I've been covering sports around the world since 1974 and my legs are killing me! So here I am to share words and pictures of champions and others who are striving to become one. Please also follow me on twitter (@tedsobelsports).
Not long after the L.A. Kings won their game 5 in St. Louis 3-2 in overtime, the Anaheim Ducks pulled out the same 3-2 score in OT over Detroit thanks to center Nick Bonino who’s first three career playoff goals have come in each of Anaheim’s three victories in this series which his team now leads 3 games to 2.
The Ducks survived a rough 2nd period specifically killing off a big 5 minute Red Wings power play which immediately was followed by a Ryan Getzlaf tying goal before the end of stanza, which set up an exciting 3rd period and overtime that put this series totally up for grabs! Fortunately for Anaheim their only lead of the game came at the right time…sending the faithful home happy and hopeful of a series clincher on Friday night in Hockeytown.
The following are my postgame locker room chats with several key players in this one…
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau:
Ducks center Nick Bonino the hero of the night:
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf:
Ducks RW Kyle Palmieri who scored his 2nd of the series in the 2nd period
Ducks center Andrew Cogliano who provided plenty of energy all game long:
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller who made 29 saves and saved his club’s bacon on a few breakaways and very close-in Detroit opportunities:
Ducks dee-man Francois Beauchemin:
And the exciting thing for me (and I would think any local fan) is that it’s FINALLY a very realistic chance that the Ducks will face the Kings in round 2 if they each advance this weekend…something that’s never EVER happened during the playoffs and something that would mean more to hockey in So Cal than even a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. ONE MORE…so don’t screw this up guys!
The Kings battled back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to steal a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues and get this series even at 2 wins apiece. The irony is that I had heard 3 different soundbytes on the radio this morning from Kings players saying how important it was to get off to a quick start in game 4 on home ice. Well that thought quickly fell apart as St. Louis scored just 1:12 into the game followed by a 2-0 lead 3 minutes and 20 seconds later. So then what?
Well the Kings got one back at 9:44 of the first period on a perfect pass by Mike Richards to his buddy Jeff Carter who buried it for his first goal of the playoffs and before you knew it, Dustin Penner had tied it at 14:30. But the Blues T.J. Oshie scored his 2nd of the night as the lone 2nd period goal and the Kings had to find another way to fight their way back. And it was the unlikely guy (due to his 19 game drought) Anze Kopitar who tied it at 7:14 of the 3rd period on a gorgeous set-up play from captain Dustin Brown helping Kopi score his first goal since March 25th. And maybe the Kings best player in this series Justin Williams got the game winner on a tip-in of a Mike Richards shot at 8:30 and the Kings held on for a huge win that sends them to St. Louis in what is now a best of 3 series starting on Wednesday night.
The following are my postgame chats from the locker room and they were all cautiously stoked about their chances during the rest of this series…
Kings coach Darryl Sutter:
Kings captain Dustin Brown:
Kings center Anze Kopitar finally had a personal reason to smile again:
Kings center Mike Richards who got 2 big helpers and continues to play as steady as they come:
Kings right winger Dustin Penner:
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick:
I’m still sticking with my previous prediction that the winner of game 3 (which was the Kings) will be the club advancing to the 2nd round. And now it’s a brand new series…but which L.A. team will show up for game 5? Hopefully we’ll know in the first few minutes of the game…but don’t bet on it!
Coach Vinny hoping that it’s not his final exit interview in Clipperland (photo courtesy of Ralph Lawler-Oh Me Oh My)
Their regular season team records were great but the Clippers season ended on a sour note when their first round playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies came crashing down in 6 games after a major meltdown with a 2-0 series lead. So now what? Chris Paul is their number one-major-huge-main priority (UNDERSTATEMENT!) and then there’s this other free agent…as in head coach Vinny Del Negro, who’s made strides in his job over the past few years but is that good enough for the Clippers and their new expectations?
These and many other off-season questions need to be answered and it’s up to the front office including V.P. of basketball operations Gary Sacks to find them.
We spoke with Coach Vinny and Mr. Sacks this morning and got some general answers to the season-ending stuff but the future is unclear and you’ll more understand why when you listen to the following…
Vinny Del Negro:
We can only assume that by the end of this week we’ll have a clearer understanding of Coach Vinny’s future here, but we may have to wait until at least July 1 to learn of CP3′s fate? Will he stay here or opt for different pastures, which can’t be any greener (as in cash) at least with his guaranteed extra season of the bigger bucks with the Clips. And one key thing to keep in mind is if Paul does re-sign here…this would likely be the first time that the club would need to pay luxury taxes for some true depth on their roster…and remember the owner’s past history with money meaning if that doesn’t change, the future is very much in doubt…so stay tuned!
The play that may’ve cost Detroit the series? (AP photo)
The Ducks have taken back home ice advantage with a solid 4-0 win in Detroit for a 2-1 series lead. Nick Bonino scored on the power play 18 seconds after Wings forward Justin Abdelkader was ejected for a major charging penatly when he ran over Ducks defenseman Tony Lydman (in the above picture) and that is likely your turning point in the series since that ended a hard-fought scoreless tie at the time. Ryan Getzlaf then scored his second career postseason shorthanded goal on an awful Detroit turnover in their own zone in the 3rd helping goalie Jonas Hiller (who made 23 saves) get the win.
The following are some of the Ducks postgame reactions to what had just happened…
Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau on the 5 minute power play:
Boudreau on Getlaf’s big 2nd goal in the 3rd period:
Ducks center Nick Bonino who finally got his team on the board in the 2nd period on his huge goal:
Winning goalie Jonas Hiller:
Hiller feels his penalty killing unit forgot about the last game:
Finally captain Ryan Getzlaf is happy but not enough until they put the Wings away in this series:
So the team scoring first has won every game in this series so far, but who’ll be the lucky club to do that in game 4 on Monday night???
The following is my post from after Thursday’s game 2 in Anaheim in which some technical issues made it impossible to put this up for you earlier…so thanks for your patience.
Not the celebration that Anaheim fans were hoping to see
The previously ‘Mighty’ Ducks of Anaheim were disappointing to start each period last night including the Overtime when Detroit scored just a minute and 21 seconds in for a 5-4 win to even their series at 1-1.
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller allowed a goal in the first 48 seconds of the game and before you knew it…the Redwings had leads of 3-0 and 4-1. But those battling ‘Quackers’ refused to die on home ice finally tying it on a Bobby Ryan goal with only 2:22 left in regulation. But Anaheim defenseman Sheldon Souray took a questionble slashing penalty in front of his net with 38 seconds left in regulation and Swedish native Gustav Nyquist cashed that in for his game winning goal with just 2 seconds remaining on the OT power play.
Throughout the game, I was thinking the Ducks were much too sloppy in their own zone something I asked one of the team’s statisticians about. He told me the 3rd period was one of the worst of the season at 10 turnovers in their own territory…but as you’ll hear, not every player agreed with that. The bottom line is that the Ducks didn’t play well enough for the entire game to really deserve the win (although they almost gutted one out in spectacular fashion!).
Afterwards I got comments from the following players who didn’t seem too phased at the task of taking care of biz in games 3 and 4 in Hockeytown.
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller:
Ducks rightwing Bobby Ryan:
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf:
Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa:
Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray:
So the Wings went home without one of their quality young guys as rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser broke a thumb in the 3rd period and he is likely done for the playoffs. And to me that is a loss that strengthens Anaheim’s depth over the Wings to a point that gives them a huge edge from here on…now can they can take advantage of that? My guess is–YES, they will.
I told several folk tonight that I felt whoever won game 3 would win this opening round series and if that’s the case, Kings fans are feeling better now after a 1-0 shaky win over the Blues who now lead the series 2 games to one. The lone L.A goal was scored by Slava Voynov in the 2nd period against Brian Elliot who only had to stop 20 other L.A. shots.
The Kings got sloppy way too many times in their own zone tonight something I reminded the guys of afterwards. Some agreed and others didn’t (or wouldn’t admit to it) but all I know is that goalie Jonathan Quick had to be ‘Gumby’ on ice at times with chances coming from all angles. Quicky stopped all 30 shots on goal while his buddy Justin Williams saved the day on maybe the Blues best scoring chance with about 5 minutes left by diving to clear the puck away from an empty goal mouth and he reacted even Quicker than Quick!
I got Justin’s reaction to that and much more afterwards along with some other key players tonight…
Quick gets confetti and congrats after a big shutout win
L.A. right winger Justin Williams:
L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick after his 5th career playoff shutout:
L.A captain Dustin Brown:
Kings center Anze Kopitar who hasn’t scored since March 25 but will take a 1-0 win:
Kings coach Darryl Sutter who was mostly finished when I walked into his postgame newser…I did ask him about goals being at a premium in this series, and he playfully stuck it to me by telling me to do my homework LOL:
And on my way out, it was great timing to run into ex-Ducks center and really good guy Andy McDonald who gave me his perspective on the game and series from the Blues point of view:
The Kings had the best home points percentage in franchise history this year at 19-4-1 and finished the regular season with seven straight wins at Staples and will need some of that extra tasty home-cookin’ on Monday night to get this series even and I’ll be here to get you all the puck talk you can digest. Remember that if the Kings and Ducks advance to the 2nd round and San Jose defeats Vancouver…it will be hockey heaven in So-Cal with L.A. vs. Anaheim. And that would be about damned time!!!!
All I know now is that I must finally get out here still at the arena at 1am…because as Coach Sutter told me, I need to get some homework done so I can learn this game better! Good night!
What’s left of the Clippers season, my empty seat in their media area.
The Clippers are done but at least they hold a new NBA playoff record as the first team to ever win the first 2 games of a series and then lose the next 4 by double digits…obviously something that nobody’s proud of. Just hours after being eliminated in Memphis, the Clips were back home doing their exit interviews knowing this would be the last time they’d be together as this collective team before changes will be made. And it really was a very special locker room that will be hard to duplicate. Of course, they’d take a lesser group and an NBA title.
The big question is, what will their club look like next season? Will Chris Paul re-sign longterm (if not they’ll be taking several gazillion steps backward), will they re-sign head coach Vinny Del Negro, which of their 6 free agents will remain in Clipperland including Matt Barnes who we spoke with today not knowing if he’ll be leaving for a 10th NBA club?
CP3 was still shaking his head in disbelief when I asked him how he ever got ejected in last night’s game 6 when he said and/or gestured nothing to the refs. He looked me right in the eye and basically said…your guess is as good as mine (smartly avoiding any fineable comments).
For whatever reason, Jamaal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan, and Lamar Odom were not made available for us to speak with…but here are the 6 who gaves us their thoughts as they headed into the golfing (or fishing) season.
CP3 chats with us about his future (photo courtesy of Ralph Lawler’s facebook post)
Blake Griffin who we got to laugh a few times about what happened the past few days:
Chauncey Billups who’s not ready to hang up the sneakers just yet:
Matt Barnes who ended his season after a playoff career high of 30 points:
Grant Hill who’s not sure if he’ll play again or serve slurpees (which he likes):
Coach Vinny is set to speak with us on Monday morning as we get to play Monday morning quarterback (or point guard) with him…and then who knows?
The Clippers made huge strides this season winning the Pacific Division for a first time, they set records with overall wins, home and road, and it was a fun ride while it lasted. But the bottom line is that Lob turned into ‘Sob City’ very quickly something that I reminded everyone of these guys that we all can’t get up in the regular season which only sets up the playoffs…guaranteeing you ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
As the horses enter the sloppy track at Churchill Downs my mind has been made up for this wet Kentucky Derby. The rain that was expected happened throughout the day which had me pick Revolutionary as of 2 days ago and I’m sticking with jockey Calvin Borel’s horse, followed by Verrazano, Goldencents and Orb (who’s getting plenty of late action). I see that Revolutionary has been bet down as the 5-1 favorite which shows you just how wide open this race is.
My betting plan would be to play my top 3 to win along with boxing them all in the exacta…and adding some place money on Goldencents and Verrazano
My rooting interest (outside of any betting) is definitely Goldencents with trainer Doug O’Neill a longtime friend and here are his words that he texted to me yesterday. “They’re calling for rain tomorrow. I think if that happens, it could be a real advantage for us. Speed horses, which we’re one, tend to have an edge. Rain or shine, we’re real excited about our chances. THX!” And it’s also easy to want his very likeable jockey Kevin Krigger to to become the first black jockey in over a century to win the ‘run for the roses’.
O’Neill certainly deserves some nice karma after getting screwed out of a great chance at winning the triple crown last year. Or as in my responding text to him wrote “Good racing luck, Doug…and I’ll Have Another winner with Goldencents!”