The Penguins/Flyers series has been beyond shocking. Many people predicted that the Flyers would win the series. Many predicted the Pens. (In fact, according to today’s NBC broadcast today, the Penguins were favored to win not just the series, but the Cup in Vegas. Looks like many will lose money on those bets.)
The Penguins I’ve seen in the last three games will be lucky to pull off a single win. (Thanks to David Lassen, I’ve corrected this post – David pointed out that THREE NHL teams have come back from being down 3-0 and the Flyers did it in 2010 – how could I have forgotten that one? My apologies!)
Would today’s game have ended differently if Fleury had been pulled earlier and the Penguins had time to step up their defense in front of Johnson? We’ll never know.
Instead, the game degenerated into something like the Flyers of old playing… the Flyers of old. The Penguins stepped right into the Flyers’ way of doing things and in an odd twist of fate the Flyers kept it together and took the high road.
The Flyers and Penguins are both teams capable of scoring a lot of goals, but who would have guessed that both of their number one goalies would take the first round of the playoffs off? 32 goals in 3 games? That’s insane for the Stanley Cup Playoffs – especially for two of the top three teams (ranked by points without preference to winners of other divisions) in the Eastern Conference. You can’t blame all of the goals on the goaltending, since clearly the defenses have been taking a serious break, but it’s been like a comedy of errors (for Flyers fans, anyway – doubt the Pens fans see anything comical in this mess).
At least there have been a lot of other exciting series’ so far this round. The only other series in this year’s playoffs that’s not split after 2 games is the Kings/Canucks series, which started out just like the 2010 Playoffs for both teams. The Devils and Panthers start their 2nd game shortly.
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone – surprises and all…
Tags: Canucks, Devils, fighting, Flyers, Hockey, Ilya Bryzgalov, Kings, Marc-Andre Fleury, NBC, NHL, Panthers, Penguins, playoffs, upate
Tonight’s embarrassing loss by the Kings in front of their fans in their home closer at Staples Center probably means they dropped from 4th place (where they started last night’s game in Anaheim) to 8th place in a little over 24 hours. The Kings are currently in 7th place, but as long as the Blackhawks get a point in tomorrow’s home and season closer against the Red Wings, the Kings will finish in 8th. The Ducks weren’t even guaranteed a playoff spot until they beat the Kings last night in Anaheim and now they’ve moved from just barely making it into the 8th and final playoff spot to clinching 4th place and home ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ducks ended the season with one of the best records in their last 10 games to make sure they got into the playoffs and are now in a similar situation to their 2009 position where they’ve been playing playoff intensity hockey out of necessity in preparation for the playoffs and have been finding ways to win in spite of their number one goaltenders (Jonas Hiller) injury.
In contrast, the Kings have one of the worst records in their last 10 games and are just barely limping into the post season. They’ll probably face the #1 team in the NHL in the first round, since the Vancouver Canucks are clinched the President’s Trophy a while ago and are in the western conference. Randy Carlyle talked about how far the Ducks have come from where they were a couple months ago in spite of the challenges they’ve faced since then. He credits the players for solidifying their group and said they’d earned this position. Carlyle laughed as he said, “I don’t think anyone picked us to be with home ice advantage at any point, but it’s funny the way things fall in your lap if you continue to win your fair share of games.”
With under 3 ½ minutes to go almost everyone on the ice ended up fighting each other. Not surprisingly, there was no third man in penalty. It was most surprising to see Teemu Selanne (generally mild mannered and the oldest player on either team) face off against Brad Richardson. It started with shoving during a puck battle along the boards, but deteriorated fairly rapidly. For a bit, it seemed like goalies Jonathan Quick and Dan Ellis might get involved, but according to Ellis, they really just talked about how they had no desire to fight. He went on to say that he was so tired that “if he were to punch me, I’d be right down on the ice. I might have just laid right down anyway.” The fans who stayed in Staples Center for the end of the game got to see a bigger fight than in most NHL games and many fans enjoy the fighting aspect of hockey games, but the Ducks fans were definitely the only truly happy fans exiting Staples Center tonight.
Tags: Brad Richardson, Canucks, Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, fighting, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Quick, Randy Carlyle, Red Wings, standings, Staples Center, Teemu Selanne
Preseason games often have a lot of fighting. This is true even more in rookie games, since everyone seems to be trying to get noticed. (This is common knowledge, a friend of mine who barely watches hockey even asked me if I thought a game might break out at the fight tonight – I said I wasn’t expecting it.) Fighting is always a big crowd pleaser, but when there seems to be as much fighting as 5 on 5 hockey without it, serious hockey fans can get a little frustrated… a possible problem when the only fans who will attend a preseason rookie game are the most loyal fans.
Tonight, the Toyota Sports Center was packed with fans who watched their team’s rookies lose to the Coyotes’ rookies (who rode out to LA on a bus) 6-1. The Kings scored the middle goal of the game and the crowd went wild. Of course, the fans also cheered for the fights, but their team had a lot more fights than goals and the fans need to find entertainment value in the game.
However, I still think the best way to enjoy a preseason game of any kind is to sit with good friends who also really know the game. That way, you can discuss the players fighting, potential pronunciations (though most of us figure we’ll learn the names of the guys who actually make it – most of the guys in the rookie tournament won’t be in the NHL this coming season and many won’t be on the Kings when they do), the give-aways, the hits that take players out of position, the break-out player moments, and (in tonight’s case) maybe even how the other team is outplaying your team.
I personally enjoyed the second period of tonight’s game the most and it had nothing to do with the Kings scoring their only goal a little more than half-way through the period, though as a Kings fan that was a definite plus. No offense to those I watched the 1st & 3rd periods of the game with, since we had a lot of fun talking; however, Bob Miller sat next to me for the 2nd period and hearing his stories more than made up for the quality of the game and the fact that the Kings’ rookies weren’t doing too well against the Coyotes’ rookies. Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty & HockeyTalk.biz kept telling Bob he needs to write a second book (an idea I fully support), since he has so many great stories that didn’t make the cut for the first book. Those who were lucky enough to catch Bob Miller’s One Man Show at Hockey Fest at the end of last month got to hear a few of the anecdotes that didn’t make the cut for Bob Miller’s Tales from the Los Angeles Kings. I’m sure many of the Kings fans would join us in pre-ordering Bob’s next book if/when we’re given that chance.
Tags: Bob Miller, Coyotes, fans, fighting, Hockey, Kings, NHL, preseason, rookie camp, rookies, Toyota Sports Center
It’s very different to attend a game as a fan. The last NHL game I had attended as a fan was game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Pittsburgh last year (May 31st, almost exactly a year ago). Same teams, same venue and also the only games I attended as a fan last season. Though I was kicking myself a little for not trying to get credentials worked out in case I could afford the flight back to Pittsburgh for the finals, a large part of me is glad. There’s something about being able to get your face painted and jump up and down and lose your voice cheering for your team. It’s a lot of fun. I’m not saying I don’t have a blast as a member of the media. I do. I’m very thankful for the access I have and really appreciate all the Kings, Ducks, Eklund, and many others have done for me in that area.
I traveled all day to get to game 3 of the finals in Pittsburgh. (I left my house around 5 my time and had gotten very little sleep last night.) So, I’m not completely coherent, but we had a great time at the game tonight. My sister’s favorite player is Maxime Talbot. She predicted that he’d get a goal early and he scored within a minute or so of that comment. Naturally, she was totally thrilled that he got (and deserved) the number one star of the game. Not only did he get half of the goals the Pens scored tonight (true, one was an empty netter, but what a decisive empty net goal), but Talbot created a lot of other opportunities and hit the post once.
It was nice to see that there were fewer blatant missed calls in tonight’s game. With any luck, that will continue.
Jordan Staal had a very good game in spite of being absent from the score sheet. He did have 3 blocked shots. Evgeni Malkin increased his scoring lead from 2 to 4 points with his three assists (Sidney Crosby only had one tonight). I may not have a voice and my throat is definitely sore, but it was great to scream like crazy. I have a whole day to recover before I really need my voice again.
I really like that they had a special moment to thank Versus for allowing the Penguins to show the game outside on their big screen in front of TONS of fans. NBC is not allowing them to do that (not even for the finals) and I think it’s a very sad statement. Personally, I think Gary Bettman should have tried to iron that one out. I understand that it’s in NBC’s contract, but the NHL keeps talking about trying to expand the game and gain fans. The party atmosphere OUTSIDE the Mellon Arena for the game looks amazing (if the pre-game atmosphere was any indictaion). The fans are great and that’s what it’s all about. The Pens aren’t charging for the service, so I don’t understand NBC’s issue. If I were a Pens fan who wanted to do that, I would make sure everyone I knew did NOT watch at home, so I could lower the ratings as much as possible. I’d tell everyone to go to one location (a bar that would have it on anyway – Pittsburgh doesn’t have an NBA team, the only thing people care about around here is the NHL Finals – talk about a switch from southern California where it’s all about the Lakers) to watch the game and fight the urge to record. I know many people (like me) even record the games they attend, so they can watch certain plays again when they get home.
The Red Wings still lead the series, but the Penguins have definitely shown that they have life and I’m sure most Penguins fans are happy with the way the tide has changed a bit in Pittsburgh. Needless to say, Hossa got booed pretty much every time he touched the puck. I’m sure you could hear it on TV at times. Fans here in Pittsburgh have good reason for booing him and I’m not really against booing when it’s the other team’s player and with a good reason. (As many of you know, I always frown on booing a player on your own team.)
I hope you’re all enjoying the finals as much as I am.
Tags: booing, Evgeni Malkin, fans, fighting, Gary Bettman, Hockey, Jordan Staal, Marian Hossa, Maxime Talbot, Mellon Arena, NBC, NHL, Penguins, Red Wings, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup Finals, Versus
Jonas Hiller may have the save percentage (and he’ll probably still lead the save percentage for the playoffs by the end of the Stanley Cup Finals), but Osgood’s save percentage of only 88.89% in game 7 was enough to advance the Red Wings to the conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, where they’ll have home ice advantage again.
The Ducks looked sluggish for much of game 7, but still managed to fight back from a two goal deficit to tie the game at 3 goals apiece at 7:37 in the 3rd period. Near the end of the third period, it was obvious that the next goal would win the game. Unfortunately for the Ducks fans and team, the next goal was scored by Dan Cleary with exactly three minutes left in the 3rd period. It was the game (and series) winning goal for the Red Wings.
Detroit is a tough team and the Ducks should be proud of what they accomplished this post season. Game 7 of the series could have easily gone the other way. It was a very close game (unlike the Penguins/Capitals game last night) and to keep the game that close in Detroit is very impressive.
I think the Red Wings are beatable largely because of Osgood’s poor play in the regular season and playoffs, but not this time. It’ll be interesting to see how Detroit fares against Chicago.
As a side note, though it was frustrating last night, the fact that FSN West/Prime Ticket didn’t have their act together ended up saving me and allowing me to watch the entire game. Since they had the game listed on none of their stations (HD or otherwise online or in DVR guides) and I only get one of their two HD channels, I recorded the game on FSN Prime Ticket and FSN HD. Since the Angels game went into extra innings, but first period of the game was only available in southern California on Prime Ticket. I guess that’s the advantage of Versus as a channel – they don’t air anything else right before the games that can’t be cut off to move on to a hockey game. I guess that’s the up side of being on a network a lot of people don’t get. True, most carriers offer Versus now. Of course on the down side, Versus is a paid channel for most, so people who don’t purchase the sports package probably don’t have Versus. This is most noticeable when traveling and trying to find Versus in a hotel.
Tags: Blackhawks, Capitals, Chris Osgood, Ducks, fans, fighting, FSN, game 7, HD, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, Penguins, playoffs, Red Wings, Versus
In spite of their two bench minors for too many men on the ice (inexcusable in a must win game) and two other power play chances they gave the Red Wings, Anaheim’s penalty kill kept Detroit’s power play at bay for 3 of their 4 chances. Anaheim’s power play (ranked 2nd in the postseason going into tonight’s game) was also successful 1 out of their 5 chances (though it was really more like 4, due to the overlapping penalties). Fortunately for Ducks fans everywhere, most of Anaheim’s 46 penalty minutes, 12 penalties) came at the 20 minute mark of the 3rd period when the gloves were dropped by just about everyone (Scott Niedermayer included). Until that point, the Ducks were even with the Red Wings in penalties at 5 (10 minutes each).
Jonas Hiller was amazing again, stopping 38 of the 39 shots he faced (97.4% of the shots). The Red Wings outshot the Ducks 39-28, but the Ducks played much better after the first period. Considering how poorly the Ducks played in Detroit on Sunday, I expected them to come out with all cylinders firing at the beginning of the game tonight. Apparently, they didn’t all get the message that the game time had been pushed up to 7 p.m. (all the previous playoff games in Anaheim had been at 7:30 p.m.). The Ducks came out looking a little tired, but by the end of the first they were still tied with the Red Wings and that was important. They came out strong in the 2nd and got the only two goals of the period, in spite of being outshot by the Red Wings in that period.
When the Red Wings scored their power play goal, a lot of Ducks fans got a bit nervous. A one goal lead is far from safe in the playoffs – especially against a strong team like the Red Wings. The Ducks held on to their lead and are ready to play their style of game again in Detroit Thursday night in game 7. In spite the pressure of a game 7 on the road, the players know this is what the playoffs are all about. The excitement of a game 7 is hard to match.
Thursday’s game will be the Ducks’ 4th game 7 in franchise history. They’re 2-1 in game 7s so far. The Joe Louis Arena is a difficult arena to face in the playoffs. In a game 7, it’s sure to be incredibly loud, but the Ducks are as prepared as possible and they’re ready to face Detroit and fight for their playoff lives. They know if they don’t win their season is over and no team is ever really ready for their season to end.
Ryan Getzlaf had a point in each of the Ducks’ 2 goals tonight (1-1), making tonight his 7th multi-point game of the postseason.
Fortunately for Ducks fans who couldn’t make it to Honda Center tonight, FSN Prime Ticket aired the game in HD (even for those of us unlucky enough to get only one of the FSN HD channels).
Tags: Ducks, fans, fighting, FSN, game 7, HD, Hockey, Honda Center, Joe Louis Arena, Jonas Hiller, NHL, penalties, playoffs, power play, Red Wings, Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Niedermayer
Since the 1985-86 season when the Presidents’ Trophy was introduced, only 7 of the winners have won the Stanley Cup in the same season. Of course, only four other Presidents’ Trophy winners had lost in the first round of the playoffs (the most recent being the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Edmonton Oilers in 2006). The Ducks became the fourth team to knock the Presidents’ Trophy winner out in the first round of the playoffs. Were they surprised? Not at all. The whole playoffs, the Ducks have been saying they didn’t think they were out of their league and they could beat the Sharks. Clearly, they were right. Throughout the playoffs, I didn’t talk to many people who had predicted the Ducks would win before the playoffs started. Most people I talked to before the playoffs thought my Ducks in 6 prediction was completely nuts. They told me how the Sharks had performed in April didn’t matter and their history of collapsing in the playoffs didn’t matter. I disagree. The Sharks ended the season just cruising and barely hanging on to their league best record and while I realize that history isn’t always a good indicator of the future since teams change, a lot of the current team were a part of the Sharks teams that lost in the conference semifinals the last few years.
The start of the night (Getzlaf dropping the gloves as soon as the puck dropped – 2 seconds into the game – and fighting Thornton) may have surprised a lot of fans and media, but Randy Carlyle & Ryan Getzlaf were not surprised. They had discussed the Thornton/Getzlaf fight idea and whether it was a good idea. Carlyle told Getzlaf it was his choice. He said he’s never been the type of coach to send a player out to fight, but he was happy with Getzlaf’s choice.
Hiller continued to look amazing in net and though the Ducks couldn’t stay out of the penalty box for long (12 penalties, 30 minutes) neither could the Sharks, who had exactly the same penalty minutes. Hiller kept the Sharks to one goal on the power play (they were 1-4), while the Ducks went 2 for 5 on the power play.
Since they’ve beaten the team with the best record in the NHL this season, the Ducks have a lot of confidence going into the series against the Red Wings. The Red Wings clearly have an amazing playoff history and swept the Blue Jackets in the first round, but the Ducks still believe they can compete at a higher level than they have so far and face the Red Wings with confidence. After saying that they’d think about facing the Red Wings tomorrow and for now they’d enjoy their win, Randy Carlyle joked that he decided he’d give the team a half hour to enjoy the win, then it’s back to work.
Tags: Blue Jackets, Ducks, fans, fighting, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, Oilers, penalties, playoffs, Presidents' Trophy, Randy Carlyle, Red Wings, Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Thornton, Sharks
When the Ducks came back from being down 2-0 after 2 periods, it looked like they were going to buck the trend of the team that scores first winning the game in this series. The Sharks started off the scoring at 7:25 in the 1st period and added to that with a goal at even strength in the 2nd period. The Ducks scored two in the 3rd period (one just 55 seconds into the period, both at even strength) to tie the game and take it into overtime. The fact that the Sharks managed to come back and win it in overtime is a little surprising after giving up the lead. Historically, the Ducks have done much better in the playoffs than the Sharks, but these are different teams than the ones that created those numbers. The history is fun to think about, but it’s really not an indication of how a different team wearing the same jerseys will perform. Marleau scored the game winning goal at 6:02 in overtime.
Surprisingly enough, the Ducks and Sharks were even on penalties (3 each) and the Sharks scored the only power play goal of the game. The Sharks outshot the Ducks almost 2-1 again (48-25) in spite of having the same amount of time on the power play.
Hiller played very well tonight and allowed the Ducks the chance to fight back and make it into overtime, but the Sharks got the win in the end. The Versus announcers praised Hiller throughout the game. I’m not saying that he didn’t deserve it – he made some great saves, but I think the announcers were missing the fact that Nabokov made some really amazing saves, too. The Sharks did shoot the puck more, but they weren’t the only team trying to score.
Clearly, it’s always best to end a playoff series at your first opportunity, but the Ducks have been good at bouncing back after a loss and returning to the Honda Center for game 6 allows them the opportunity to advance to the next round in front of their home crowd.
The bright side for Ducks fans who live in southern California and have been attending the Ducks’ home games is that tonight’s game was the first away game televised in HD for Orange County, CA residents. Since the game was only on Versus, they did not block out the Versus HD feed. FSN Prime Ticket did air Thursday night’s game in HD, but for those who attend the home games that was only helpful for a replay here or there. So, at least they got to see their team lose in HD rather than having to watch the standard definition feed.
Plus, their team will return home Monday night and the fans can be there to see the Ducks advance in person to the next round. Clearly, the round isn’t over yer, but the Sharks would need to win the next two games when they’ve only won 2 out of 5 games in the series so far and haven’t won back to back games in the playoffs yet. It can be done, but less than 10% of the teams down in a playoff series 3-1 come back to win the series, so it’s pretty unlikely.
Tags: Ducks, fans, fighting, FSN, HD, Hockey, Jonas Hiller, NHL, Patrick Marleau, playoffs, power play, Sharks, Versus
We’re all used to hearing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” after games now and it’s clear that the Kings haven’t stopped. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” a rock ballad by Starship, may be another appropriate song for this season’s Kings. Last night, the Kings (who many had counted out of the playoff race a while ago) ended the Canucks’ winning streak – a streak that included a regulation win against the Sharks who have only 12 losses in regulation this season. Roberto Luongo and his team were on a roll, but the Kings didn’t let that stop them. Don’t tell any of the Kings that in spite of being only 3 points away from 7th – 9th in the conference they are unlikely to get into the playoffs. They don’t need to hear that. All they can do is control how they play and they believe that if they play their best they can make it.
The problem isn’t that the Kings are 3 points away from a playoff spot. The problem is that in spite of being only 3 points away from 7th place the Kings are in 12th place and only 6 points ahead of 14th. If the Kings were in the eastern conference, they would be 9 points out of 8th place, but only 11th in the conference. Those extra teams between the Kings and 8th place are very important. While the Kings can control their play, they can only control how the other teams do on a few occasions (when they play Nashville & Dallas twice, Edmonton, & St. Louis). Most days, they can only control themselves and for the next four days the Kings will practice as other teams play and hope that the games work out in their favor. Clearly, at some points, the teams the Kings need to lose for them to move into playoff position will play each other. All the Kings and their fans can hope for when the teams around them in the standings play each other is for a regulation win on one side or the other. If three points are handed out in those contests, it hurts the rest of the teams contending for a playoff spot.
The Kings look happier than I’ve seen them – ever. I didn’t have access to the Kings the last time they were in the playoffs. Lately, their playoff hopes have been over pretty early in the season. At this time of last season, the Kings were trying to make themselves feel better about the fact that none of the games they played mattered. There was no way they could make it into the playoffs and they all knew it. The excitement of the playoffs and trying to get into the playoffs is what the players love. They live for the exhilarating games. Now, the Kings are fighting for a spot and every game is like a playoff game. They know how much each game means and they’re battling to get every point. One game at a time… The team realizes it’s a long shot, but they believe they have the power to make their dreams of making the playoffs come true and perhaps believing will make all the difference. Most Kings fans certainly hope it will.
The Kings will be in Vancouver on Friday to face the Canucks again (after the Canucks play in Anaheim Wednesday) & in San Jose to play the Sharks Saturday. They return to Staples Center on Monday to face the team currently in 8th place, the Nashville Predators. It’s a rough road, but the Kings having fun trying to get to the playoffs and the fans that are attending the games are having fun with them. Last night, the Kings had an announced attendance of just under 17,000 fans. Sure, many of these fans were cheering for Vancouver, but Staples Center was fairly full. There are only four home games left in the regular season and the fans are enjoying their team’s excitement and energy as they fight to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Tags: Blues, Canucks, Ducks, fans, fighting, Hockey, Kings, NHL, Oilers, playoffs, Predators, Roberto Luongo, Sharks, Staples Center, Stars
The Kings don’t appear on US National TV at all this season (unless you count the NHL Network airing CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada), but they did make it onto the Hockey Night in Canada schedule. CBC does a much better job with HD than FSN, so it’s good to watch some of the highlights at home after the game from CBC’s coverage. (Initially, I was annoyed that FSN chose to make all their HD games home games of the Kings or Ducks, but once I saw the terrible “rinkside view,” I was thankful that I wouldn’t have to watch that for an entire game, since I’d be seeing the games live.)
Tonight’s game was a rough loss for the Kings, but it still demonstrated how much fun their young team is to watch this season. The Kings play with a lot of energy and it’s good for the rest of North America to get the opportunity to see them play. Hockey Night in Canada is watched by a ton of viewers. Hopefully, they stuck around to watch the second game and were able to enjoy this entertaining game.
It was fitting that Oscar Moller got both of the Kings’ goals tonight, since it was his 10th game in the NHL and the first game after he was told he was staying in LA and not being sent back to juniors. Moller now has 6 points in his first 10 NHL games, leading the Kings rookies and near the top of the NHL rookie list.
In the beginning of tonight’s broadcast, Kelly Hrudy mentioned that he thinks Dustin Brown might be the most underrated captain in the game today, since “he’s gritty, he hits hard, and he has a great scoring touch.” I have to agree with Hrudy. Dustin Brown is definitely an extremely underrated player. I think that’s true of many players who fight hard to stay in front of the net, but Brown has the distinction of typically having the most hits and not having many penalty minutes. Most of the guys who battle to be in front of the net seem to rack up a lot more penalty minutes.
Tonight’s show was also Marc Crawford’s first Hockey Night in Canada broadcast in LA since being fired by the Kings after last year’s next to last place finish as head coach of the Kings. He was actually at the game Thursday night, but Hockey Night in Canada did not broadcast that game.
Tags: CBC, Ducks, Dustin Brown, fighting, FSN, HD, Hockey, Hockey Night in Canada, Kings, Marc Crawford, NHL, Oscar Moller, rinkside view, Staples Center