overall, in the 2004 entry draft. In 37 games with the Stars in the regular season - his first taste of big league play - Fistric had two assists. So you know he wasn’t brought to town to add offense.
Grossman was chosen the same year – 56th overall – and has a similar offensive upside to Fistric, which is to say hardly any at all. In 70 NHL games prior to this year’s playoffs, he had seven assists.
Daley, meanwhile, is a scoring defenseman, but like the other two, it was his stellar defensive play in Game 6 that was most notable.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired coach Paul Maurice and sources tell TSN that the team has approached the Vancouver Canucks asking for permission to speak with recently fired GM Dave Nonis.
Nonis would be brought in to handle the Leafs’ managing duties through next season, with speculation suggesting the Maple Leafs would then approach Brian Burke at the conclusion of the season, with designs on Burke overseeing the entire hockey operation with Nonis continuing to occupy a management role as well.
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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