Friday, June 13, 2014

King Henrik and the Rangers look to keep the LA KIngs from their Stanley Cup throne


Whatever it is that the coach says in that Neflix film, it seems to work.

New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault made mention of that now viral moment of television commercial fame. Tempting reporters with the prospect of a reproduction, then dashing from the press conference prior to game four, no doubt to deliver his Netflix night at the Improv act in the Ranger dressing room.

The speech it appears worked quite well, New York finally finding a reward for hard work assisted mightily by their goaltender, with Henrik Lundqvist having the kind of night that Rangers fans were waiting for in this final round.

Once again, when elimination was on the horizon, King Henrik rose to the occasion shutting down the Kings, lifting New York to the 2-1 victory and sending everyone packing for Los Angeles and game five tonight.

Wednesday's success was all on King Henrik, as Lundqvist faced 41shots over the course of the three periods, a good many of them in the frantic final twenty minutes of play as the Kings put on the pressure to try and make a sweep of things.

As they have in all four games, Los Angeles has seem to grow more confident with every shift, game four was no exception and if not for the work of Lundqvist, Lord Stanley's mug would no doubt be around a pool somewhere in Hollywood by now.

The brooms however were destined to be put away, the Rangers live on and should they make the most of their Friday night on the west coast, they'll be back in the Gardens for Monday night, with the Stanley Cup then very much a riveting series.

But first things first, the task at hand is to play Game five period, by period, looking to get out to an early lead and then hold off what will be a tireless attack from an LA team that would clearly love to reward their fans with the visual of the Stanley Cup skated around Staples Centre.

For coach Vigneault, there was really only one movie for viewing on the flight across North America...

For the Rangers, there  is really only one theme for Friday night...

Some previews of Game five can be found below:

Rangers seeking 'redemption' in L. A.
Rangers don't alter lines for Game 5
Richards' Rangers truly believe they are Kings' equals
Why Lundqvist will force a Game 6 in New York
Time for NY Rangers to be road warriors against Kings to bring series back home
Brad Richards fine with role on NY Rangers' fourth line
About time for Rick Nash to cash in with a goal for NY Rangers
A little light reading before Game 5
Kings will be at Staples Centre; but where will the Stanley Cup be?
Kings 'get ready to go again' in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final
Los Angeles Kings believe there's room for improvement despite heavily outplaying New York Rangers in Game 4
Los Angeles Kings plan to make their own breaks in Game 5 against New York Rangers
Conn Smythe Trophy vote will be between New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist and up to five Los Angeles Kings players
Kings at finish line of Stanley Cup marathon
What Kings need to do tonight to win Stanley Cup
Rangers have accomplished only survival
Kings wary of Rangers resolve
Kings can hoist Stanley Cup on home ice again

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kings take stranglehold on Cup Final

Fifteen shots normally might suggest that the outcome on the night wasn't quite what had been hoped for. But when you put three of the fifteen in the net and hold off an opposition attack that featured 32 shots and no goals, things, one might say are going your way.

As the final moments of Game three played out in New York City, the Los Angeles Kings on the strength of some stellar goal tending from Jonathan Quick now find themselves but one victory away from another skate around the rink with Lord Stanley's Cup.

It's no surprise, that when you do a word count on the reviews of last nights 3-0 Kings victory, the name of Jonathan Quick probably top the list. He was that dominating on Monday night, that pivotal to the Kings holding a three games to none lead in the best of 7 Stanley Cup final.

32 shots, no goals last night, three games of strong play and no wins so far in the series, the frustration level for the Rangers must be getting close to being off the charts by this point.

From the lost opportunities of the first two games, which saw the Kings come back from deficits to claim a pair of home ice victories, to the overwhelming control of play that went unrewarded from the Hockey Gods on Monday night, the Rangers are quickly running out of time and opportunity to launch what would be a comeback for the ages.

For Rangers fans, a frantic first period turned to disaster with but one tick of the clock to go, as a Jeff Carter shot deflected off the seemingly star crossed Dan Girardi, the puck finding its way into the back of the net and providing the Kings with an opening goal to take into the second period.

The night of bad bounces continued in the second as Jake Muzzin  on the Kings power play, fired a puck from the point that drifted off the glove of Martin St. Louis, with Henrik Lundqvist left to watch helplessly as the puck claimed the net and pushed the Kings lead to 2 goals.

Mike Richards put the finishing touches on the Rangers late in the second period, an attempted pass deflecting off of Ryan McDonagh and coming right back to Richards who suddenly found a gaping bit of space and a Henrik Lundqvist going in the opposite direction, an opportunity presented for Richards to shovel the Kings third goal of the night towards its destination.

It's been that kind of a series for the Rangers, who must feel as though after three rounds of a story that could have been a movie plot, they now find that it's morphing into a horror flick of epic Hollywood proportions.

What's left for Alain Vigneault to do, is to try and wring every ounce of energy and push back from his team for Wednesday's Game Four. A task that is providing as vivid an example as there could be, of filling the quota on taking things one game at a time.

One item for motivation purposes may be to point to the competition for Wednesday, highlighting how the Kings down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks battled back to salvage that series and launch their lengthy march to the Stanley Cup Final.

The only problem for Mr. Vigneault, the Kings, they aren't playing like the Sharks.

And the Rangers, it would appear, have exhausted any kind of puck luck reserve that would come in handy right about now.

The Stanley Cup will be back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, making an appearance for the first time since a Ranger Stanley Cup victory in 1994.

If the Gallery Gods of Madison Square hope to see it back for an encore, the home side is going to have to find a way to solve Mr. Quick and shut down a Kings team that plays as tenacious a game as seen in a long time.

So daunting is the challenge ahead for the Rangers that even the ticket scalpers of New York City have run up the white flag, with asking prices for Game Four down 20 per cent and falling.

When you've lost the ticket scalpers, the omens for the Rangers would appear truly dire.

The Boxscore and recap of Game three can be found here.

Some views of Game three can be found below:

Luck has left the building for the Rangers
Jonathan Quick at his best puts Kings at doorstep of Cup championship
Kings on verge of second Stanley Cup title after 3-0 win over Rangers
Kings' run to the Stanley Cup could be the best L. A. has ever seen
One more win and Kings will be in a Stanley Cup championship state of mind
Los Angeles Kings put it all together in win over New York Rangers
Jonathan Quick shuts out NY Rangers as Kings take 3-0 series lead
NY Rangers try Rick Nash on power play, but still ineffective
Jonathan Quick and King erase excitement and hope out of NY Rangers and Madison Square Garden
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick makes memorable debut at MSG in Stanley Cup Final
Jonathan Quick has Kings on verge of another crown
Jonathan Quick comes up big for Kings
Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick shuts out New York Rangers to take 3-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final
Jonathan Quick saving Kings
Rangers down, all but out

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Kings put Rangers on thin ice with 2 game to 0 lead heading back to New York City

Getting off to fast starts isn't working particularly well for the New York Rangers, who have seen two consecutive games slip away at the hands of a rather resilient, if at times lucky Los Angeles Kings squad.

Considering the amount of hockey that both teams have played on their way to the Stanley Cup Final, the prospect of extra minutes tacked on is most likely something that you would think that the Rangers and Kings would want to avoid.

But, two games into the East Coast/West Coast showdowns, playing on has taken a whole new meaning.

Game One saw the Kings chip away at the Rangers two goal lead of the first period, taking things into a fairly quick Overtime session, which saw Los Angeles claim its first victory but four minutes into the extra frame. With Justin Williams capitalizing on a Dan Girardi turnover to secure the Kings the first W of the Best of Seven Series.

Game Two once again found the Rangers storming off the bench to stake themselves to a two goal lead, something which as we may be learning is about as welcome as root canal.

The Kings found themselves down the two goals heading into period number two, quickly grabbing
one back before the period was but two minutes old.

The Rangers would regain their two goal margin by mid period but holding the advantage would prove troublesome, the Kings turn right around and shaving the difference by one again three minutes later.

The pace of the game though would deliver the Rangers yet one more chance to try and secure a road win, as eleven seconds later they were back in the lead by two goals, a 4-2 spread that would hold until the start of period three.

The Kings revisited a familiar theme in the final twenty, clawing their way back from what seemed like a likely defeat to  closing the gap and then drawing even all before the eight minute mark.

And while there were many chances for both teams to try and snare what could have been the winning goal in regulation time, neither could find the range, setting the scene for the next thirty minutes of desperation hockey.

Not one, but two Overtime periods would play out at the Staples Centre, a first frame of twenty where the chances were there, but the goal tending and defensive assignments held the day.

The second overtime appeared that it may be going the same route as the first as each time found space in the others end, but could not deliver the final marker to secure victory. Until the 10:26 mark of period, the 90th minute of play on the night when Dustin Brown tipped in a Willie Mitchell shot, providing the Kings with  the victory and a commanding 2 game to 0 lead.

For Alain Vigneault's Rangers the frustrations must be in the process of getting into their heads, two consecutive games where in lengthy stretches they clearly outplayed their hosts, only to watch them hang on, recharge and then take charge of the game at key moments and now with the prospect of closing down the 2014 season in New York by Wednesday.

The Rangers will need to focus on the positives of their play in California, banishing the turnovers and at times sloppy mistakes that provided the crack for the Kings to break games open.

New York's season comes down to the knowledge that there is no longer any room for error, two more losses and 2014 will marked in the playoff journals as the year the Rangers came close to recapturing the passion of 1994, only to see it slip away to a tenacious Kings squad that seemingly never lets doubt get in the way of the path they are following.

Two more wins and that path takes them home to LA and another chance to show off a trophy or two.

National Post-- Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown scores in double overtime for another comeback win over New York Rangers
CBC Sports-- Dustin Brown does it all for the Kings
New York Post-- Rangers lose heartbreaker in double OT, now in 2-0 hole
New York Daily News-- NY Rangers drop second straight to Kings on Dustin Brown deflection in 2OT loss
Newsday-- Lead squandered, Rangers just can't cash in on big chances in 2 - OT loss to Kings
Los Angeles Times-- Kings Game 2 win is a masterpiece
Los Angeles Daily News-- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown scores double overtime goal for biggest play of post season
USA Today-- Comeback Kings grab 2-0 series lead vs. Rangers
The Hockey News-- Dustin Brown scores OT winner, Rangers blow another lead in Stanley Cup Final

Stanley Cup 2014 -- The Stanley Cup Final

Our archive page for the reviews of the Final Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

New York Rangers vs Los Angeles Kings

June 4-- New York 2 at Los Angeles 3 (OT)
June 7-- New York 4 at Los Angeles 5 (2 OT)
June 9-- Los Angeles 3 at New York 0
June 11-- Los Angeles 1 at New York 2
June 13-- New York 2 at Los Angeles 3 (2 OT)

Los Angeles wins the Stanley Cup Final 4 games to 1

HockeyNation notes on the series

June 13-- King Henrik and the Rangers look to keep the LA Kings from their Stanley Cup Throne
June 10-- Kings take stranglehold on Cup Final
June 8-- Kings put Rangers on thin ice with 2 game to 0 lead heading back to New York City

Back over the boards for the final round

Well, a fair amount of time has passed by between our sitting out the first round and our re-entry into the reviews of the Final Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A planned break that became more of an extended absence, ( longer than we originally planned) the prospect of trying to catch up to the weeks missed a more daunting prospect than originally expected.

With that as a preamble, it's time to try and recapture some of the run up to this final round, providing at least a bit of a close to the 2013-14 season.

To start the process off, a recap of the Path to Stanley through the first three rounds.

Stanley Cup Recap (Rounds 1 through 3)

As we play a little catch up hockey, we'll quickly review how April morphed into May and the path that led Los Angeles and New York to the Stanley Cup Final. We return to our blogging efforts with the Kings and Rangers and a guy named Stanley.

Round Three

Chicago vs Los Angeles
Los Angeles advances 4 games to 3

Montreal vs New York Rangers
New York advances 4 games to 2

Round Two

Chicago vs Minnesota
Chicago advances 4 games to 2

Los Angeles Kings vs Anaheim Ducks
Los Angeles advances 4 games to 3

Boston vs Montreal
Montreal advances 4 games to 3

Pittsburgh vs New York
New York advances 4 games to 3

Round One

Minnesota vs Colorado
Minnesota advanced 4 games to 3

St. Louis at Chicago
Chicago advanced 4 games to 2

Anaheim vs Dallas
Anaheim advanced 4 games to 2

San Jose vs Los Angeles
Los Angeles advanced 4 games to 3

Boston vs Detroit
Boston advanced 4 games to 1

Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Montreal advanced 4 games to 0

Pittsburgh vs Columbus
Pittsburgh advanced 4 games to 2

New York at Philadelphia
New York advanced 4 games to 3

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Start the Playoffs without me!

We will have to play a little catchup on the blog when it comes to this years Stanley Cup Playoffs, as we will be away from our post for the next ten days.

Upon our return, we'll try and pick up the theme of the first round of the Stanley Cup, hopefully with all of the series still a going concern with many of the match ups going to their full seven games.

Enjoy the games, playoff hockey and the first round in particular always seem to offer up the most emotion and some of the best in excitement.

For those with a favourite team still playing hockey in April (for Canadians there's but Les Canadiens this year, making wide swaths of the land perhaps free agents this Spring) good luck, we hope that your squad goes the distance.

For those of us who said our farewells to the playoffs in late March or early April, the Stanley Cup ritual may be a little different this time around, who knows we may find a new default time by the time June rolls around.

We're taking a few shifts off... but we're not leaving the game.

Back to work on the 25th, maybe sooner if the traffic is clear.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

In Vancouver, it's Mr. Gillis that is sent to the stage coach first


With their Stanley Cup dreams officially dashed on Monday evening and the singing of the crowd (such as it was by the time the game ended) still no doubt ringing in the ears of the Aquilini's, the Vancouver ownership made their first move towards the future on Tuesday.

Dismissing Mike Gillis as General Manager and setting in motion a day long festival of rumours, with many participants offering up their view as to what the new plan will be by the time that Francesco Aquilini  holds his press conference on Wednesday morning at 10:30 Vancouver time.

The Canucks an under-performing team in the second half of the NHL season, spiralled out of the playoff hunt it seems back in January. Destined now to play out the schedule through to the weekend, most likely with a wary eye as to what is going to happen next in the gong show that they have become in 2014.

Gillis became the first casualty of a horrid year, the the guy that renovated a team that came one win from a Stanley Cup championship just a few years ago, but now could not scrape their way into the last playoff position with the simple ability of a timely winning streak.

Handed over a team built by Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, the Canucks ruled the West in subsequent seasons, Rogers Arena a place where opposing teams once knew a hard night was at hand.

Through this year, the stopover in Vancouver for the most part had become an R and R port call, particularly for the juggernauts of California, where the playoff hockey will be a featured presentation through the spring.

The Mike Gillis era was one that provided for questionable trades, lengthy contracts and a Goaltenders soap opera that in the end sent both of the team's Blue chip goaltenders to different teams, both leaving with few tangible returns coming back to the Canucks.

Three moments this season provided the exclamation marks on the year, the John Tortorella meltdown with the Flames, that sent him to exile for an extended period of time and started the slide to irrelevance that the season became.  That obviously was not a Gillis issue, but one that the coach was solely responsible for.

The second key moment, the benching of Roberto Luongo in the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic, the first signal of the fans discontent raining down on the Canucks from the expanse of BC Place.

Whether that was a Gillis decision or a Tortorella one, the fans volume was the warning shot that this year was entering a dangerous phase.

The trade of Luongo to Florida only added to the pitch of the anger. Not so much that Luongo was gone, for most suspected it was coming, but more to the way that the whole mess had been handled and that was all on the Gillis watch.

The final mis-calculation if you will, when Gillis appeared on a Vancouver radio station and effectively threw his coach under the stage coach, seemingly daring the owners to make a decision, as to who would stay and who would go.

And while Mr. Tortorella may not yet be safe (though there are a few million reasons for him to have another season, all of them in Canadian currency) Mr. Gillis wasn't, terminated the day before the season ticket holders have to make their decision to renew.

The dismissal of Gillis a sacrifice to the Hockey Gods of British Columbia, the move on Tuesday an answer to the public relations disaster that Canucks hockey has become.

Where they go for 2014-15 perhaps will be explained more fully in the Wednesday morning Aquilini press conference, the consensus on a late Tuesday evening is that the first stage is the re-emergence of Trevor Linden into the Canucks corporate fold.

With any number of roles being suggested as where Linden will be slotted into the rebranding exercise.

As for the product on the ice, no trade contracts, lengthy contract lengths and a coach who just signed on all will greet whomever the Canucks decide on to take over the pivotal role of General Manager.

The Gillis blue print was one that had to be approved by the owners, it was a foundation plan that clearly has now left the Canucks in a huge bind.  The first job of the next aspirant to the job will be to rebuild, a challenging job to begin with, let alone with the number of land mines left from the old regime to deal with.

There are many unanswered questions of this season.

The Tortorella hiring, while a burst of energy in September, has proven to be a puzzling fit for the team he was given. One imagines if he's to remain as coach, the players that fit his style will have to be brought in.

The inability of Gillis to get much value out of the majority of his trades and his botched handling of the two top goaltenders all leave the impression of the sense that perhaps the owners may have been offering too much interference for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

All are issues that need to be addressed, things that any prospective GM's will no doubt be giving much thought towards.

How the Aquilini's are going to sell their vision to any would be GM is going to be key to the future for their investment, tis a mess, but the owners have no one to blame but themselves.

Accountability has been in short supply in Vancouver all year, players, coaches, General Managers and  most importantly owners. The time for someone to step up and say this is on me has arrived in Vancouver.

Over to you Mr. Aquilini.

Vancouver Sun-- Canucks fire President and GM Mike Gillis
Vancouver Sun-- Mike Gillis made some major moves for Canucks
Vancouver Sun-- It's time for Trevor Linden to come in from the cold
Vancouver Sun-- Trevor Linden, Bob Nicholson top candidates to head Canucks
Vancouver Province-- This is now on the Aquilinis
Vancouver Province-- Canucks owners had to stop the bleeding by firing Gillis, experts say
Vancouver Province-- Naslund could be coming back to Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Trevor Linden likely a Canuck again
Vancouver Province-- Tortorella plugs his ears and soldiers on
Vancouver Province-- The mob howls and Gillis is lynched
Vancouver Province-- Feaster's famine: Torts' buddy hungry to get back into GM's role
Vancouver Province-- Linden-as-president would have cachet in this market, but Linden keeping Tortorella here would keep this disaster rolling
Georgia Straight-- Vancouver Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fans got their wish with Mike Gillis firing
24 Hours Vancouver-- Canucks fire president and GM Mike Gillis, rumoured to be bringing in Trevor Linden
National Post-- Mike Gillis fired as Vancouver Canucks GM after team eliminated from playoff contention
Globe and Mail-- Canucks dump Gillis after six years at the helm
Gobe and Mail-- Why Mike Gillis deserved to be fired
Sportsnet-- Vancouver Canucks fire GM Gillis
Sportsnet-- Canucks ownership needs to step aside
TSN-- Canucks relieve Gillis of President and GM duties
CBC-- Mike Gillis deserved to be fired after Canucks imploded
CBC-- Canucks fire General Manager Mike Gillis

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Headlines of April

Our Archive of Headlines for April

April 15-- Florida Panthers win NHL draft lottery as Buffalo Sabres drop to No. 2
April 14-- With Toronto Maple Leafs' hiring of Brendan Shanahan, MLSE truly becomes Tim Leiweke's organization
April 13-- Canucks 5 Flames 1: Season ends on sad note as Daniel Sedin stretchered off ice
April 12--  "It was an awesome experience": Oilers' 5-2 win over Canucks marks end of Smyth career
April 11-- New Canucks president Trevor Linden has inherited a fine mess in Vancouver
April 10-- Brendan Shanahan to be named president of Maple Leafs
April 9-- Trevor Linden handed keys to Canucks kingdom as new President
April 8-- Canucks fire President and GM Mike Gillis
April 7-- Ducks officially eliminate Canucks, 3-0
April 6-- Blues lose again, this time to Chicago
April 5-- Leafs can kiss playoffs goodbye after loss in final home game
April 4-- Hockey Canada President, CEO Bob Nicholson wants legacy to be about "kids playing the game"
April 3-- San Jose Sharks edge Los Angeles Kings in possible playoff matchup
April 2-- Toronto Maple Leafs need to give coach Randy Carlyle more time
April 1-- Ottawa Senators keep playoff hopes alive with win over Carolina Hurricanes

Playoff bound Vigneault makes return to Vancouver

Tonight's match up between the Canucks and Rangers offers up one of those ironic bits of timing that the Vancouver front office and ownership could probably have done without.

As the Canucks slide further and further out of contention for a playoff spot in the West, the opposing team's coach arrives in town looking ahead perhaps to how his team will navigate the NHL East looking for a placement in the Stanley Cup Final come June.

The reception for Vigneault will be an interesting thing tonight as the Rangers take to the Rogers Arena ice, it was under his stewardship that Vancouver came as close they may ever get to a Stanley Cup parade for the foreseeable future.

The suggestions of last year that the Canucks had become too complacent, too predictable on the ice, something that fans probably can only wish for now, such has been the implosion of the team in the last season.

That's not to hang all the problems of the team on the head coach, he clearly hasn't been helped out by his bosses, who have made some choices this year that clearly haven't provide John Tortorella with the kind of team he is comfortable with.

The team he inherited in September, was very much Alain Vigneault's team, built through the years to the kind of game he wanted his squad to play, a style obviously a little different than what his replacement would find familiar.

The bottom line for the former coach is he has some hockey to play later this month, while his former team has a lot to think about as to where they wish to be when the next season comes around.

Right now, which team do you think that Vigneault wants to be a part of?

Considering the attention that the Vancouver media is putting on tonight's game, you get the feeling that they had this date circled on the calendar for a while now.

Vancouver Sun-- Vancouver clings to faint playoff hopes as road warrior Rangers come calling
Vancouver Sun-- As Canucks fall, Rangers on the rise
Vancouver Sun-- How will Vancouver hockey fans greet Alain Vigneault?
Vancouver Sun-- Comparing John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
Vancouver Province-- Burrows affirms bond with Vigneault
Vancouver Province-- Alain Vigneault says key to success is adapting style of play to team you've
Global BC-- Alain Vigneault back in Vancouver Tortorella on Vigneault's return to Vancouver: "We're losing games so I'm the idiot"
MetroNews-- Alain Vigneault all business in second return to Vancouver, as Rangers prepare to face Canucks
CBC-- Alain Vigneault returns to face Canucks in Vancouver
TSN-- Vigneault returns to Vancouver as Rangers face Canucks on TSN

Not to be left out, the New York media has some thoughts from a different perspective, anxious to chime in on their potential reunion with the Rangers old coach as well.

New York Daily News-- Alain Vigneault has NY Rangers rolling while John Tortorella is on hot seat with Canucks
Newsday-- John Tortorella true to form in assessing 'swap' for Alain Vigneault 
New York Post-- Good chance Tortorella gets fired after this season