Game two of the Stanley Cup Final ended in similar fashion to game one….dramatically, and in overtime. Dan Paille scored the game winner when Brendan Bollig of the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t clear the puck out of the zone and now the series goes back to Boston tied at one game a piece. In brief, the first period was all Chicago as they peppered Tuukka Rask for 19 shots while holding the Bruins to 4. After that, Chicago meandered through the balance of the game, and seemingly became slower as Boston appeared to look fresher. Two teams that again are so evenly matched are giving fans all the drama, excitement, and disappointment that they can ask for. Andy why not? After a long and useless lockout, what else could the NHL do but give us extra hockey?
* Three Stars for game 2 from Puck Daddy.
* More NHL Awards were announced last night with the Florida Panther’s own Jonathan Huberdeau winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie. NHL.com.
* Outstanding article by Eric Duhatschek about the Hart Trophy which was won by Alex Ovechkin. Globe and Mail.
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The drama of game one of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins has set the bar for the balance of the series. A thrilling overtime victory by the Blackhawks in what is now the 5th longest Cup Final game in history, came after each team had numerous chances to score, but were thwarted either by a great defensive play, or a miraculous save from either Tuukka Rask or Corey Crawford. The depth of the Blackhawks proved once again to be invaluable in this one, as players like Andrew “I Love Shinpads” Shaw scored the game winner from a shot by defenceman Michael Rozsival that went off Dave Bolland’s stick, then off of Shaw’s pad. As teams exchanged chances well into the night, you could see the legs of the Bruins getting heavier and the conditioning of the Hawks taking over. Meanwhile as I remained intensely calm, the noises coming from @LilMissRatTrick who sat at the opposite end of the sofa, changed their pitch with each and every missed opportunity.
Neither team deserved to lose, but the Hawks who have been on a roll all season long got the “bounce” that good teams get when playing this way. However, this is not to say that this series is lopsided by any stretch of the imagination. Two very evenly matched teams that play different styles, yet have the ability to adapt when needed, will prove to make this series one for the ages. The Bruins who might be without ex-Panther Nathan Horton who has a shoulder injury kept attacking, but gave up numerous shots. In their defence, they also blocked almost as many. The Hawks on the other hand seem to have another gear to shift into, and with such a long rest between games, could show that tonight. The Hawks gave up their fair share of chances as well, but Corey Crawford who has been outstanding throughout the playoffs was once again, “Crawsome”. Buckle up people. The ride’s gonna be rough, but more than worth hanging on for.
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The fans of Chicago waited 49 years for the Blackhawks to win a Stanley Cup, and after a few near misses over the years, they did just that in 2010. Tonight the journey begins once more, just three seasons later as the Hawks take on the Boston Bruins in an original six matchup that hasn’t happened since 1979 when the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers. As the playoffs began, my dream matchup would have been the Hawks taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins so that once and for all I could release the anger of 1992 that’s been gurgling in my stomach. Nonetheless, this will certainly do, and promises to be one H-E- double hockey sticks of a series that will leave one team beaten and bruised, and another jubilant and rewarded. And absoutely exhausted.
While the Blackhawks had to stave off elimination during the post season, the Boston Bruins dug themselves into a huge hole when they saw themselves on the brink of elimination down 4-1 in Game 7 against the Leafs. As we all know, Boston came back from a three games to one deficit to beat the Maple Leafs of Toronto, and did so in thrilling fashion. They then quickly disposed of the Penguins, holding them to two goals over four games, as Tuukka Rask appeared to be a brick wall that couldn’t be cracked. The Bruins led by the always charming Claude Julien, figured out a way to contain all the scoring threats of Pittsburgh in that Eastern Conference series, and maintained a stranglehold on the Penguins offence that will be talked about all summer. The Bruins offer toughness from all four lines, their six defencemen, and will make it difficult for the Chicago forwards to penetrate the offensive zone. The same was said of LA’s defence, however the Blackhawks figured out a way to expose their weaknesses, and use their overall team speed to apply all the pressure on goaltender Jonathan Quick.
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With NHL free agency set to begin on July 5th, teams around the NHL will soon be faced with the tough task of evaluating just how much their current stock of both restricted and unrestricted free agents are worth. Given their often uncertain futures, most impending free agents will be looking for the biggest cash grab they can find – as it may end up being their last big payday in the NHL. While some players are willing to accept the price tag that their current team places on them, other skaters often seek greener pastures – and I of course am referring to the green tint of cash.
Of all of the Panthers’ upcoming free agents this offseason, none are more tightly linked to current General Manager Dale Tallon than 26-year-old RW Jack Skille. While many fans remember Dale Tallon as the man whose drafting of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane led to the resurgence of the Blackhawks franchise, most forget that he first placed his hopes with another young skater – the aforementioned Jack Skille.
Panther Parkway Radio took a bit of a hiatus, but we’re back in action!
Host: Paige Lewis
Guests: Frank Rekas and Jameson Cooper
Stanley Cup Finals
Potential Florida Panther Buy Outs
Click the link below for tonight’s podcast!
We welcome and encourage comments and feedback!
Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, JJameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530. Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.
The opening montage from Hockey Night In Canada to start off last night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings. The song is The Funeral, by Band of Horses. Premonition at the time?
* The Three Stars for Saturday night from Puck Daddy.
* Did Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks “steal” one last night? Maybe. Kane however picked the perfect time to light things up. The Committed Indian.
* The Kings were emotionally drained as well as beat up. NHL.com.
* Oilers fire coach Ralph Krueger. TSN.ca.
* Hawks and Bruins will be the first original 6 Stanley Cup Final since 1979. Globe and Mail.
* A look at learning the game. Backhand Shelf.
* The Dallas Stars ink aging defenceman sergei Gonchar for a cool 10 million over 10 years. Puck Daddy.
Finally, I’d like to add that while this is primarily a Florida Panthers site, we will always take a look at other NHL news. And since I was born and raised in Chicago, there will always be some sort of coverage on the Blackhawks (we need to know how Frolik is doing right?). As we head into the Stanley Cup Final, there could be even more. If you are a Panther fan, you can watch, read and learn something about a team that was in dire sraights just a decade ago, and for for many years. General Manager Dale Tallon was instrumental in building that team as they went on to win their first Cup in 49 years when the Hawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. The plan is for that to be done here in South Florida as well. Like I’ve had all post season with the Hawks, I have faith. Faith that the Hawks will do what needs to be done, and faith that Tallon will be allowed to do what he needs to do to change the direction of this Florida Panthers hockey club.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
P.S. The Springsteen shirt is 7-1. #TheBoss
Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: me @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530. Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.
Game four between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings was to be a pivotal game in the series. The Hawks were up two games to one, and had just lost their best defenceman Duncan Keith for this game, who has possibly been their best player this postseason. The Kings on the other hand were 22-0-0 on home ice when scoring first, had won game three, and seemed to have found a spark in youngster Tyler Toffoli. The Kings shut down the Hawks in game three just enough to prevent them from creating much offence, and frustrated their skilled players, and made Patrick Kane of the Hawks virtually invisible. The winner of game four had the chance to take a stranglehold on the series, or even things up. For a brief moment it looked like Los Angeles was about to turn the tide.
However this isn’t the same Blackhawks team that struggled with the Phoenix Coyotes last post season, nor is it the same team that took the Vancouver Canucks to seven games in the opening round the year before. Matter of fact, this Blackhawks team could be even better than the team that won it all in 2010. While not annointing the Hawks champions at this point since the games must be played, the men with four feathers on their sweater did the little things on Thursday night, and overcame the adversity of being without defenceman Duncan Keith. This was no easy task, but the Hawks did all the right things at the right time to take a commanding lead in the Western Conference final, and are now in the driver’s seat tonight with game five to be played at the Madhouse on Madison.
Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks will go into game four against the Los Angeles Kings still leading two games to one in their conference final series, but will be without one of their best players, Duncan Keith. Keith as you know, unless you are living somewhere in the construction disaster on I-595 here in South Florida was suspended for tonight’s game for this “careless” retaliatory move to the face of Jeff Carter. Also for your viewing pleasure, here is the Brendan Shanahan’s explanation of the suspension itself. Whether you agree or disagree with Shanahan, I know that when I grew up, the first punch went unnoticed, and the second one was the one that always got “you” in trouble.
While Carter is no model citizen himself, and may have provoked Keith into the careless move, I’m not here to justify either the suspension, or the act itself. Keith did say he was sorry, and that he didn’t intend on hitting Carter in the face, but he did, and now his team will have to pay for it. The bigger dilemna however is how much of an issue is this for the Blackhawks? Keith is the minute muncher for Chicago and is the catalyst on their defence that makes players like Brent Seabrook (his main defensive partner) better. Earlier in the regular season when the Hawks defence wasn’t operating at peak performance, coach Joel Quenneville separated the two partners in hopes that the Hawks would play better, which they did. Then Seabrook went into a late season and early playoff funk of his own, and the two were reunited (and it feels so good), and instantly, his game returned to form. Largely because of his familarity with Keith, and because it’s the pair that makes things difficult for the oppoition, and so much easier for the Hawks.
More after the jump
I don’t know who breathed a bigger sigh of relief after Brent Seabrook scored the winning goal to advance the Chicago Blackhawks past the Detroit Red Wings in a classic game seven battle……the fans of Chicago, or official Stephen Walkom. But after Walkom theoretically should have bought dinner for the Hawks, we find ourselves here as the Western Conference Final begins in Chicago at the United Center this evening.
The Hawks ended a 49 year championship drought by winning the cup in 2010, and the Los Angeles Kings won their first ever cup in 2012 as an eighth seeded team. One of these two powerhouses will have an opportunity to win it again after this series has been completed. The two teams haven’t seen each other in the playoffs since 1974 when I was….nevermind. So there’s no historic rivalry from the past to be concerned with like there was with Detroit, although going forward both teams could be seeing quite a bit of each other.
During the shortened season Chicago won two of three from the Kings beginning with a 5-2 victory at the home opener which put a damper on the opening night celebration at the Staples Center. It was a tight series overall with Chicago outscoring the Kings 12-9, as each team managed 84 shots on goal, with both teams grabbing two power play goals a piece. While the Blackhawks have the home ice advantage after winning the President’s Trophy as the leagues top team, they have their sites set on winning another championship, their second in four years. The Kings are hell bent on repeating. Not to make promises, but this is going to be a real showdown.
Let’s break it down a bit after the page break:
This is how you do a pregame. Thank you HNIC
* The Three Stars for Saturday night. Puck Daddy.
* The Chicago Blackhawks and Jonathan Toews bounce back in game five. Faith and confidence prevail. Committed Indian.
* Preview of the Eastern Conference Final between Pittsburgh and Boston. NHL.com.