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Tag:Conference Quarterfinal
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:35 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 1:43 am

Veteran Red Wings close to another round

Twenty consecutive seasons in the playoffs is amazing enough. Factor in that the Detroit Red Wings have advanced past the first round in all but six occasions during that stretch is arguably even more impressive. 

The first year they advanced during this long stretch (1992), the Wings had this rookie named Nicklas Lidstrom on defense. He was on the ice for 18 minutes, three seconds for Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 3 of the first-round series as Detroit moved closer to a sweep. 

Was this the same team that dropped five of seven to finish off the regular season? In Hockey Town where Tomas Holmstrom is virtually immovable in front of the opponent’s net, Pavel Datsyuk remains one of the best two-way forwards in hockey and Lidstrom provides stability on the blue line, this kind of postseason surge shouldn’t be a surprise anymore. 

But the early part of the Wings’ playoff streak wasn’t always pretty. The Red Wings were knocked off in the first round in three of the first seasons of their current run, including in 1994. The Red Wings won the Western Conference -- the first season since the switch from the Wales and Campbell conference alignment -- only to lose to the San Jose Sharks in the expansion team’s third season of existence in seven games.


The Red Wings broke through with their first Stanley Cup of this streak in 1997 and added Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2008. They’re the last club to repeat as champs, and, with the Chicago Blackhawks down 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks, that feat will likely remain intact for at least another year. 

Ken Holland has been the team’s GM for the last three titles and Ilitch family has provided a stable ownership for nearly three decades now. It’s the kind of stability that is rare these days and stands in stark contrast to the team they faced in the first round of the postseason for two seasons: the Phoenix Coyotes. A Red Wings victory in Game 4 on Wednesday could be the last in Glendale, Ariz, for the rudderless club as a move back to Canada appears could be on the horizon.

Along with Lidstrom, Chris Osgood (out for the season after hernia surgery) and Kris Draper are among the other Wings veterans from those Cup-winning years. Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski writes that they are pretty far into their careers, but may not quite be done:
Some might call the Wings old. It's probably wiser to call them wise, not that they really mind the labels. The Wings are big on creating attachments, composed veterans mentoring youngsters, and it's why people wait their turn. It's also why few players ever want to leave, and why Draper, 39, and Osgood, 38, would love to stay.

I think there's great value in good teammates like this, measured in places you can't see. Both of their contracts are up, and no one is looking that far ahead yet, not when there's so much to see right now.

"When I'm on the ice in practice, I got a smile on my face, and I try to be one of the last guys out there," Draper said. "I feel great. I'm loving what I'm doing, and I just want to keep doing it as long as I can."

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:35 am
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Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 2:16 am

Downie, Kunitz take game down ugly path

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Lighting alternated winning through the first two games of the first-round series.

On Monday, they exchanged cheap shots. 

Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie left his feet to take aim at Pens defenseman Ben Lovejoy six minutes into regulation. The collision resulted in a delayed penalty, although Max Talbot scored to negate it. It happened in a “hitting area,” which was NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell’s reasoning behind not suspending Vancouver’s Raffi Torres for a Sunday collision, but I don’t think anywhere on the ice has a “launching area.” Here’s a look at the hit:

Midway through the first, it was Pens forward Chris Kunitz who tossed a fairly targeted (and sneaky) elbow at the head of Lightning forward Simon Gagne. Kunitz received a two-minute minor for elbowing. Here's a look at that hit:

Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Gagne's thoughts on the hit:

"I'm sure the league will take a look at it," Gagne said. "We all saw what happened. He went right at my head. The ref asked if I was OK. You see it good on the replay."

Gagne said he was fine following the hit, despite his history with head injuries.

"I feel OK," he said. "That's the only comment I've got right now. You know the league is going to take a long look at that. We all know what the rules are."

The league is reportedly taking took more than just a look at both hits during Game 3, a tilt the Pens won, 3-2. Both Downie and Kunitz will have hearings over the phone with Campbell and other NHL officials on Tuesday, according to TSN
-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 6:26 pm

Canucks' Torres avoids suspension for big hit

A few feet to his right or left was all that separated Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres from another suspension for a blindside hit.
Torres caught an unsuspecting Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook up high during the second period, a collision that drew an interference minor. But the NHL decided to take no action on Monday and league disciplinarian Colin Campbell explained in a statement why that was: 
"When Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head) was unanimously adopted by the General Managers in March 2010, there was no intention to make this type of shoulder hit to the head illegal. In fact, at that time, we distributed a video to all players and teams that showed a similar hit on a defenseman by an attacking forward coming from the opposite direction behind the net and stated that this is a 'legal play'.

"This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: he did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not 'late'."

Seabrook, for one, said Monday there should have been another ban in the offing, according to CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers:
Asked if he was surprised Torres didn’t get a suspension on the hit, Seabrook said, “yep.”

“With his history I think that hit deserves a suspension. Not going to complain about that. It’s a fast game. Things happen quickly. You have a split second to make a decision. He wasn’t trying to hit me in the head but at the same time if they’re not going to suspend somebody for that I just don’t understand that.”

“I think he kept his elbow in but he hit the head first,” Seabrook continued. “As far as I’m concerned that’s the only thing I felt. The rest of my body’s feeling the rest of it today. Whether or not he was targeting (my head) he made contact with the head first.”

Here’s a look at the hit. Seabrook was knocked out of the game briefly after another check by Torres later in the period of the Canucks’ 3-2 victory over the ‘Hawks, although Seabrook returned for the third. The Canucks lead the series, 3-0. 

Torres was playing in his first contest since he was suspended four games for a hit on Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle on April 5.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quennville, according to CSN Chicago, took more issue with the fact his team wasn't given a major penalty for the collision.
“I have no problem with that as far as the league views it. They know the standards, they know the criteria. They do a good job with that. The call on the ice is where we got hurt the most,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It should’ve been a major penalty because he didn’t touch the puck. Hit like that you could be exposed to severe injuries and that’s the intent of a major call.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:26 pm

Sidney Crosby misses another practice

The possibility of Sidney Crosby returning to action may have diminished some when the Pittsburgh center missed today’s game-day skate due to doctor’s orders, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi reports

"His workout regimen, the one he's gone through the last five days, continues to be all through the doctor," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's been working out off the ice ... and there hasn't been a change to his status."

Crosby hasn't been on the ice since Friday, although he is on the trip as the Pens’ first-round series moves to Tampa Bay for Game 3 tonight. Crosby was still scheduled to go through an off-ice workout today. 

Crosby hasn’t played since early January due to a concussion. He was cleared to resume non-contact practices on March 30. Crosby needs to be cleared for full-contact practices, then games before he’ll be allowed to return to game action. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:52 pm

Boston's Zdeno Chara likely back for Game 3

Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, out Game 2 of the first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens due to dehydration, appears to be back in the lineup for tonight’s tilt at the Bell Centre. 

"I can’t say at this point that (Chara) is definitely going to be in, but he looked much better this morning," CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reported on Twitter

Chara spent Friday night in the hospital for treatment of what the team described as “a bug.” He took part in warm-ups before Game 2, but was scratched and the Bruins went on to lose, 3-1. Boston trails 2-0 in the best-of-seven series entering tonight’s game. 

This is the first time the Bruins have played in Montreal since Chara’s check of Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty, a Habs forward, broke a bone in his neck and suffered a concussion after his head bounded off a divider between the benches. Chara was ejected but not suspended for the March 8 collision, which angered many Canadiens fans and led to police to look into the incident. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 16, 2011 4:08 am
Edited on: April 19, 2011 11:51 am

Road to the Cup: Canucks rounding into shape

Maybe the trick is meeting the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. 

The Vancouver Canucks, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners, are halfway to overtaking the ‘Hawks with a 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks Friday night. Vancouver joined the Washington Capitals -- the top seed in the Eastern Conference --- as they exited the evening with a 2-0 series lead. 

ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes it wasn’t goalie Corey Crawford or the team’s comparatively shallow depth compared to the franchise’s Cup-winning team from a year ago that is most responsible for this debt:
The Hawks’ leaders have been nowhere to be found in the first two games of the series hence a 2-0 deficit for the defending champions. 
“It’s not fun when you’re working as hard as you can and it seems like when you’re getting close to the net pucks are bouncing over your stick or shots are getting blocked,” Jonathan Toewssaid after the game. “Gotta find a way. No frustration, no excuses.” 
Toews epitomizes the lack of production by the Hawks’ top players. In 22:04 of ice time in Game 2 he managed zero shots on net though he nearly scored on a mini-breakaway early in the game. The puck rolled off his stick before an attempt could be delivered. 
“We’re the ones out there in the crucial situations,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “It’s up to us. We’ll take responsibility.” 

Highlight of the night 

Plenty of goals were scored Friday, although no scoring attempt was interesting as Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis' header in the third period of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-1 victory. It wouldn’t have counted under Rule 78.5 that bars any puck directed into the net with anything other than a stick. 

Performance of the night

Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzalf had a goal and two assists as the his team evened the first-round series with a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. (Teammate  Bobby Ryan had two goals, but the second was an empty netter. Edge Getzlaf.)

-- A.J. Perez

Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:59 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 7:53 pm

Kings' Jarret Stoll receives one-game suspension

Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll received a one-game suspension a day after he checked San Jose Sharks defenseman Ian White into the boards, the NHL announced Friday. 

Exactly how long White will be out isn't so certian, according to the Mercury News:

"At this present time, I would say no," coach Todd McLellan when asked about the likelihood White would be able to play.

"It's our job," the coach added later, "to put players in situations where they can succeed and you can't do that if you're not healthy and alert. He has to prove to us as a coaching staff and a training staff that he can do that. We all know the protocol now for head injuries. When he and the training staff march into my offce and tells us he's ready to go, he's that important and he'll play."

McLellan refused to call White's injury a concussion, although all signs point in that direction. White won't be allowed to retrun until he gets a doctor's clearance, McLellan said.

White’s head bounded off the boards on the collision, which occurred with 25 seconds left in the first period of the Sharks’ 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 of the first-round series on Thursday. White suffered a bloody nose on the play and appeared dazed as he was helped to the locker room by Sharks medical personnel. Here’s a look at the collision

“Obviously, I’m disappointed and upset with the decision," Stoll told reporters (via Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider.) I don’t want to miss any games, whether it’s regular season or especially the playoffs. I’m really disappointed with the decision but I respect it, and I respect Colin’s decision, to do what he did and give me the game.”

Stoll had a conference call earlier Friday with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. 

"I just explained what I was thinking and what I did and the play," Stoll said. "I was honest with them. I told them what I thought, and I think that was the best way to go about it.”
-- A.J. Perez
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