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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 39

Day-39 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

INKTIME  on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

NO KEITH, NO PROBLEM: The game was there for the taking.  The Blackhawks Norris trophy winning Defenseman, Duncan Keith, was relegated to the Press Box courtesy of a 1-game suspension…the Defending Stanley Cup Champions had a chance to pull even in the WCFS…and the Kings were hosting Game-4 of the series at Staples Center–where they had not lost since the month of March.  So, add it all up and the Series shifts to Chicago dead-even, right?  WRONG!

Despite scoring the first goal of the game, the Kings failed to show that killer instinct that made them a Champion and allowed the Hawks to overcome deficits–TWICE–en route to a 3-2 heart-breaker, to a go along with a not so subtle shove to the brink of elimination.

I thought Kings Coach Darryl Sutter made a very astute observation about how the absence of Duncan Keith really didn’t impact the Blackhawks approach to the game (around the 1:44 mark of this video):

Then again, it also doesn’t hurt when you have as fluid a skater and one that comes with the Hockey IQ of a Niklas Hjalmarsson–who was an impact player in this game from his opening shift.  And Brent Seabrook found a way to elevate his all-star game to another level, and that spelled F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N for the Kings–especially in the 3rd Period when despite trailing by just a goal they could only muster TWO SHOTS!

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GETTING FITTED FOR HORNS:  “This is when heroes are made.”–Those inspirational words were uttered five weeks ago when the Playoffs started by Kings Captain Dustin Brown.

Unfortunately, the Playoffs are also a time when unflattering references to “dogs” and “goats” are made.

In a must win game,  Dustin Brown  and fellow star teammate  Anze Kopitar were nowhere to be found on the score sheet.  In fact, Brown has 1 goal in his last 9 Playoff games–and none in the conference final.  While Anze Kopitar –who led the club in Regular Season scoring–has 1 goal in 13 Post-Season games, but none in this series versus the Blackhawks.

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WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME, LATELY:  Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma is one of the youngest, most respected and most successful coaches in the NHL.  Over the course of 4 seasons with the Pens, the 42-year old Bylsma has amassed a record of (201-92-25).   Those 201 victories ranks second in team history to Eddie Johnston’s (232-224-60) all-time franchise record.

Yet checkout yesterday’s presser with Coach Bylsma, where it took roughly :50 to broach the topic of his future–considering his club is down 3-games-to-none to Boston in the Eastern Conference Final:

Now to Bylsma’s credit, he massaged his answer to focus more on the accountability of the team.

But this response: “I’m not coaching, don’t coach, have never coached for my job,” IMHO is a larger measure of the man.

And if the Pens would be foolish enough to listen to the media (there’s a joke in there somewhere), I am certain the Rangers, Canucks and Stars would be more than happy to scrap their current course of action to accommodate Mr. Bylsma.

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

Pittsburgh     at     Boston     8:00 PM EST
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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 38

Day-38 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

INKTIME  on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO DAD:  As a kid growing up in Chicago, I played baseball at a local park in our neighborhood from the Pee-wee level all the way up to Semi-Pro.  And during that time, my Dad was one of the winning-est Little League coaches in the program’s history.  Each year, kids would come and go–and yet–each year my Dad would field a team in the Playoffs.

So when I went to College on a baseball scholarship, my Dad encouraged me to give back by offering to coach at the Pony League level (12-15 years of age). Now when it came time to draft players, the other coaches had an inherent advantage because they had an “automatic” pick–more often than not their son–and their son could tell them about all of the “best” players available to choose from.

Before my first draft, my Dad pulled me aside and said, “Son, don’t focus on the guys you are hearing are ‘the best players’.  During tryouts (which consisted of fielding, throwing and hitting drills)  try to weed-out those boys you feel have the determination and a love of the game.  Believe me, in the end, those are the one’s that are much easier and fun to coach…and believe me, you will all go farther.”

Right now, the Boston Bruins look like the more the determined bunch.  And their love of the game appears to be off the charts!

I guess the only question is…how much farther can the Boston Bruins go?

BTW, when I finished drafting my Pony League team, many of the Dads/Coaches around the table were openly giggling–rudely saying that I had just drafted the equivalent of the league’s “Bad News Bears.”

We won the Championship…and beat the team that arguably had “the best” players with a Suicide-Squeeze bunt with one out in the Bottom of the 9th!  They never saw it coming.  And the boy who laid down the bunt, hadn’t had a hit all year.

“Thanks”, Dad.

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A VOID TO FILL:  And it’s a sizeable one for the Blackhawks, after losing Duncan Keith to a 1-game suspension–following his high-sticking incident in Game-3 involving Kings Forward Jeff Carter (see BREAKING NEWS from yesterday). Normally, Keith takes a regular shift alongside Brent Seabrook, works the Power Play and kills Penalties–so, no doubt, these are pretty big skates to fill.

This circumstance will probably lead to debut of Sheldon Brookbank.  Brookbank found himself in a tug-of-war with fellow veteran Michal Rozsival for the 6th D-spot–with Rozival winning out in the Post-Season, by starting the first 15 games of the Playoffs for Chicago.   Brookbank played 26 games during the regular season and had one goal and no assists.

The only questions is, who will Coach Joel Quenneville pair Brookbank with?  Stay tuned!

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MORE FROM THE  M*A*S*H UNIT:

Kings Center Mike Richards  took a big hit from the Blackhawks Dave Bolland  in Game-1 of the WCFS and hasn’t suited up since.  His injury has been categorized as “an upper body injury” and believed to be a concussion.

Richards reportedly took a few non-contact turns with all of the other players who were a scratch in Game-3 at the Kings practice facility in El Segundo, California.  No word on his status for tonight’s tilt.

Meanwhile, the  Bruins will be without forward Gregory Campbell for the remainder of the Payoffs due to a broken leg.  Campbell blocked a shot by Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin during last night’s 2OT victory..

But you talk about tough…Campbell stayed on the ice to kill the rest of Pen’s Power Play before gingerly making his way to the B’s locker room.

Like Dad said….”Determination.”

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

Chicago     at     Los Angeles     9:00 PM |EST
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BREAKING NEWS: Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 37

Blackhawks defenseman  Duncan Keith has been suspended for one game for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter during last night’s Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.  The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety has released this video explanation:

Keith is expected to sit out Game-4 tomorrow night at Staples Center.  cHICAGOLEADS THE bEST OF 7 sERIES 2-GAMES-TO-1.

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 37

Day-37 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

INKTIME  on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

QUICK STRIKE:  Nothing like scoring early to set the tone, pull in the fans and give the best goaltender in the game the mindset of, “OK,  this is all we need.”  And that is precisely what Justin Williams afforded Jonathan Quick and the rest of his teammates after the Kings sniper snapped-off a wicked low wrist shot past Chicago Goalie Corey Crawford, en route to 3-1 Game-3 victory in the Western Conference Final to trim the Blackhawks lead in the series to 2-games-to-1.

But there was a disturbing exchange in the 2nd Period between between the Kings Jeff Carter (who I thought was one of the best players on the ice last night) and Hawks star defenseman Duncan Keith (who, BTW, was -2 in this game).  Now granted, Carter isn’t completely innocent.  He initiated the exchange with a tap on Keith’s exposed hand with the HEEL of his stick.  But Keith’s reaction was both undisciplined and dangerous when he swung the TOE of his stick and opened-up a gash just below Carter’s mouth.  Checkout Exhibit “A”:

Duncan Keith claimed: “Yeah, it was accidental.  Obviously, I wanted to give him a tap, but not where I got him. I felt bad. I’m glad to see that he came back. It was just a scuffle. It was an accident.”

While Kings Coach Darryl Sutter saw things differently:  “I didn’t think it was a four-minute penalty.  I thought it was a wrong call. That’s three head injuries now in the playoffs for us. I don’t know how to answer it. It’s retaliation with a stick. It’s not a high stick. Whatever they want to call it, they’ll call it. Don’t even need video.”

The injuries that Sutter is referencing is Kings Center  Jarret Stoll who was out for for 6-games in the second round with an upper body injury (apparent concussion) after taking what was deemed an illegal hit by San Jose’s Raffi Torres.   Then Kings Center Mike Richards has sat out the last 2-games after getting plastered by the Blackhawk’s Dave Bolland in Game-1 of this series.

Which leads us to the Question of the Day…should the Hawks Duncan Keith face supplemental discipline?  Please COMMENT below.  Regardless, have you ever tried having a cut heal where you are growing a beard?…PAINFUL!

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SOME NEW THREADS:  I don’t know about you, but I have been collecting hockey jerseys since my first assigned “beat” (the Blackhawks) in 1981.  And over those 33 years, I have bought, sold or given away over 200 sweaters.

Two teams…the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars unveiled their new uniforms for next season.  So please tell me if you think either one or both is/are worthy of consideration:

While down in Dallas:

BTW, the Stars on March 8, 2014, the Stars will officially retire Mike Modano’s No. 9.  How fitting that the Stars opponent that night will be the Minnesota Wild–representing the State where Modano started his career with the North Stars after the franchise selected him first in the 1988 NHL Draft.

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

Pittsburgh     at     Boston     8:00 PM EST