Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
It’s taken a while but if hockey fans aren’t fully engaged in the conference finals by now, the NHL has a problem. To date, the final four has offered just about everything on a fans’ wish list: evenly matched but contrasting teams, constantly changing storylines and star power. And it’s all made for compelling hockey.
The Blackhawks’ 5-4 Game 4 win over Anaheim, for example, offered more plot twists than a season of Game of Thrones with the Hawks a) coughing up a two-goal lead in the third period by surrendering three goals in 37 seconds before b) they tied the game late and c) Antoine Vermette, who had been a healthy scratch the game before, potted the game-winner in double overtime.
You’d think the Ducks’ inability to close this one out will mark a turning point in the series but, really, who knows what’s coming next. It’s the same story in the East where the Rangers and Lightning are producing their own drama, and that should make for appointment viewing.
The issue, of course, is that the momentum of the NHL’s post-season tends to peter out after the opening round. The final four occupies the fans of the teams involved but, even in Canada, there’s the sense a larger audience tunes them out.
It’s also the opposite story in the NBA where interest intensifies the deeper the playoffs run. That league is now looking at a final with LeBron James and Steph Curry at the top of the marquee and an endlessly attractive matchup between Cleveland and Golden State.
The NHL? You just hope the teams will continue to provide great entertainment because the game needs it.
via Scott Lewis of Sportsnet,
Don Cherry believes Babcock will make the Maple Leafs a better team sooner than later. Cherry shared some of his thoughts on how Babcock will impact the club in his first season during Sunday’s edition of “Coach’s Corner,” with an emphasis on Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and sniper Phil Kessel.
The Leafs talk is near the end of the video...
Remember and honor.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"Stammer and Fil, and Killorn, to be honest, I think they've elevated their game to as high a level as you can play," Cooper said after his team’s 2-0 win Sunday night, giving the Lightning a 3-2 series lead over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 6 is Tuesday in Tampa.
"The one thing with Stammer, you look at his seven goals, he's not getting the sixth goal in a 6-2 game,” Cooper said. "He's getting the go-ahead goal or the one that you build off. It was only a matter of time. You can't keep him down forever."
Stamkos, well, looks like Stamkos again.
"I'm definitely more confident now than I was the first eight games, no question," Stamkos said after putting up a goal and an assist in Sunday night’s huge victory. "But I think for me it was a great adversity test.
"Our team was winning, which was great. The depth has prevailed all season for our team. But I knew I was playing the right way. When you play the right way, things are going to start going your way. We switched some things up, moved to the wing, tried to free some things up. The power play has gotten a lot better too, where you get a couple goals, you get a couple points there, now you're feeling a little better. So everything has kind of accumulated to this point right now. But when you have confidence, you try to keep it as long as you can, because it is tough to get at this time of the year."
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
This wasn’t good enough from the Rangers, not good enough at all to win a conference final Game 5, and divining meaning from the all-but-empty locker room that greeted the press following the match, the Blueshirts must have known it.
It was 2-0 for the Lightning, who played to perfection what the Rangers had every right to consider their own game to nudge the Blueshirts to the precipice of elimination in taking a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Blueshirts played with passion and jump throughout the first period, but displayed little of either over the final 40 minutes while being stifled by a Lightning in front of an audience as quiet as Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Marty St. Louis, and … ah, you get the idea.
What a downer.
Below, watch the game highlights...
Scheduled puck drop is just after 8:00pm ET on NBCSN, CBC and TVA.
The series is tied at two games and tonight's game will be played at Madison Square Garden.
Feel free to discuss the game.
from Bill Beacon of the CP at MetroNews,
Junior hockey was the high point for Esposito, who had 39 goals and 98 points in his first season. His stock dropped when he fell to 79 points in his draft year. He slipped again to 69 the following season, but had his moment at the world junior championship in Ottawa where he scored the game winner in the final for Canada.
Since then, a succession of injuries, including two torn ACL ligaments, a torn MCL and a hip problem, have stalled his career and dropped him into obscurity. Last season, he played one game for Fort Wayne of the ECHL and then was waived and didn’t play again.
“It was a tough year mentally and physically,” the 26-year-old said. “I’ve been through a lot over the last few years, so I took the year off.
“I started training about two months ago and I’m looking to go back and play in Europe again next year.”
Pittsburgh traded him to Atlanta and he spent time in the Florida and Dallas organizations before he was released in 2012. He played a year in Finland, another in Italy and another in the Austrian league, not scoring many goals on any stop.
“You have to learn to accept things,” he said. “Everyone’s destined for something in life.
“It’s too bad I never got to step on the ice in the NHL. You never want to say never, but you have to be realistic and come to terms with it. There’s something else waiting out there and hopefully I get to achieve something else.”
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
This is where we are heading into Sunday’s Game 5: All square in the Eastern Conference final with everything on the line. Two wins from the Stanley Cup final or two losses from a summer of regret.
"I think the harsh reality is some guys in this room may never get a chance to get this far again," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Sunday morning. "Hopefully everyone does, but you never know in this sport. It's so tough to get here. ... There's really no place to hide right now.
"We have to find a way to respond, to play a lot better than we did last game and to get ourselves that much closer to the final."
To date, this has been a highly unpredictable series. Tight-checking in Game 1, a parade to the penalty box in Game 2, scoring bonanza in Game 3 and Rangers blow out in Game 4.
After Tampa made its way here on Saturday, the players were treated to a video and strategy session. The message? Let's focus on playing some defence in addition to the dazzling offence.
from Today's Slapshot,
Marc Crawford, head coach of the ZSC Lions of the National League A, took some time to email with Sean Tierney and had some interesting thoughts on the process of coaching, Auston Matthews and analytics. His answers are presented as-is.
ST: Rumours have swirled about the possibility of Auston Matthews playing in the NLA next season, possibly for your ZSC Lions. In your opinion, what are the advantages of playing internationally for a draft-eligible star like Matthews? Could a teenager succeed playing against men in the Swiss league?
MC: Auston Matthews is an outstanding young Hockey player and everyone involved with the ZSC Lions is so excited about seeing him play in Zurich.
There is no doubt that he can play and excell [sic] in the Swiss NLA and I believe it is the perfect training ground for young athletes. He will be coached by an NHL coach he will be challenged by playing against men in a fast skating, highly skilled league. He will learn what it is like to play the systems that will be utilized as he continues to rise up the hockey ranks.
He is a wonderful young man who wants to improve and we have an excellent record of development.
Ron Kenins developed with us and this year Jonas Sigenthaler and Denis Malgin both will get drafted because of our program.
from Aaron Elstein of Crain's New York Business,
If you've followed the Rangers' quest for the Stanley Cup, then you've had a few options if you've wanted to watch.
You could buy a ticket, though the cheapest seats for playoff games at Madison Square Garden cost around $400.
You could watch on TV from home, which would require forking over about $100 a month for a cable package, depending on the plan.
Or you could watch the games online. For nothing.
It takes only a few minutes of surfing the Internet to find a live Rangers game courtesy of someone who is streaming the NBC Sports cable network and Mike Emrick's electrifying play-by-play for free.
These pirate sports sites—some of which even make money from advertising—are taking advantage of technology that's making it easier to live-stream high-definition TV feeds, enabling them to expand their audiences beyond diehard fans willing to put up with choppy video and erratic sound. In short, the same kind of bandits who attacked movies and music are now assaulting the multibillion-dollar world of sports.
continue with MLB worked in the article...
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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