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 » All things PLAYOFFS! » SCP '09 ROUND 3, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. CAROLINA HURRICANES

SCP '09 ROUND 3, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. CAROLINA HURRICANES

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PENS VS CANES SCP EAST FINAL '09: WHO WINS? HOW MANY GAMES?

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wprager


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Time for predictions, Dave.

I predict that Cole will play but not Ruutu; Cole will not log a lot of minutes. The Canes will come out like a hurricane and try to destroy everything in their path, but by the time the game is over they will be the ones gasping for air. Ward will hold the fort and send the game to OT. I will not make predictions beyond OT.

Cap'n Clutch


Co-Founder
Co-Founder
My prediction is a Canes win in game 2 with Ward being the first star of the game.

SeawaySensFan


Franchise Player
Franchise Player
Cap'n Clutch wrote:My prediction is a Canes win in game 2 with Ward being the first star of the game.

I'm a like zis one.

Cap'n Clutch

Cap'n Clutch
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
SeawaySensFan wrote:
Cap'n Clutch wrote:My prediction is a Canes win in game 2 with Ward being the first star of the game.

I'm a like zis one.

I know you like it but do you agree with it? Your dislike of the Pens and Wings are well known. I'm just curious if you just hope that's what happens or you believe that is the likely outcome of game two.


_________________
"A child with Autism is not ignoring you, they are waiting for you to enter their world."

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SeawaySensFan

SeawaySensFan
Franchise Player
Franchise Player
Cap'n Clutch wrote:
SeawaySensFan wrote:
Cap'n Clutch wrote:My prediction is a Canes win in game 2 with Ward being the first star of the game.

I'm a like zis one.

I know you like it but do you agree with it? Your dislike of the Pens and Wings are well known. I'm just curious if you just hope that's what happens or you believe that is the likely outcome of game two.

My original prediction was the the 'Canes would go up 3-1 and close it in game 5. Ward definitely HAS to be the star every game. I'd say Carolina left a lot of room for improvement and they still didn't looked overly outclassed. Looks good to me.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
Ex-Penguins hero Ron Francis is now a foe on 'Canes bench
By A.J. Perez, USA TODAY/May 21 2009

PITTSBURGH — Even at 46 and in a suit, Ron Francis appears as if he could center a line again, and there were occasions in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at Mellon Arena on Monday when it looked like he might.

"He gets going on that bench pretty good," Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice says. "He's always very quiet and reserved in the way he speaks. But you don't want to miss an offsides (call) down there."

Seventeen years after Francis spurred the Pittsburgh Penguins to their second consecutive NHL championship, Francis is back at Mellon Arena as associate head coach of the Hurricanes, a role he assumed when Maurice was brought in to replace Peter Laviolette in December.

"Certainly this is the closest to being a player," Francis says. "You get to be on the bench, on the ice during practice, break down films and be part of meetings and the locker room on a daily basis. You still can't go out there and participate on the ice. Considering my age, I'm glad I'm not playing."


Those days ended after a short stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2004. In Francis' 23 NHL seasons, he accumulated 549 goals, 1,249 assists and 1,798 points — the fourth-most points of all time — in 1,731 games.

Francis spent 16 seasons with the Hurricanes (formerly Hartford Whalers) franchise but enjoyed his biggest playoff triumphs in Pittsburgh. Acquired in a trade-deadline deal before the 1991 postseason, Francis gave the Penguins a second All-Star center behind Mario Lemieux.

The Penguins went on to win their first title that season.

"He was Mr. Everything in Hartford," longtime Penguins announcer Mike Lange says. "He was the guy they counted on for scoring and everything else. Here, he was the second center. He wasn't counted on being the franchise."

The next season, Francis was pushed up to the No. 1 line when Lemieux broke his hand in the division finals against the New York Rangers on a slash and missed five games. Francis had eight goals and 19 assists in the playoffs that season as the Pens swept the Chicago Blackhawks to win the title, one of many memories that have rushed back in recent days.

"We had a lot of fun with those Cup teams in the early '90s," says Francis, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago. "Sometimes I've had to remind myself why I am here. I'm coaching the opposition, and I have a job to do. Your focus has to be there."

After more than a year away from the game, Francis assumed the role of director of player development in November 2006 and was promoted to assistant general manager a year later. His current job is an interim role, and Francis says he doesn't know what path he'll take next.

"I haven't worried about any of that stuff," Francis says. "I'm so focused on what we need to do. I haven't spent any time on that."

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
Lesser lights shine for Pittsburgh

ALAN ROBINSON, The Associated Press, Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Carolina Hurricanes probably expected Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby to make a difference. What they couldn't have anticipated was being beaten by Miroslav Satan and Philippe Boucher.

Satan and Boucher scored their first goals of the playoffs and goaltender Marc-André Fleury prevented Carolina from getting its offence going, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference final last night.

The second game will be on Thursday night, after the first of as many as three two-day breaks in the drawn-out, best-of-seven series.

Malkin had a goal and an assist on a night Crosby, the leading scorer in the 2009 playoffs with 22 points, was limited to an assist. Satan and Malkin scored less than 90 seconds apart midway through the first period for the Penguins, who are trying to win back-to-back conference championships for the first time since 1991-92.

The Penguins are the first team since the 1996 Detroit Red Wings to return to the conference final the season after losing in the Stanley Cup final.

The Penguins got contributions last night from Satan, who fell into such disfavor in March that he was sent to the minors, and Boucher, a defenceman best known for his hard slap shot.

Boucher scored what proved to be the decisive goal on a power play at 11 minutes 33 seconds of the third period, a shot from the left circle that trickled across the goal line before Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward could stop it.

Boucher's goal was his first in the playoffs since April 12, 2004, and proved significant when Joe Corvo scored on a power play with 1:26 remaining for Carolina, which has dropped Game 1 in each of its three playoff series this postseason.

davetherave

davetherave
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SCP '09 ROUND 3, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. CAROLINA HURRICANES - Page 4 CarCarolina 4, SCP '09 ROUND 3, EAST CONFERENCE FINAL: PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. CAROLINA HURRICANES - Page 4 PitPittsburgh 7

123T
CAR3014
PIT2237
Final

7:30 PM ET, May 21, 2009, Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

'Geno' not just a nickname

May 21, 2009/CBC SPORTS--There are times when Pittsburgh centre Evgeni Malkin almost gets overlooked.

That’s no small thing, considering that he won the NHL scoring championship in 2008-09 and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy. It also is understandable, given that he shares a locker room with a guy like Sidney Crosby.

But there are other occasions – and Pittsburgh’s 7-4 victory against Carolina in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night at Mellon Arena was one of them – when Malkin makes it flat-out impossible to ignore him.

Ringing up his first career playoff hat trick would have been enough, but Malkin made it even more memorable with a sensational individual effort on his third goal.

The Penguins were ahead, 5-4, midway through the third period when Malkin lined up for a face off in the left circle in Carolina’s end. Rather than try to draw the puck to the point, he pushed it forward, then collected it behind the Hurricanes’ goal line.

Malkin carried it around the net and, when he got to the inner edge of the right circle, threw a backhander that sailed past Carolina goalie Cam Ward to give the Penguins their first multiple-goal lead of the night.

Fittingly, the play on which Malkin scored is a set play the Penguins named after him.

“It’s called ‘The Geno’ for a reason,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “There’s not many players in the world who can make a play like that, and two of them are on our team.”

And the other star of the team was awfully impressed by what he saw.

“His third goal was amazing, to get that up, top-shelf,” Crosby said. “It’s something we work one, plays coming out of the corner like that. But it’s rare - No. 1 that you’re able to do it and give yourself space to do it - and put it up top-shelf like that. He executed perfectly.”

Malkin did that a lot during Game 2, when he launched a game-high eight shots at Ward.

“He’s a good goalie, but I tried to shoot every shift and tried to score,” Malkin said. “Tonight, I was a little bit lucky.”

Or perhaps lucky that Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t on an opposing team, because Fleury offered a rather alarming theory for how to limit the damage Malkin does.

“I’d throw my stick like a tomahawk,” he said. “Injure him really good.”

Fleury was kidding, of course. Many more performances like the one Malkin turned in during Game 2, however, and some opponent just might consider incorporating it into a game plan.

Kunitz connects
Chris Kunitz, who has spent the entire postseason on Sidney Crosby’s left wing, failed to score a goal in Pittsburgh’s first 14 playoff games, but broke out of his slump by beating Ward from inside the right circle with just 7.3 seconds left in the middle period of Game 2.

“It definitely feels good,” Kunitz said. “But our team is a close group in the locker room. It’s not about the goal. It’s more about the win. Personally, it’s all good to get it done, but we’ve been having a lot of guys score goals who maybe aren’t expected to.”

'Canes need home cooking
Losing the first two games obviously has put Carolina in a precarious spot, but the Hurricanes play well at home and realize they can distill this series to a best-of-three by capturing Games 3 and 4 at the RBC Center.

“[The Penguins] did what they needed to do,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “They won two games on home ice. We have to do the same thing.”

That, winger Patrick Eaves said, is perfectly reasonable to expect if the Hurricanes correct a few mistakes that surfaced in Game 2.

“We've just got to get back to playing our game,” he said. “Simple, quick and fast. And I think we'll be all right. Just like I said, we'll be good when we get back home.”

Goalies have their struggles
Ward had been 5-0 in all-time Game 2 starts before Thursday night, but even though his record no longer is perfect, his reputation among the Penguins hasn’t suffered much.

“He’s a solid, very good NHL goalie who’s won before,” right winger Bill Guerin said. “You always have to be ready for his best.”

Fleury didn’t come through with that during the early part of Game 2 – the Hurricanes scored three times in the first 12:10 of play – but he kept his composure and allowed only one more during the final 47-plus minutes.

“I was a little bit mad to give up so many goals early in the game,” Fleury said. “But it was important to stay confident, positive.”

Family conflict
Carolina center Eric Staal said he spoke with his father in Thunder Bay, Ontario Wednesday night for the first time during this series, and suggested the parents aren't always enjoying the fact that he and younger brother Jordan of the Penguins are doing battle.

Especially when the brothers are matched directly against one another as often as they have been through the early part of this series.

“I think it’s difficult on them, watching this,” Eric Staal said. “I think it’s just kind of awkward.”

Visitors resilient
The Penguins failed to protect leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3 in Game 2 before locking up their victory by scoring the final three goals of the game.

Afterward, several players acknowledged that the Hurricanes’ ability to counter Pittsburgh goals – Carolina did it in 76 seconds after the Penguins’ first, and 25 seconds after their second – was exasperating.

“You get concerned, you get maybe a little frustrated when you take the lead and they keep coming back, coming back,” forward Max Talbot said.

Guerin agreed that “we can be better in that situation, after a goal,” but pointed out that the Hurricanes had something to do with that, too.

“They keep coming and coming,” he said. “You have to give them credit.”

Cole contributes
Carolina winger Erik Cole, who had been questionable for Game 2 after getting an unspecified injury on a hit by Pittsburgh Matt Cooke during Game 1, played and ended up logging 14 minutes, 35 seconds of ice time.

The sequence on which Cole was injured was reviewed by the league office, which determined that a suspension was not in order. It is not known if Cooke was fined.

He did, however, say that the nature of his contact with Cole has not been portrayed accurately.

“We didn’t even hit knee-on-knee,” Cooke said. “We hit shin-on-shin.”

Hurricanes winger Tuomo Ruutu, who got a leg injury during Game 1, did not dress for Game 2, but some Hurricanes officials spoke optimistically about him having a chance to return for Game 3 Saturday.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
Downgrade this one to a tropical storm.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
So much for my predictions, by the way. I got the personnel right (Ruutu out, Cole in), and Cole played under 15 minutes (although I'd be hard pressed to say what his usual average TOI has been). And it did look like the Hurricanes ran out of gas toward the end. But Ward didn't hold the fort and it didn't got to OT.

But that's why they call them predictions.

shabbs

shabbs
Hall of Famer
Hall of Famer
The 'Canes went as Ward went... down the tubes...

Nasty Nas

Nasty Nas
Rookie
Rookie
So happy Malkin torched the Canes last night. I knew as soon as Larose tried to irritate Malkin he was gonna make them pay. Can't stand that little s hit. As soon as Malkin was out of the box he was flying around hitting and making things happen. Hope baby Larose decides to make Geno angry again.

PTFlea

PTFlea
Co-Founder
Co-Founder
I credit the Canes for matching the Pens step for step until the back breaking goals in the 3rd. At this point I expect more from Ward, but holy moly, what a friggin goal by Malkin in the 3rd.

SensFan71


All-Star
All-Star
game 3 is do or die for the Canes, don't think they are done yet, too much never say die in the Canes for that yet. home ice will prove to be nicer to them.

SeawaySensFan

SeawaySensFan
Franchise Player
Franchise Player
I kinda knew it was over on the Talbot goal. Just a bad feeling.

wprager

wprager
Administrator
Administrator
SensFan71 wrote:game 3 is do or die for the Canes, don't think they are done yet, too much never say die in the Canes for that yet. home ice will prove to be nicer to them.

No, it's not over yet, for sure, but now that the finals are just two more wins away I expect Sid to match Malkin's domination in one of the next two games. I expect a split in Carolina and then the Canes have to win three in a row. That's not going to happen with a chance at the Cup on the line.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
The view from Raleigh today:

Canes need to redefine series

Raleigh News & Observer, Chip Alexander, May 22 2009

PITTSBURGHThere still a lot of hockey to be played in the Eastern Conference finals, but there already have been two defining moments.

In Game 1, the Canes' Eric Staal missed an open net in the final 30 seconds that would have tied the score and possibly forced overtime. Staal rarely misses an opportunity like that but he did that time. The Penguins' won 3-2.

In Game 2, the Pens led 5-4, in another tight game at Mellon Arena, when there was a faceoff in the Carolina zone. Moments later, it was 6-4 after Evgeni Malkin's third goal of the game.

"It was a faceoff play and it's called 'The Geno' for a reason," Pens coach Dan Bylsma said. "He pushed through and went and got the puck himself and after that it's just all him."

Malkin controlled the puck behind the Carolina net, skated to the right circle, spun and got off a backhander that sailed by Cam Ward's head to make it 6-4.

"There are not many players in the world can make a play like that and two of them are on our team," Bylsma said.

The other being Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and assist Thursday as the Pens took a 2-0 series lead with the 7-4 victory.

Malkin and Crosby, Crosby and Malkin. The Hurricanes went into the series knowing they had to do all they could do slow down those two dynamic scorers.

Through two games, Malkin and Crosby have combined for five goals and four assists.

How to contain them?

"Well, you're not going to be able to do it one on one," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "We struggled a little bit with some of that in our own end. We left them alone at times, one on one with a player."

As defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said, Malkin is a great player and will get his chances, but the Canes have to be much tighter defensively. Pittsburgh also had 42 shots in the game.

The Hurricanes were saying all the right things after Game 2, with the series now going back to Raleigh for two games.

Defenseman Tim Gleason: "We're down 2-0. We're going back to our building. It's not over with."

Maurice: "They won two games on home ice. We have to do the same thing. That's our challenge."

And a challenge it will be.

davetherave

davetherave
All-Star
All-Star
The view from Pittsburgh today:

Overrated Hurricanes are overmatched

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/Bob Smizik| Friday, May 22, 2009

The word was out from multiple expert sources before this Eastern Conference final that the Carolina Hurricanes would be the best team the Penguins had faced in the playoffs. They were better than Philadelphia, better than Washington.

Well, if that be so, how good are these Penguins?

How about Stanley Cup champion good.

That’s a thought this morning after a dazzling Penguins' 7-4 victory at Mellon Arena last night over these supposedly excellent Hurricanes.

The Penguins are making a myth out of the goaltending superiority of Carolina’s Cam Ward, who came into this series with an alleged edge over Marc-Andre Fleury. And they’re making a playoff legend out of center Evgeni Malkin, who had a hat trick last night and simply dominated play for most of the time he was on the ice.

Malkin would not be denied. He played like a man possessed after getting involved with Carolina’s Chad Larose midway through the second period. His first goal gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead in the first period; his second a 5-4 lead in the third; his third a 6-4 lead, which was vital since the Hurricanes had been coming back all night.

But they would not come back from this goal and you have to wonder if they can come back at all from this manhandling. That’s particularly so because in five consecutive series the Hurricanes had lost Game 1 and came back to win Game 2.

Now that they’ve lost Game 2, they’ve got to be thinking maybe this isn’t their year.

They find themselves being in the near-impossible position of having to win, in a best-case scenario, four out of five games against the Penguins to win this series.

It’s hard to believe that’s going to happen.

Sure, the Hurricanes might get some life by returning to their home ice for two games beginning Saturday. But that does not remove their daunting challenge of having to win four of five.

Just as noteworthy as the downsizing of Ward has been the disappearance of Eric Staal, the Hurricanes top offensive player, who has yet to score a goal in this series. On a team that lacks the deep firepower of the Penguins, the Hurricanes can hardly afford a vanishing act by their best player.

Speaking of deep firepower, the Penguins got seven points from their first line, five from their second and six from their third in a remarkable display of scoring balance.

Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy (empty net) also scored for the Penguins but this was Malkin’s night.

He swooped in to grab rebounds and throw them past Ward for his first two goals.
The third was magnificent. He won the faceoff, gained the puck, went behind the net and going away from the goal flicked a backhander over Ward’s shoulder on the short side.

Malkin has now taken over the scoring lead in the playoffs, one point ahead of Crosby.

With their big guns -- Ward and Staal -- silenced, the Hurricanes have no answers for the multitude of problems the Penguins throw at them.

Maybe this series will become more difficult. But you wouldn’t want to bet one that. The next dose of difficulty, if any, for the Penguins will come when the opposition is the Detroit Red Wings.

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