Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wings one win from sweep

Snow slides downhill in an avalanche, but if the Colorado Avalanche want to get back into their Western semi final with Detroit it’s a steep climb up the mountain that is in their future.

Colorado battled hard through a wild third period as they finally found some desperation hockey to try and regain some ground from the Red wings, but the comeback of the third featured everything but much need goals. Try as they might the Avs couldn’t pick up a third period goal to at least send game three into overtime and instead with the 4-3 loss, the Avalanche now face the rather unlikely task of taking four straight games from a finely tuned Red wing operation.

The Avs goaltending hasn’t been quite the same standard that Jose Theodore exhibited in the first series, he hasn’t been close to stealing a game for Colorado in this one and that perhaps is what the Avs needed the most, an early hard fought victory that might have set the Wings confidence back a bit. Though to his credit, Theodore made a number of key saves in game three that at least kept the Avs around in the early going setting up the scene for a possible third period comeback.

The pace of game three was much different for Colorado who counted two goals from Andrew Brunette in the second and third periods as a sign that perhaps this one might end differently. However, that third goal in the early stages of period three would be all that the Avalanche would collect, as Detroit survived the late game onslaught to collect win number three and set the stage for a potential sweep of the series on Thursday night.

Detroit seemed off their normal game on Tuesday, taking a number of surprising penalties including two separate instances of too many men on the ice, a trait you wouldn’t associate with a team that has been so polished through the regular season.

Defensively they allowed Colorado more space and more time in the third than has been the case in the previous two games, a breakdown in discipline that almost allowed the Avs back into the series.

But in the end no one but the coaches will remember the bad things about game three, the important thing and the one that counts the most was yet another win for the Wings, who seem inclined to make quick work of the Avalanche.

The mission could be completed in less than 48 hours, bringing to an end Colorado’s attempt to grab some of Stanley, by using some shades of the past.

Detroit on the other hand has more than shown the way to the future, with some unusual names claiming key goals and providing timely play in the course of the first two series so far, in the end the younger guns and future stars in Red have proven more than ready to add some more history to the Red Wing brand.

Detroit Free Press-- Wings-Avs rivalry is dead
Rocky Mountain News-- Avs on the brink vs. Wings
Rocky Moutnain News-- In big trouble
Rocky Mountain News-- Summer beckons for Avalanche
. Stats Pack

Sean Avery taken to hospital overnight, out for remainder of playoffs

The New York Rangers winger Sean Avery suffered a lacerated spleen during Tuesday night's game with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which resulted in him ending up in a New York hospital immediately following the game three loss to the Penguins.

Early reports on the health scare had Avery being rushed by amublance to hospital in a state of cardiac arrest, but the Rangers have since clarified many of the wilder rumours circulating about the wingers state of health, both pre and post hospital trip.

The Rangers couldn't identify at what point in the game that Avery was injured after a hit, though he wasn't playing his particularly agitating style of play since the midway point of game three on Tuesday.

He's listed by the Rangers as done for the season, though a full recovery is expected to take place in the off season.

New York Daily News-- Avery Hospitalized

Sharks swimming in dangerous waters

Despite their best effort in the second round, the San Jose Sharks could not overtake the Dallas Stars to grab their first win of the Western semi final.

The Sharks were leading the Stars as the third period clock worked its way to the final minutes of play, but once again, as has been the case for much of the Sharks playoff experiences, they couldn’t hold the lead, couldn’t find the winning goal and couldn’t take the victory and again like many seasons past they now stand on the brink of elimination.

Game three went into Overtime because of a power play opportunity in the early stages of the third period; the Stars still on the power play from a late second period penalty tied the game up thirty five seconds into the third frame.

From that point on the Sharks began to scramble, a pall of panic starting to seep into the defensive play, where for the first two periods the Stars were pushed out of scoring range they began to take control of it during the third and into overtime. The extra time would be short lived as Mattias Norstrom sent Stars fans into orbit with his overtime marker at 4:37.

The game seemed to be the Sharks to keep, they had more than enough chances early on, denied a goal after a quick whistle early on in the game, they none the less battled on, captain Patrick Marleau having the best game he’s had in Teal in recent memory, Evgeni Nabokov bounced back from game two’s misery to provide stellar goaltending including a heart stopping shut down on a Dallas penalty shot.

Yet, the talk in San Jose once again is of a team that regularly teases their fans, but never seems to be able to take the final steps to a Stanley Cup.

The Sharks have to jump back into game mode on Wednesday as game four is set to take place without a break between games.

Dallas eager to wrap up the series will be coming at the Sharks in full speed, looking to put them on their heels quickly and score a few goals early to make that hole just a little bit deeper.

For the Sharks they have but sixty minutes left in this season to try and salvage their expectations, one period at a time, one shift at a time, and most importantly with at least one goal more when the end of the game arrives.

National Post-- Older, wiser
San Francicso Chronicle-- Third periods plague San Jose
San Francisco Chronicle-- Sharks one loss from elimination
Dallas Morning News-- How we feeling this morning?
. Stats Pack

Perfection comes in a Penguin march

It’s quickly becoming the story of the playoffs so far, the ability of the Pittsburgh Penguins to repeatedly push aside their opposition as they march on towards the Stanley Cup finals, a date which seems more and more likely with each passing game.

The Pens remained perfect in the 2008 playoffs, having yet to suffer a loss in the first two rounds of the Quest for Stanley.

The latest success came Tuesday night in the heart of Manhattan as the Penguins scored timely goals and relied on an amazing penalty kill to once again defeat the New York Rangers, taking a 5-3 victory out of the Garden and a commanding 3 game to none lead into game four on Thursday night.

Game Three provided much of the same as we’ve come to expect from the Penguins so far in these playoffs, pinpoint passing, speed, hard hitting, excellent goaltending and scoring and more scoring.

The added feature to Tuesday night’s contest was the inability of the Ranger power play to provide the game changing goal; in fact the power play stumbled badly when needed the most, unable to turn a five on three advantage into anything resembling a decent scoring chance.

The less than stellar play of the power play found a less than friendly reception from the notoriously loud Ranger faithful, who turned their attention from the latest villain for New Yorkers, Sidney Crosby, so involved were they in their displeasure with the Rangers offensive output on Tuesday.

The Rangers also suffered from an untimely and unnecessary penalty when Ryan Hollweg took a boarding call late in the second period, resulting in Evgeni Malkin's series leading ninth point as he collected three points on the night, including two goals one of which was the eventual go ahead goal.
Evgeni was such a force on Tuesday that his scoring passion proved to be far too much for the over stretched Rangers. The penalty and subsequent Malkin goal, perhaps one of those moments that changes not only the momentum of the game, but maybe the series.

The Penguins look far ahead of the curve predicted for a young and learning team, they’re playing smart, fast hockey these days, racking up wins almost at will and making quick work of the series that they have been involved in thus far.

Unless the Rangers can find steadier goaltending, refrain from stupid penalties and provide a lot more offence, Game Four will be farewell night for Broadway, with the Pens moving their highly entertaining show on to the next city.

New York Post-- Pitt-iful
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Pens push Rangers to brink
. Stats Pack

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Word Championships wind down exhibtion round

The twelve teams competing at this years World Hockey Championships are taking a few notes as they wrap up the last few games of the exhibition round of play at rinks across Quebec and the Maritimes.

The preliminary round gets underway Friday evening, when host Canada takes on Slovakia, all of Canada's games will be televised on TSN.

Canada had split results over the last few nights with a 3-2 victory over Finland on Saturday, while they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Russians on Monday night in Quebec City.

Edmonton Sun-- Call him Captain Class

Inconsistency and missed chances prove troublesome for Habs

A collection of hit posts and missed opportunities in the first period, combined with a second period slump from goaltender Carey Price proved to be the recipe for success for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The early going seemed to be destined to go Montreal’s way, as they took the play into the Philadelphia end frequently in the opening period only to find frustration from goal posts, crossbars and a goaltender named Biron.

The Flyers goalie held his team in the early rough going, allowing the Flyers offence to begin to test Price in the Montreal nets through the first and particularly into the second period, which clearly wasn’t the Montreal goaltenders best period of hockey this season.

The Flyers took advantage of Price’s forgettable second period to push three goals into the Montreal net, holding a 3-0 lead as the teams headed into the third period. For the twenty minute lapse, Price was joined by his team mates who made a number of miscues that allowed the Flyers to gain control of the flow of the play, much to the delight of the hometown crowd. Rattled through the second, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau pulled his rookie for the third period sending in back up goaltender to face the Flyer onslaught, which when all was said and done on the night amounted to two shots.

Montreal battled back into the third recapturing two of the three goals against, coming up short for the equalizer as Biron closed the door after two, giving the Flyers the 3-2 victory and 2 games to one lead in the series. Montreal's fate seemed destined for the night when a too many men on the ice penalty brought their run to an end as the clock ticked down to full time.

Montreal’s missed opportunities mimic much of the last three games, where a wasted opportunity proved costly on the scoreboard as well as in the momentum of the game.

The Flyers who now have the lead will be looking to grab a stranglehold on the series with game four on Wednesday night, if Montreal is to avoid having to climb out of a large hole they will need a full sixty minutes of Price’s attention and a more consistent effort in the Philadelphia end of the rink.

Most of all though, perhaps a little puck luck might help, a bounce here and a clank there was the difference in game three, if some of those bounces go the other way on Wednesday the teams could head back to Montreal tied at two games a piece.

Globe and Mail-- Price is wrong
Montreal Gazette-- Flyers open 2-1 lead
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers outlast Canadiens in Game 3
Philadelphia Daily News-- Are the Flyers playing Canada's team?
. Stats Pack

Monday, April 28, 2008

Broadway bound Penguins firing with all assets

Whether it’s the dynamic duo of Crosby and Malkin or the hard working sidekicks like Staal and Hossa, offense is coming from all sides so far.
Feeding the puck you have a Sergei Gonchar who can move the puck with the best of them, together they and many more are all weapons that have so far left the Rangers frustrated and more importantly trailing two games to none in the best of seven series.

Game two on Sunday was much of the same, the fast pace of the Penguins moves the puck with regular progressions, once in the Ranger end they cycle the puck to distraction before firing off a snap shot, or make the crease wide pass for the easy tap in. It’s like watching as a practice board comes to life.

The Rangers at times have learned how to control and break up that flow, but it comes in to infrequent spurts, a play on the body occasionally strays to a holding or interference penalty, bringing on perhaps one of the leagues most dangerous power plays to play tic tac toe for two minutes.

Sunday’s game also re-introduced Marc Andre Fleury back into the mix, providing sixty minutes of shut out hockey and playing with a bit more of an edge in his own net, hacking and chopping at the Ranger forwards who were taking liberties with him and his crease.

The Pens are on such a roll at the moment that the stats jump out at you in glaring fashion, 23 goals scored in six games so far, only nine against., 91 per cent success on the penalty kill shut outs in two of their six games.

In the rare occasions when they trail in a game, at no point do they ever seem to be at a risk of losing, instead they seem to launch another wave across the blue line and storm the front eager to launch a barrage.

They move into enemy territory on Tuesday, few arenas in the NHL can involved the fans as much as the Garden, for every boo heard by Jaromir Jagr on Sunday, magnify the sound tenfold from the New Yorkers, who will let you know every time that Sidney Crosby has the puck.

The Penguins will be pressing early to gain a quick goal and to take some of the steam out of the Rangers Gallery Gods, should they succeed then Pittsburgh’s’ roll is set to continue much like clockwork, much like the way they’ve played each of their six playoff games so far this season.

CBC Sports-- Crosby gets the better of Jagr
National Post-- A N.Y. DILEMMA
New York Post-- Ranger Danger
New York Post-- No Excuses
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- Penguins take 2-0 lead
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-- The defense has Fleury's back
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-- Will Penguins sing Broadway blues?
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-- Cowardly Avery tried to take out Crosby
. Stats Pack

Richards helps fill the net in the tank

Those General Managers (those that are still employed) that took a pass on Brad Richards at the trade deadline discovered the value of the Dallas winger on Sunday night.

Richards proved to be one man too many for the San Jose Sharks as he collected four points in the final period, leading the Stars to a 5-2 victory over the Sharks and taking both home dates from the genial hosts.

The game started with an ominous beginning for the Stars, who seemed to have troubles early on getting into gear, frequently allowing the Sharks to pepper Marty Turco with shots, two of which found the mark by the end of the second period.

Heading into period three the Sharks were holding a 2-1 lead and should have been able to shut down the Stars to even up the series. But, Richards had other plans as he turned up the speed and pressure on the Sharks defence in the first minute of the third, tying the game up at the 22 second mark.

Shortly after that he assisted on three consecutive Stars goals, making for a four point day and a commanding lead in the series for his Star team mates. Richards output set a new team record for the Stars, who are finally beginning to see what much of the noise about the six foot centre was prior to trade day.

The Sharks for their part looked very ordinary in the third period, unable to summon up much of a comeback and mired in that uncomfortable feeling on a bench when you know something is slipping away, Evgeni Nabakov was lifted from the nets after the fourth goal, heading straight to the dressing room rather than taking a place on the bench.

His play rather symbolic of the complete meltdown of the Sharks in the third, goals were easy to score for the Stars, offence difficult to generate for the Sharks. With game three looming as the pivotal match of the series, the Sharks look very unprepared to mount a challenge against the Stars.

On a day when they needed the best game that they could pull out of the dressing room, San Jose instead wilted in the heat of the Stars attack. There was blood in the water at the Shark tank on Sunday, and the Stars know that they can put the Sharks one more step to expiration in game three.

The first twenty minutes of Tuesday’s game will tell much of the story for San Jose’s hopes for a serious run for the Stanley cup this year. Of those first twenty minutes go the way of the last twenty of Sunday; this series is for all intents and purposes done.

San Francisco Chronicle-- GRAND COLLAPSE
. Stats Pack

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Biron saves game two

Martin Biron pushed away thirty four of thirty six Montreal Canadien shots on Saturday night, in a command performance that provided the Philadelphia Flyers with a game two victory and tie in the best of seven series.

Biron was remarkable in the Philly nets as he frustrated wave after wave of Montreal attackers, with some outstanding saves that left many on the Montreal bench shaking their heads.

Philadelphia was outplayed for most of the game, but thanks to Biron was able to battle back to collect the 4-2 victory, at the other end of the rink, Montreal’s Corey Price continued on with a string of tentative goal tending, surrendering a goal early in the game that seemed to set Montreal back for a bit.

While they gave up two quick goals to the Flyers early, they managed to battle back through the second and third period adding to the pressure in the Philadelphia end, but Biron rose to the challenge, refusing to allow Montreal back into the game.

The game ended on a bit of an ugly note as the Canadiens Tom Kostopoulos took offence at the Flyers celebration of goal number 4, Kostopoulos fired off a left handed punch from behind at the head of Kimmo Timonen and then landed on top of the flyer for good measure.

When all of the ensuing drama had sorted itself out, Kostopoulos and the Flyer’s Scott Hartnell went to the penalty box for roughing, with the potential for further discipline looming large before game three on Monday.

In an interesting reversal of roles of late, Philadelphia's coach John Stevens was the one decrying the overly physical nature of the incident and his disappointment in the behaviour of the Canadien, a section of the NHL landscape that the Flyers rarely find themselves hanging around these days.

Philadelphia Inquirer-- Biron salvages win for Flyers
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Biron saves Flyers in Game 2
. Stats Pack

Franzen’s hat trick paces Wings to game two victory

“He’s got a hot stick right now,”—Colorado Avalanche coach Joel Quennville talking about Johan Franzen’s scoring chances and successful attempts

Johan Franzen is quickly becoming a household word in Denver, one most likely preceded or followed by a few choice blue words as well.

For the second game in a row, Franzen took charge of the Red Wing scoring, picking up his first playoff and career hat trick to lead the Wings to a 5-1 victory over an injury riddled Colorado Avalanche roster.

For the second straight game Jose Theodore’s cloak of invincibility failed him, as he gave up four goals on 20 shots before Peter Budaj was once again summoned from the bench for the second game in a row.

The last two games have proven to be a setback for the Avs, who were rising fast based on their handling of Minnesota. But now have seemingly returned to the days of endless losses to the Red Wings, from the six straight experienced from this season and a woeful record of playoff exits from back to 2002.

The Avs have two games at home to try and reverse their fortunes and begin to resemble the team that many saw heading into the playoffs on the highest of notes. One short series down and those highs are quickly forgotten memories in the wake of the thorough handling of games one and two.

A key to success may be to shut down the surprising Franzen, who has done as much damage on his own as have the Red Wings collectively. As goes Franzen, seemingly so go the chances for the Avs to change recent history.

Vancouver Sun-- Franzen a late bloomer
London Free Press-- Wings get a kick from Mule
Rocky Mountain News-- Avs thrashed by Red Wings
. Stats Pack

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Familiar theme floats to the surface for the Sharks

With lessons supposedly learned from a close series with the Calgary Flames, it was thought that the San Jose Sharks would be more proactive in their own rink as they entered game one of their best of seven series with Dallas.

The Sharks played host to Dallas on Friday night and quickly went to work firing shots at Stars goaltender Marty Turco, the only problem was that Turco wasn’t inclined to let too many of them in.

While San Jose could not capitalize on their opportunities, Dallas did, thanks to Brendan Morrow’s two goal performance on the way to a 3-2 overtime victory for the visiting Stars.

Morrow put the game away at 4:39 of OT when he and Mike Riberio took the play deep into the Sharks end to pick up the overtime marker and once again send the locals of the Bay area scrambling to try and figure out their Sharks.

The two teams play a similar style of hockey, though the first game of this series was conspicuous by the lack of hitting that the both teams faced in their opening round. Instead, the two teams seemed to be more like prize fighters feeling each other out in an opening round as they test each others blue lines through the first three periods.

The Stars win on Friday, spurred brave talk of a West coast sweep for Sunday’s game, something that would certainly send the alarm bells ringing again in San Jose, who seem to have problems putting away opponents when the time is right.

Frustrating for a team that creates more than enough chances to knock their opponents out of a game, yet frequently come up on the short end of the scoreboard. Sunday offers the chance to reverse that perception.

San Jose Mercury News-- Sharks can't close the deal in Game 1
San Jose Mercury News-- Seeing stars
San Jose Mercury News-- Dallas feels at home in S.J.
San Jose mercury News-- Modano haunts us again
San Frannciso Chronicle-- Get ready for the slog
. Stats Pack

Penguins scramble back to take opener

24 hours after their 5-4 victory the observations were bouncing around Pittsburgh at a frantic pace, from a suggestion that Sidney Crosby dove like a penguin after a fish, to an indoor greenhouse effect that reduced the paying surface to something akin to a product made famous by 7-11.

All of that the reaction to Pittsburgh’s impressive third period reply to the Rangers early lead, taking back a three goal lead to secure victory and take a one game to none lead in their best of seven series.

The Rangers appeared to be set for a rout when they attacked early getting quick goals behind the Penguins Marc Andre Fleury, yet the Pens never seemed to panic, instead they methodically stuck to their game, slowly taking the play away from the Rangers and eating away at the three goal lead.

The Pens took over the lead with less than two minutes to play on a Crosby shot on net that was knocked into the net on the deflection by Evginy Malkin. The Rangers nearly tied it up on their own with the seconds ticking away, with Jaromir Jagr denied when his shot rattled off a post.

Crosby generated controversy for the post game and day after with a penalty call late in the game which the Rangers suggest was generated by Crosby and his “theatrical“ ways, perhaps it’s their way of paying the league back for all the interest in Sean Avery’s activities of the first series.

Regardless of their thoughts, feeding the Crosby dives theory will at least make for closer examination of his ice time, and sew a few seeds of doubt among the refs, which perhaps is what they want in order to try and counter the explosive attack of the Pens.

One thing is certain, with the New York media playing up the angle that Crosby may embellish the odd call, the Ranger fans will now have a new name and face to add to their gallery of the scorned.

The ice surface also made for a talking point post game and Saturday as both teams admitted that the ice wasn’t at its best, but things aren’t expected to improve much once the series moves to New York.

Game one offered a generous helping of offence and some fascinating momentum shifts, the talk of the diving and such just shows that this series is building up to a boil, a hot plate that is being fueled nicely by the New York media.

Globe and Mail-- The comeback kids
New York Post-- OPEN & SHUDDER
Pittsburgh Times Review-- Penguins on a roll
Pittsburgh Times Rview-- Rangers play the crying game
. Stats Pack

Friday, April 25, 2008

Should old acquaintance be forgot…

It was flashback night in Detroit, as the Red Wings and Avalanche resumed their ancient rivalries of the last decade with a game one match up in their Western Conference semi-final. It was a game that showed a fair bit of contrast to those bitter battles of the nineties and earlier this century, this was a rather tame affair.

Given the international nature of the league now, there’s a good chance that many in the lineup on Thursday had no memories or knowledge of the McCarty/Lemieux chronicles that defined the hard nosed and occasionally violent match ups that these two teams provided.

The Wings had four goals on the scoreboard just into the second period, having countered the Avs early game one goal lead, a comeback that left the Avs baffled and a little shaken before they could manage a comeback of their own that came up just a goal short, a warning note for the Wings that they still have some defensive issues to work on should they hope to go farther in these playoffs

Johan Franzen paced the Red Wings on Thursday, scoring twice to lead the Wings to a 4-3 victory in the friendly confines of the Joe Louis Arena. Franzen who tends to fly below the radar on the Wings second line, combined with his line mates on a three point night, helping to take the play to the Avalanche and make the night an unhappy one for the Avs and their goaltender Peter Budaj, a second period insert for the ill Jose Theodore, who had given up those four goals prior to his departure.

The Wings held that lead until just into the second period, leaving the Avs baffled and a little shaken before they could manage a comeback that came up just a goal short, a warning note for the Wings that they still have some defensive issues to work on should they hope to go farther in these playoffs

Colorado on the other hand showed the resilience that we’ve come to expect by the Joe Sakic led team, where no lead is insurmountable and no effort to late to get back into a game. Given a few more minutes and few breaks or bounces and the Avs could have been talking about having stolen the first game out of Detroit, now they need to gear up for a split and then a return home to Denver, where perhaps the memories of battles past will rekindle this long simmering rivalry. Stats Pack

Canadiens second efforts, leave Flyers second best

The Montreal Canadiens pulled ahead for the only time on Thursday night, when Tom Kostopoulos picked up his own rebound and fired the Canadiens fourth goal of the night behind Martin Biron.

The goal forty eight seconds into the first overtime provided Montreal with their game one victory and one to none lead in their best of seven series with the Philadelphia Flyers. It capped a hard fought comeback by Montreal, who frequently found themselves frustrated by the Flyers during regulation time.

Philadelphia jumped into a quick 2-0 lead in the first period, controlling the flow of play and silencing the Bell Centre crowd as they quickly found the mark on Carey Price, briefly rattled in the early going, Price settled down from that point on and would let only one more goal in behind him.

The Habs then began their comeback process, gaining two goals in the second period, and the third tying goal with less than thirty seconds on the clock in the third, when Alexei Kovalev fired in the goal, his second of the night, to send the game into overtime.

From there the Canadiens came out fast in the first overtime frame, taking the play deep into the Philadelphia end, digging in the corners to keep it moving and then taking advantage of Kostopoulos’ second effort to put away the Flyers in game one.

The momentum shift from the last stages of period three had carried over into the Overtime and the Flyers couldn’t hold off the attack until they could settle things down. Unable to clear the puck from their end, Philadelphia instead watched as a potentially tough earned road victory slipped away from their grasp.

The message however will remain with Montreal for the rest of the series now, yet another team which offered little to no resistance in the regular season, is ready to up the intensity and effort in the playoffs, with a few bounces the Flyers may find a different result should they keep that same effort in place for the rest of the series.
Montreal Gazette-- Habs steal opener
Philadelphia Inquirer-- French toast
Philadelphia Inquirer-- In a blur, Flyers lost to Canadiens
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Flyers fall to Canadiens in OT
Philadelphia Daily News-- Flyers-Canadiens recap
. Stats Pack

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gillis gets down to work

With little in the way of kind words for the state of his new project, former player agent and now General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks Mike Gillis addressed the media on Wednesday to give his state of the Canucks address from day one.

Stating that he didn't think that Canucks were even close yet to fielding a potential Stanley Cup winner he outlined a number of areas of concern that he wanted to address.

High among them was to make sure that franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo was a happy Canuck, rumblings in the always paranoid state of hockey in Vancouver was that Luongo was less than content with the state of his new club, leaving the anxious Canuck fans worried that he may want to leave the team at the first possible opportunity. This despite a contract that will make him a Canuck for a few years yet.

Other concerns for Gillis were the team scouting which he doesn't feel has been up to a high standard (and something that ran contrary to former GM Dave Nonis' comments last week after his firing) he also didn't know if the Sedin's were the two key playes to build an offence around, a statement which will have the rumour mills flying with potential trade possibilities all through the off season.

The path to running the Canucks is still a bit of a mystery, with Gillis not volunteering too much about his relationship with the Canuck owners the Aquillini's nor would they provide a time line as to how they contacted him and when.

All this secrecy coming out of the GM Place bunkers is going to make for a very interesting off season as the traditionally inquisitive Vancouver media seeks out more details about the teams new GM and his plans.

His arrival hasn't been universally praised by the fans of the Canucks, who have been quick to flood the sports talk shows wondering if he's up to the job and if the Aquillini's have any idea as to how they are running their team.

A sample of the feedback can be found on Wednesday morning's Bill Good Show on Vancouver radio station CKNW, which featured feedback on the Canuck announcement for the 8:30 - 9:30 hour.

From listening to he program, Mr. Gillis might need the thickest of skins should he wish to survive the full term of his five year contract.

Quest for Stanley: Second round results

We archive the results from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs


Saturday, May 3 PHILADELPHIA 3, Montreal 2
Wednesday, April 30 PHILADELPHIA 4, Montreal 2
Monday, April 28 PHILADELPHIA 3, Montreal 2
Saturday, April 26 PHILADELPHIA 4, Montreal 2
Thursday, April 24 MONTREAL 4 Philadelphia 3 (OT)



Thursday, May 1 DETROIT 8, Colorado 2
Tuesday, April 28 DETROIT 4, Colorado 3
Saturday, April 26 DETROIT 5, Colorado 1
Thursday, April 24 DETROIT 4 Colorado 3

DETROIT WIN SERIES 4 games to none


Sunday, May 4 PITTSBURGH 3-New York Rangers 2 (OT)
Thursday, May 1 NEW YORK R 3, Pittsburgh 0
Tuesday, April 29 PITTSBURH 5, New York R 3
Sunday, April 27 PITTSBURGH 2, New York R 0
Friday, April 25 PITTSBURGH 5, New York R 4



Sunday, May 4 DALLAS 2, San Jose 1 (4 OT)
Friday, May 2 SAN JOSE 3, Dallas 2 (OT)
Wednesday, April 30 SAN JOSE 2 , Dallas 1
Tuesday, April 29 DALLAS 2, San Jose 1 (OT)
Sunday, April 27 DALLAS 5, San Jose 2
Friday, April 25 DALLAS 3, San Jose 2 (OT)


Convincingly Golden

Canada’s Under 18 squad secured the gold medal on Wednesday, with a punishing 8-1 victory over the host Russian team.

In a game where the outcome was never in doubt, Canada took a commanding 5-0 lead out of the first period and added three more goals before receiving their gold medals, a win that erased the sting of their only loss in the tournament, to the same Russian squad during the preliminary round.

The Canadians came out fast, showcasing both their skill and character as they dominated all facets of the game, leading to the most lopsided victory in the history of the Under 18 tournament.

Canada’s quick start knocked the Russians on their heels for most of the game, and the five fast goals in twenty minutes all but had the white flag running up at the Russian bench before the first intermission was even over.

Taking coach Pat Quinn’s game plan and executing it to the letter had the coach singing the praises of his young players in post game interviews, where he talked about the way the team came together during the pre tournament period and more than proved themselves as the games continued on.

The gold medal win marks the second time that Canada has taken top honours since the tournament was created back in 1999, Canada did not participate in the tournament for the first three years, joining the roster of teams in time for the 2001 tournament.

Canada now is one gold away from tying both the Russians and Americans who have collected three gold medals each at the World Under 18s .

Canadian Press-- Canada rolls to gold at world under-18s

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Canucks set to select Gillis to run their team

All signs out of Vancouver are pointing to Player Agent Mike Gillis being named as the Vancouver Canucks new General Manager on Wednesday.

The Canucks who dismissed former GM Dave Nonis following their elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, will be facing a few pointed questions from the Vancouver media over their decision to go with relative inexperience in the upper offices of NHL management.

Gillis who has represented a fair number of past stars in the NHL such as Pavel Bure, the Courtnall brothers and Mike Richter as well as currently representing the Canuck's captain Markus Naslund, will now attempt to rebuild the Canucks for quick success, if all goes according to rumour tomorrow.

He was once considered before for the job, prior to the Brian Burke era, back when he perhaps Gillis was still a more vital cog in the hockey scene.

His rumoured appointment has already increased the dynamic between ownership and the media, with more than a few organizations and media debaters giving the idea a solid thumbs down, having looked for an expected a larger name with high profile and track record. Many had felt that long time Canuck Steve Tambellini was the logical choice, while others longed for the return of Pat Quinn or Brian Burke, the latter a notion that never really gained much traction.

Check out the CKNW Radio archives for a sampling of the Tuesday feedback to the prospect of the Gillis years to come. NW sports editorialist Neil MacRae offered up his thoughts at 8:15 am, while the Dan Russell sportstalk radio program from 9 pm to midnight, featured the fiery debate as well.

Vancouver Province-- Gillis good to go
Vancouver Province-- Appointment has 'wow' factor
Winnipeg Sun-- Bridesmaid again

Flyers bring an end to the Caps run

Cinderella missed the pumpkin coach on Tuesday night, as the Washington Capitals came one goal short of advancing to the eastern conference semi finals. The Caps surrendered their early lead to end up in overtime and couldn’t score the winning goal that would have kept their story rolling through one more series at least.

The Flyers took advantage of an overtime power play situation and banged in a puck that had eluded Christoabl Huet, a goal to celebrate back in Philadelphia as they now prepare to move on to meet the Montreal Canadiens.

Washington, young and energetic produced some of the most entertaining and exciting hockey of the last eight weeks in the NHL, from the exploits of Ovechkin and Backstrom, to the rebirth of Huet, Cooke and Federov there was much to like about the over achievers from the US capital.

While there will be disappointment in not traveling further down the path towards the Stanley Cup this year, there certainly is hope and now expectations that better things are soon to come in the next few years for hockey in DC.

For the Flyers the series win returns them to a level of hockey that they haven’t had to face in the last few years, another young team that started to come together at just the right time.

The had fought victory over seven games with the Capitals, did much to erase those early season memories of an almost goon like squad, ready to inflict as much pain and suffering as required to get the job done.

Instead they provided an effort of determination and grit, to not let setbacks derail their plans. At points in this series they looked every bit as dominant as those legendary Flyer teams of the past, though in other moments they still very much resembled the work in progress that they are.

It’s that inconsistency that still leaves a few questions about them, some of which will be examined fully we’re sure as their series with the Habs moves along, game one is Thursday night in Montreal.

Washington Post-- It's over (for now)
Washington Times-- Over and Out
Washington Times-- Lupul regains his confidence
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Capping it off
Philadelphia Daily News--Flyers-Capitals, Game 7 recap
. Stats Pack

The Flame snuffer

A four point night from veteran Jeremy Roenick proved to be too much of an offensive burst for Calgary’s Flames, who surrendered a lead in the second period for good and watched as Roenick laid waste to their hopes of advancing in this years Stanley Cup playoffs. It was a performance that will go down with the other stories of Roenick's ability to raise his game in the clutch moment of a game seven showdown.

The nine minute lapse in the second period proved to be all that the Sharks needed to finally put away the pesky Flames with a final score of 5-3, on a night where there would be no let up allowed and no remarkable come back in the cards, though the flames never gave up trying.

The night began much better for the Calgarians than it would end, as Jarome Iginla evened up an early Shark lead and then Owen Nolan scored a go ahead goal, giving many the feeling that once again history was about to hand San Jose a set back. However, the Flames could not capitalize on that momentum, when it became time to press the Sharks in their own and try to secure an insurance goal San Jose fought back.

Instead, the Sharks turned up the temp of the second period, led by Roenick who frequently found himself in the right places at the right times whether to dish off a puck or fire a shot at an embattled Miikka Kiprusoff, who still to that point had done much to keep his team alive. Too many Flames stood still in that eight minute breakdown, giving the Sharks much of the ice in the Calgary end to work with and taking advantage of the opportunities as they became available.

Mike Keenan returned to his Captain Hook days as he pulled Kiprusoff after goal number four, bringing Curtis Joseph back for an encore performance in this series. In part to change the dynamic of the game and perhaps to try and recapture some of the enthusiasm generated in game three after a similar situation resulted in that remarkable comeback. This time however, the Sharks struck quickly putting goal number five behind Joseph to push the margin just a little bit further and nip any comeback ideas in the bud.

Keenan's controversial decision to remove Kiprusoff with the main debating point for another long off season in Calgary, where early round playoff exits are becoming an unfortunately common occurrence.

Calgary earned back one more goal before the night was over, but they were sufficiently shut down by the Sharks that the outcome never really seemed in doubt by the time the midway point of the third came around.

The Sharks now move on to the Conference semi finals with the Dallas Stars set to arrive for Friday nights game one, a series that features two teams that have had troubles successfully closing out a series over the last few years.

It’s a record that suggests that yet another seven game series may be on the horizon.

San Jose Mercury News-- Sharks' best is plenty good
San Jose mercury News-- Roenick rides to the rescue
San Francisco Chronicle-- SHARKS TANK FLAMES
Calgary Herald-- Flames lose Game 7
Dallas Morning News-- Cue the theme from Jaws
. Stats Pack