Kings poised to cap off great postseason run


Kings poised to cap off great postseason run

It doesnt look like theres any stopping the Los Angeles Kings at this point.

Jonathan Quick is throwing up zeroes between the pipes en route to becoming the best US-born goaltender in the world (hope Tim Thomas and his 2014 Olympics hopes are paying attention), and it appears a foregone conclusion that the Conn Smythe Trophy is his.

Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and the trouble twins from the Flyers (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards) are becoming household names with giant postseason performances, and the Kings are absolutely rolling en route to the Cup. The Kings would match the 1998 Oilers with a 16-2 run through the playoffs if they can wrap things up in Los Angeles.

That, my friends, is domination.

"You never know. It's just the way it goes. You ride your confidence as far as you can take it. You ride your play, you ride your goaltender and you ride your guys that are going. We got everybody going, said Kings grinding forward Jarret Stoll. That's probably the best thing about our team, we're a team.

If you are going to beat us, you have to come through a lot of us to beat us. That's the way we feel. That's the way we're playing. Weve got one more to go.

Whether it gets wrapped up tonight at the Staples Center or subsequently in later games if the Devils can show some semblance of life, offense or deep-seeded emotion, Los Angeles has pushed through to another level in the NHL stratosphere.

The LA hockey club would finally bring a Stanley Cup to a franchise thats been waiting 45 years for this moment.

That being said the Kings need to finish things off before the spoils of victory are theirs; nobody hoists the Cup after slapping another hockey team around for three games.

The Kings need to become closers in a city where Hollywood deals are closed every day, but theyre not viewing win No. 4 as any different from the rest of the tight-knit series.

It doesn't count any more than the rest of them did. It's one game, so we're just going to play our game, work as hard as we can, try to be as prepared as possible and see what happens, said Quick. Its the same routine, as always. We're going to go about our
Business the same way, prepare the same way and try to be more prepared than they are.

The only shame of it all is that it was the Devils standing in the end against a Kings club thats clearly much better than the No. 8 that eked their way into the playoffs. LAs offensive depth changed for the better when Carter came aboard the Kings in February, and theyve gone 27-7-3 since swapping Jack Johnson for the Flyers scorer outcast from Philadelphia.

Granted, New Jersey is trying to win it all with a superstar in Ilya Kovalchuk thats clearly hurting and ineffective, but the Kings have two legitimate offensive forward lines, the best defenseman on either of the two teams and a dominant goaltender in his prime.

Thats a difficult combination to beat, and it looks like it wont be in the Cup Finals whether the Kings close it out tonight or in the remaining three chances theyll get over the next two weeks.

Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?


Haggerty: So what exactly has happened to the Bruins-Habs rivalry?

BRIGHTON, MASS -- It didn’t take last season’s embarrassing Winter Classic result to figure out something has been missing from the storied, legendary Bruins-Canadiens rivalry over the last few years.

The last traces of the latest, great incarnation of the B’s-Habs rivalry were clearly still there a couple of seasons ago when the two hockey clubs met in the second round of the playoffs. After falling short the last few times the teams met in the postseason, Boston was summarily dismissed by Montreal in Game 7 on their own home ice during that series. The following season the B’s simply had so many of their own players struggling to put out a consistent effort, so the games against the Habs didn’t really register highly on the importance scale, and last season both Boston and Montreal suffered through subpar seasons that saw them each fall short of the playoffs.

Since the second round loss to the Habs in the 2013-14 playoffs, the Bruins are 2-7 while being outscored by a 31-18 margin in nine regular season meetings over the last two seasons in an incredibly one-sided chapter in the two teams’ shared history. The real lack of competitiveness has been a noticeable lack of deep emotion or ill will on the ice between the two hockey clubs, and that is very different from the recent past when signature players like Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban and Shawn Thornton were card-carrying members of healthy hate that regularly spilled out on the ice between the two rival NHL organizations.

Instead it will probably be new blood that breathes glorious, hard-edged life into the history between the two Original Six teams, and new personalities like David Backes, Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw are likely to do just that. Certainly the Canadiens wanted to be much more difficult to play against in recruiting players like Shaw and Weber, and, their presence along with the offensively explosive Alex Radulov, could make it a tough matchup for the Black and Gold.

Either way, the Bruins are curious to see what the matchup looks like this season with the electric P.K. Subban removed from the mix as one of the classic Habs villain-type characters from a Boston perspective.

“It’s always fun to play Montreal at home, or in Montreal. This will be our second time counting the preseason, and our first time at the Garden. It’s going to be pretty cool,” said David Krejci. “When you say any NHL team there are a few names that pop out for that team, and [P.K. Subban] was definitely one of them [for Montreal]. But P.K. is gone, and now it’s Shea Weber. So it’s going to be a little different, but he’s a hell of a player as well so it isn’t going to be any easier.

“It’s a big game. It’s a division game. We don’t want to take any game lightly within the 82 games because you don’t know what can happen at the end. When those games against [Montreal] are done you always feel like you’ve played two games, and not just one. It’s high intensity, and it’s obviously a rivalry that you get up for.”

As Bruins head coach Claude Julien would say it, things are a bit too civilized between the two enemy teams when thinking back to the days of Georges Laraque chasing Milan Lucic around the ice challenging him a fight on the Bell Centre ice, or the awful epoch in B’s-Habs history when Zdeno Chara clobbered Max Pacioretty with a dangerous, injury-inducing hit into the stanchion area.

Nobody is looking for players to get hurt on borderline plays when the two teams suit up on Saturday night, but something to introduce a new chapter into the Boston-Montreal rivalry would be a good thing for both teams, a good thing for the fans and a potentially great thing for an NHL that prides itself on good, old-fashioned rivalries.

“We need to make sure that we’re ready to play [on Saturday]. I like the way that we’ve played so far, and except for Toronto we’ve managed to compete with all of the teams that we’ve played against,” said Julien. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way, but I’m going to use the word that [the rivalry] has been more civilized for the last few years. There hasn’t been as much of the sideshow as there has been [in the past].

“I think there’s still a lot of hatred between the two organizations when they meet, but I think the way the game is trending, and how costly that penalties can be in a game, both teams are a little cautious in that way. I still think there is great intensity and both teams get up for the games, so hopefully that happens tomorrow, and the fans get to see a good game.”

One thing that should ensure a good, familiar showdown with plenty of hard-hitting and honest-to-goodness rivalry-like behavior: both the Canadiens and Bruins are off to strong starts at the top of the Atlantic Division in the first couple of weeks this season, and there are some new faces that are undoubtedly going to want to announce their presence for these Bruins-Habs tilts with authority.

Let’s hope this happens because last season’s Bruins-Habs games needed a pair of jumper cables and 1.21 jigowatts of electricity to shock them back into their elevated level of intensity, and that’s when hockey is served best after all. 

Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment


Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while anxiously awaiting a Cleveland/Chicago Cubs World Series showdown with all of the Red Sox subplots that could be involved.

*A peewee hockey coach in Quebec has been given a season-long suspension for punishing his players with hundreds of push-ups.

*The NHL game has changed radically over the last 11 years as Henrik Lundqvist has been a fixture for the New York Rangers.

*A lot has changed since Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in 1990 and this article is worth it for the Jagr mullet picture alone.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says that a healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for the Canucks.

*Carey Price is back in net for the Montreal Canadiens, and that makes the Habs a new team as they prepare for the Bruins on Saturday.

*This is what it looks like when you’ve completely given up on just about everything else except for being a hockey fan. So very gross.

*For something completely different: The Doctor Strange cast is being forced into answering some tough questions at the premiere of what is essentially a comic book movie.