Kukla's Korner

As Close As It Gets In The West

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,

Here’s how close the Ducks and Blackhawks are right now:

Late Saturday night, they gushed about their successful third-period comeback, they clung to the faith exhibited in their utter refusal to surrender and they preached absolute certainty that the results of Game 4 would help them in their pursuit of Game 5.

And that was both teams, the sounds of acquired and renewed coming in stereo, the statements in the respective United Center locker rooms almost identical until reaching the punctuation marks. The Blackhawks were smiling, the Ducks not exactly.

But even then there was a notable similarity. This is hockey, so neither team was showing a lot of teeth.

Tied in games at 2-2, this matchup has been so even that the differences can be measured best microscopically. And why not, given the levels of DNA these players have dripped onto the ice so far?

“I think this series has been played very tight,” explained Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who doesn’t always say things that are as obvious as the former Sears Tower is tall. “Can’t be any more even than what I saw in four games.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Great Theater

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Video- Coach’s Corner From Last Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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...

 

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, CBC HNIC, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: don+cherry, ron+maclean

Memorial Day 2015

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Remember and honor.

 

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Steven Stamkos Finds His Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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."

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The New York Rangers Fail To Deliver A Win

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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.

continued

Below, watch the game highlights...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

On Andersson and Jurco’s disappointing 14-15 campaigns

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

After a very busy week, the press seems to have paused to catch its breath after last week's Babcockian fandango, so this morning, there are only two Red Wings-related items of note, and they both involve players whose 2014-15 campaigns were statistical disappointments.

Joakim Andersson, who's a restricted free agent this summer, may not necessarily have a home without Mike Babcock employing him as an extremely reliable penalty-killing forward, and at 26, dropping down from 17 points in 2013-14 to 8 in 2014-15 didn't help his statistical cause.

If he does return to the Red Wings, Andersson told the Free Press's George Sipple that he'd like to do the obvious--contribute more points:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Prospect playoff news: Griffins drop first game of Western Conference Final vs. Utica

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Grand Rapids Griffins found themselves playing an unfamiliar opponent after a 6-day break when they opened up their Western Conference Final series against the Utica Comets on Sunday, and a combination of rust and "not knowing your opponent" bit the Griffins in the collective butt.

Tom McCollum gave up a pair of weak first-period goals, and while Mark Zengerle's power play goal afforded the Griffins a 2-1 deficit going into the 1st intermission, the Griffins were absolutely checked into dust during the 2nd and 3rd periods, and because the Griffins couldn't get their offense on track, they dropped a 2-1 decision to Utica, and looked like a struggling team in doing so.

With Game 2 set for Monday night at 7 PM (on WOOD Radio and the AHL Live), the Griffins will have to make some adjustments to deal with Utica's suffocating checking in a hurry.

Dylan Larkin also made his pro debut, and he didn't dazzle, but he fit in nearly seamlessly with the better players on the Griffins' roster, and that was perhaps the only positive of the evening.

Anyway, the Griffins' website posited a game recap and a photo gallery from the affair...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Open Post- Game 5 ECF Between The Tampa Bay Lightning And New York Rangers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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.

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets Game 1 open post

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Grand Rapids Griffins open the AHL's Western Conference Final against the Utica Comets this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio).

Here's an open thread to suit your needs and hopefully include some "alternate means" of watching the game.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

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