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Clicks and Clippings: When Hockey Gods are smiling

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So why am I (and seemingly so many others across the hockey blogosphere) so pleased the Canadiens won last night? Because I'm a hockey fan who, like most of us, hold a special place in our hearts for the underdogs who defy the "experts" and figure out how to win on guts, smarts, and all-out total team effort. So when I read this story today by a Yahoo!Sports writer not named Wyshynski, it all made sense:

Old-school Habs deserve to be America's team - NHL - Eric Adelson, Yahoo! Sports These loveable Habs are turning the NHL world upside down by going back to the game's roots. ...Had the sport changed completely, from team-first to star-centered? Were media-blessed stars like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby really able to take over and win on their own? 

Damien Cox: Dare to dream, Habs fans - ...Jaroslav Halak, Evgeni Nabokov and Antti Niemi, two ninth-round picks and an undrafted Finn, have already secured berths in the Final Four.

Habs heat up in Year of the Smurf - The Globe and Mail Despite hearing their whole careers they were too small, Cammalleri, Gionta, Gomez et al continue to defy tall odds

After the jump, great home video of fans welcoming their Canadien heroes home at the Montreal airport, looking afresh at Michael Leighton, Canes at Worlds, and a few other links from the blogosphere.

YouTube - Montreal Canadiens Arriving At the Airport after game 7 VS Pittsburgh (via Puck Daddy's story on all the ways the Habs fans celebrated - not all of which are admirable). Go to the 5:30 mark to see P. K. Subban get his birthday wishes, as he turns 21 today. And it's also Jaroslav Halak's birthday today. He's 25. 


Flyers come back from 0-3, to take the Bruins to a Game 7

As the headline on their front page read this morning: Better Leighton Never

Did you see these comments from Chris Prongeryesterday, about the goalie situation in Philadelphia? Coming from the "Bad Cop" who plays opposite Captain Mike Richard's "Good Cop" in the Flyers leadership structure, I thought Pronger couldn't have done a better job to take the pressure of Michael Leighton who made his first Stanley Cup playoff start, ever. Who knew he could be more than just a big elbow?

"Well, I've never seen this type of situation where you have a starter and have another starter, then another," Pronger told the media Wednesday morning. "Then you go back to the other starter and go back to your third guy, who's now the second guy, who became your first guy, who was your cousins' brothers' sisters', friend."

Flyers bully history as Leighton forces Game 7 vs. Bruins - Puck Daddy He's had nine different uniforms in nine years, and now he's backstopping the Flyers in an historic quest for the conference finals. 

Rich Hofmann: Flyers' Leighton a realist in midst of storybook tale | Philadelphia Daily News | 05/13/2010 'THE NEXT ONE, that's the big one, said Michael Leighton, a realist and a spoilsport and a storybook character, all rolled into one set of goalie pads."

And some insight on Peter Laviolette's coaching style: While Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette makes adjustments, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien stays the course - ESPN Boston

At the Flyers' SBN Blog, Broad Street Hockey, they're both excited and admittedly surprised. ECSF Game 6: Leighton Stops 30, Flyers Win 2-1, GAME 7 IS NECESSARY Can't say I blame them. (This story follows yesterday's Game 6 preview with the header: "Can they actually do this?" Humility is a wonderful thing.)

Game 7 Softens Blow of Less Star-Laden Final Four " Puck The Media Expecting Friday to be a great night for hockey.

For you trivia buffs, Mike Sundheim tweeted this last night in the 3rd period. He sure knows how to make a Caniac smile (and Michael Leighton was there too):

The Bruins are trying to avoid their second consecutive May 14th Game 7 at home.

And, needless to say, Boston's not worried: Julien remains upbeat - The Boston Globe Bruins Blog -


If you're among the few who have been following the IIHF World Cup tournament in Germany, hopefully you weren't rooting for Team USA which was embarrassed into the relegation yesterday. I'm not even sure it's worth finding out what that means.

However if you're a Canes fan, there are other teams to keep an eye on. 

Team Finland features Canes' MVP Jussi Jokinen on the top line. And Oskar Osala will apparently get to play Friday. There's a Finnish hockey journalist, Juha Hiitela, who tweets in English for his new-found Caniac followers. Here's what he reported this morning (and our resident champion of the values of big bruising wingers, abramsdoug, has kindly put up a fanpost of their conversation here)

Twitter / Juha Hiitelä:
Oskar Osala will play against... whatever it's going to be.. on Friday...They will decide tomorrow in which line Osala will be. ...Osala will play in either 3rd or 4th line. Head coach Jalonen said that they won't break 1st and 2nd line....I think I spoke first time ever with Osala today. Don't remember if I did that before he went to North America. Nice guy.

Team Canada, now led by Captain Ray Whitney, lost to the Swiss yesterday. Alrighty then. Also, Canada's GM Mark Messier reportedly wants to add another goalie. Yesterday there was speculation it might be Carey Price. Today the name Marc-Andre Fleury comes up. Conspicuously absent in the pool of candidates: Team Canada's Olympic gold-medal netminder, Roberto Luongo.

And for Team Germany, Cane's (unsigned) prospect and recently graduated Cornell University blueliner Justin Krueger is getting a lot of minutes in winning efforts. Krueger cheers for son, Justin Krueger  Ralph Krueger was a nervous nelly as he watched the record-breaking opening game at the 2010 World Championship. And after Germany beat Team USA 2-1 in overtime, his wife Glenda cried when the German anthem was played.

Other names in the news

Michael Leighton isn't the only hockey player still alive in the SC playoffs who began the season in Carolina. Sounds like Niclas Wallin is glad to be able to get back in the mix after a lower-body injury sidelined him for several games. For San Jose Sharks, rest wins out over rust in debate - San Jose Mercury News explains how he earned the nickname "The Secret Weapon" to Sharks fans eager to have clutch players in a playoff scenario: 

"It was very frustrating," said Wallin, 35, a member of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup winner. "I was getting phone calls from family and friends, questions from my dad and wife about how I was feeling. It got to the point where I stopped answering phone calls. This is what you play the whole season for, these kinds of game."

Grindcast 7: Puck Daddy, Playoff Predictions Gone Bad and Our First Catchphrase - Sean Gentille - The Grinder - Sporting News The first 30 minutes of this podcast are a fantastic conversation with Greg Wyshynski regarding, among other topics, blogs, twitter and the evolving nature of sports coverage. 

Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner soul-searching after early playoffs exit  Langenbrunner was unhappy about being a healthy scratch for the April 3 game in Raleigh, N.C., and remained silent on the matter for the next four days. He still will not discuss the incident in detail, but two other members of the organization suggested Lemaire disrespected Langenbrunner by trying to give the "C" to defenseman Colin White for that one game. White wouldn’t wear it.

Remembering well what it's like when your team is just plain old, from the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom: 'Next year' no sure thing for Red Wings  In Hockeytown, when the team wins, it feels like destiny, and when it loses, destiny took a breather, sure to be back next year, ready for a kiss, right?

Minor League news

Hundred Degree Hockey: An Interview with AHL Commissioner David Andrews talking about the future of AHL across the country with mentions of the move into Charlotte.

Checkers News Former Checkers Stick Boy Drafted by OHL'S Sarnia Sting.

And the Hershey Bears won the first game of the AHL Eastern Conference Finals last night. Handily, in regulation. Hershey Bears use quick start to beat Manchester Monarchs in Game 1 | Tim Leone,