Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
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 1:59 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 10:34 pm
 

Flyers to start Boucher, Leighton to backup

As suspected, there's a new starting goaltender for Philadelphia tonight. Perhaps unsuspected is that all signs point to there being a new backup, too.

After struggling to the tune of three goals surrendered in seven shots, rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher, a move that helped the Flyers come back to beat the Sabres and even their series. Coach Peter Laviolette said Monday that it will, in fact, be Boucher starting Game 3 in Buffalo.

"Brian came in last couple of times and has done a really nice job for us in there," Laviolette said. "He’s on top of his game and in charge of his net. He bailed us out of a couple of situations and I really feel he deserves to go in there and play."

As far as the backup spot, per csnphilly.com , Philly will return to the tandem it used in last year's playoff, at least on Monday.

We know it’s Leighton because he and Boucher have full lockers while Sergei Bobrovsky does not. He has a tiny little stall that can’t fit equipment.
So there you have it.

Philadelphia made its improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year after getting in on the final day despite not having a go-to goaltender. The hope was that would be resolved this year, and Bobrovsky would be the reason why. The Russian rookie was superb in net early in the season, but faltered some as the season wore on. So it was widely assumed he would have a short leash this postseason.

Leighton played in 14 games last postseason, posting an 8-3 record to spur the Flyers. But this year he played just one game with the big club, being placed on waivers at one point.

-- Brian Stubits

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 18, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:28 am
 

Tortorella: Rangers 'aren't far off'

New York Rangers coach John Tortorella preached patience -- at least in news conferences -- after his team dropped the first two games of the first-round series. He didn't have to do that after the Rangers broke through with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, but he did anyway.

Here's the best of Tortorella's chat with reporters Sunday, along with Chris Drury and Henrik Lundqvist:


 
 
 
 
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