Kukla's Korner

The Edge In Game 7

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Brophy of Sporstnet,

In a Stanley Cup final series that has resembled a chess game, you’d have to think the Red Wings are two days away from announcing, “Checkmate!” Given the fact the home team has been so dominant in this year’s final, Detroit will clearly have the edge when the puck is dropped at 8:10 p.m. Friday night at The Joe….

Not sure I’m crazy about the Penguins odds.

Nevertheless, there will be some key match-ups in the winner-take-all affair.

Mike Babcock vs. Dan Bylsma

In 2002-03 Bylsma was a little-known checking winger on an Anaheim Mighty Ducks team coached by Babcock that lost in seven games in the final to the New Jersey Devils. It was the most boring final I have ever witnessed. Now the student will attempt to outwit the teacher.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Nervous Hockeytown?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Curtis Zupke of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,

The words were on the upper level scoreboard that lines the inside of Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh:

“It’s a Bird Thing.”

Apparently so.

After the Ducks took defending champion Detroit to a Game 7 in the Western Conference semifinals, the Pittsburgh Penguins are taking the Red Wings a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Red Wings Nation didn’t seem too nervous for a Game 7 against the Ducks, who put a serious scare into Hockeytown when took it all the way down to the final minute.

But Detroit and its curiously large fan base in Southern California should be wary because Pittsburgh has what the Ducks had going into the playoffs:



Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Penguins Must Strike Early In Game 7

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Spector at FoxSports,

The problem for Crosby and Malkin in Detroit is the Red Wings get the last change before each faceoff, providing Wings coach Mike Babcock the opportunity to get the players out there — usually Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk — who can keep the Penguins’ young guns in check.

Fleury meanwhile had trouble in this series with the lively boards at “The Joe,” something the Red Wings will once again attempt to exploit to their advantage.

Like the Penguins with their hometown fans in Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena, the Red Wings draw energy from the enthusiastic denizens of Detroit.

For the Penguins to silence that crowd they’ll need to do something they have yet to do in this series: take an early lead in Detroit.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Babcock Back In Detroit Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Q. Obviously, the Pens have had great success in Mellon in the series, and you guys have done really well at Joe Louis. When you looked at the films have you been able to ascertain what the difference is between what’s happening in your arena and their arena?

        COACH BABCOCK: I think the teams seem to get centered on time and feel a little more comfortable in their building. And I thought in last night’s game, it’s interesting, because we had three shots in the first period, yet Zetterberg and Datsyuk and Cleary had some unbelievable opportunities that just didn’t go.

        I mean, that’s hockey. I thought last night’s game was a real good game. But you’re right. If you look at it, I’ve been in a series exactly like this and we went to Jersey for Game 7 and lost. It was the same thing. Couldn’t win on the road. Couldn’t even touch the puck on the road. It was just ugly. For whatever reason, I’m not sure the number, I think we won 27 games on the road in the regular season. We were the best road team in the NHL.

        Going into the series you say to yourself you’re going to win one game. And I think every game in the series with the exception of Game 5 in here and Game 4 in there could have gone either way. Those two games the teams just flat out won the games. Other than that, it’s been real close.

        So it’s the greatest stage, the greatest opportunity, and it should be a lot of fun.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+babcock

Not Going There

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

...And when Lidstrom appeared tired and mistake-prone in the Final against Pittsburgh, questions were raised again about his fitness to play. Was it an ankle? A knee? Under the NHL’s Orwellian injury disclosure policy, a postal-code approximation of the hurt was all that was given to the media.

Actually, Lidstrom had a damaged testicle from being pitch-forked by Chicago’s Patrick Sharp in Game 3 of the Western final. He needed all the time between the cheap shot and Game One of the final to rehabthe injury. As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now you know the rest of the story”.

While it’s considerate to Lidstrom that such an . . . er, intimate injury be hushed up, the cover-up damages the league’s credibility in several ways.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nick+lidstrom

Watching NBC

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Toni Fitzgerald of Media Life,

It was the NBA and NHL finals out ahead of the other networks last night, as the Orlando Magic earned their first win of the series and the Pittsburgh Penguins ensured that the Stanley Cup finals will go seven games.

ABC’s basketball coverage led the night with a 3.9 adults 18-49 rating and 11 share, according to Nielsen overnights, followed by NBC’s hockey coverage in second at 2.2/6.

As a reminder, ratings for live sporting events are approximate as fast nationals measure timeslot and not actual program data. They also do not include accurate West Coast viewing or post-primetime viewing in the East. Final numbers will be out later today.


added 12:08pm, More numbers at Puck The Media.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nbc

Wild Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants at the Star-Tribune,

It appears all but certain that Chuck Fletcher at least wants to interview Wings assistant Paul MacLean, and maybe even Brad McCrimmon, so by the series continuing, it delays the interview(s) to this weekend at the earliest.

Fletcher attended last night’s game and is scheduled back in his St. Paul office today. In fact, he’s been hopping around the last couple days working on the coaching search. Peter Laviolette’s been MIA since originally being quoted in the Strib, so that often means you can bet your last dollar they’ve met within the last couple days.

And that is what I’ve been told by myriad sources. As I’ve written on here in the past, of all the former NHL coaches, Laviolette makes the most sense….

As for Heatley, there seems to be a perception out there that if the Wild loses Marian Gaborik, it can just go out and acquire $7.5 million players.

It’s a lot more complex than that, especially since it’s unknown where the salary cap will dip to in the next two or three years and because the team spent $6 million a year on Niklas Backstrom. That $4.08 million salary cap hit for Pierre-Marc Bouchard the next four years tightens things up as well.

Yes, the Wild could take Heatley’s $7.5 million cap hit the next five years, but it would affect any flexibility or ability to plug other holes, like center and defenseman though the end of his contract


Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Bylsma This Morning

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Q. You mentioned last night after the game about telling the guys for Game 7 to go out, concentrate on trying to win, not to lose. When you got here in mid February, was that something overall you had to convince these guys? Because I know talking to a lot of them, they were saying how they felt like they were just trying to stay afloat, the difference between staying afloat and trying to win?

        COACH BYLSMA: It wasn’t hard convincing them, I don’t think. The game by nature is aggressive, and in?your?face and confrontational. And if you’re not playing it that way, you know it. You know when another team’s taking it to you. You know when you’re waiting or letting the play come to you.

        As players, every player in that room has had success at some point in time due to their skill level or the teams they’ve played on of being aggressive and taking the play to the other team. That’s the way the game should be played and needs to be played to tip the scales in your favor.
        So it wasn’t a hard thing to do to say let’s get on our toes and let’s go after this thing and play the right way and get to the offensive zone, and play at a pace that makes it tough for other teams to play with us.

        I think the biggest thing about what happened since February is how quickly the guys said that’s the way we need to play.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dan+bylsma

Datsyuk & Malkin Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dmitry Chesnokov at Puck Daddy,

Pavel Datsyuk(notes) of the Wings and Evgeni Malkin(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins spoke after the Game 6 victory for the home team about a number of subjects, including what to look for in Game 7, being so close to winning the Stanley Cup and Malkin speaking about both Marian Hossa(notes) and his plans for octopi in Detroit.

First up is Datsyuk:

Q. Did you have a gut feeling before the final that this would be a seventh game series?

DATSYUK: To be honest with you, I didn’t think about it at all. I just want to win. It is clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins are an excellent team. So, I don’t think anyone thought it would be easy.

After your comeback from the foot injury it seems you have some special attention from some Penguins’ players: Like Max Talbot(notes) slashing you on your injured foot; and tonight Matt Cooke(notes) almost having a knee on knee collision with you.

To be honest with you, it is great! It just means they don’t like me for something. On a different hand, this is the playoffs and the game is very aggressive, especially in the finals. But it is all within the rules….

Can you almost feel the Stanley Cup in your hands?

MALKIN:  No. But it is a lot closer this year. We have a more even team. And we are playing awesome as a team. And now we have a Game 7. I think Detroit will also be nervous. We have our strengths. We have to play our hockey and not adjust to Detroit’s style.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: evgeni+malkin, pavel+datsyuk

Tough Playing In Russia

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,

Both (Barry) Smith and Emery’s agent, J.P. Barry, say the KHL was no summer vacation. It was serious hockey with primitive conditions outside the rink that most NHLers wouldn’t have the fortitude to tolerate.

“To go overseas to Russia to play, to me, means you really want to play,” Smith said. “It’s not easy. It is the hardest place in Europe to go and play hockey – for sure. So he chose the hardest place to play and he played very well, taking his team to first place.

“I think this speaks volumes for a kid who wants to get back in the league [NHL].”

Playing in Russia was very different than North America. Emery would have to show up at 5 p.m. – more than 24 hours before his game – at a gymnasium with other team members where they would bunk-in overnight.

“Forget what these guys were earning, they slept on cots in a gym before the game,” Barry said.


The Flyers will be announcing today the signing of Ray Emery.  Good move?

added 11:16am, Official release from the Flyers on the signing…

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, Non-NHL Hockey, European Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ray+emery

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