Here are your Evening Puck Headlines and Previews: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Just a reminder that the new contest, "The No-Foil Stanley Cup Replica Competition," is in full swing. Because a few have asked: Yes, you can use images of previously constructed No-Foil Cups. Already in today: a beer keg Stanley Cup, a rather striking welding job and a wedding cake.
Keys for the Blackhawks: What a bizarre emotional spot this team must be in right now. Do they follow the lead of their coach, seething at the "worst penalty of all-time ever" and referees that "ruined" a perfectly good Game 4? Do they react with anger or apathy to everyone not related by blood or named Don Brennan having written them off? Can they recover from the notion that the savvy veterans of the Red Wings have dominated them without Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper -- the hockey equivalent of both hands tied behind their backs and a gag in their mouth?
No Marty Havlat or Nikolai Khabibulin; the series is in the tender mitts of Cristobal Huet. Patrick Kane hasn't scored a goal in seven of his last eight playoff games; however, the one game with a goal was his hat-trick in Game 6 against the Vancouver Canucks. He's had a miserable series thus far; but stranger things have happened than a Kane resurgence tonight.
Speaking of stranger things, how about a Blackhawks rally for the conference title, Second City Hockey? "Get their heads on right - they can win this game. Steal one on the road, take one back at home and anything can happen in a Game 7. Crazier things have happened... Jim Belushi keeps getting work, right?"
Keys for the Red Wings: Screen the ever-loving crap out of Huet, and hope that the rust that he's shown in this series still lingers. By no means does his playing give Chicago a better chance to win than with Khabibulin; but he's still a capable goalie who can backstop an impressive effort now and again. Keep the pressure on him, and early.
Chicago's going to be pressing like hell in Game 5, so continuing to turn mistakes into goals the other way would be an essential key for the Wings tonight.
Most of all, use what happened last night in Carolina as motivation. The Pittsburgh Penguins closed out their foes when they had the chance, and the Red Wings should do the same against a Blackhawks team that could go from petrified to pesky in the span of a single victory.
Then again, if the Wings lose tonight, their injured veterans will have about a month before the start of the Stanley Cup finals, hyperbolically speaking ...
Meanwhile, in the rest of creation ...
• Bob Probert now says he was havin' a laugh when he told Jonathan Toews to go kick the Red Wings' asses. While wearing a Blackhawks jersey. Standing in the middle of the United Center. Tee-hee. [Snapshots]
• Big day for Jim Balsillie in U.S. bankruptcy court today, as Judge Redfield T. Baum moved up the date of the relocation hearing from June 22 to June 9. If the team is to be relocated, the auction would be on June 22. This is the kind of news that makes the NHL want to wrap itself in the comfort of a steroid scandal instead. [Globe & Mail]
• Jimmy Balls says that a team in Hamilton would not be named "Hamilton," but more likely "Ontario or Southern Ontario." Southern Ontario Sting. S.O.S. Make it so. [Simmons]
• Mirtle reports that tickets to the NHL Awards aren't exactly selling like Siegfried and Roy in Vegas. In fairness, it's the first year they're trying it. And no matter what the sales are now, it shouldn't be the last either; unless the Awards are destined to remain Canada's little secret, devoid of any interest stateside. Where, as of this afternoon, 24 franchises and the finalists for the majority of the awards still reside. [From the Rink]
• New York Islanders icon John Tonelli has been charged with driving drunk after crashing his car and fleeing the scene in Harrison, NY. The most embarrassing moment of alleged intoxication for the Islanders since the Luongo trade. [Newsday]
Finally, thanks to Puck Buddies Keith M. and Rick W. for sending over the following image, soon to be seen in every cubicle in Michigan: