Kukla's Korner

Are The Anaheim Ducks And Pittsburgh Penguins Headed To The Playoffs?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Okay now that the Super Bowl (that was super?) is over, we can turn our full attention to the stretch run and the trade deadline, which is only three weeks away. I'm looking forward to Monday's Anaheim Ducks-Pittsburgh Penguins tilt in Pittsburgh, a homecoming for the Ducks' sterling still-rookie netminder.

These teams made an interesting swap recently, with the under-performing David Perron heading to Anaheim and Carl Hagelin becoming a Penguin after simply not fitting in with Bruce Boudreau's Ducks. Both have played well since, especially Perron, who has three goals and five assists in seven games as a Duck. Hagelin, playing often with Evgeni Malkin (who missed games on the weekend with injury) and Phil Kessel, has five assists in eight games. Bottom line, though, is both teams are thriving now after struggling through miserable first halves.

The Ducks have won six in a row and are a point behind San Jose for second place in the Pacific. The Pens, meanwhile, hold down the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and are on a 7-2-2 run, putting them just a point behind an up and down New York Islanders team who sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

So, are both these teams locks to make the playoffs now? Could both the Pens and Ducks significant playoff runs? What say you?

read on for more views on this topic fromt the ESPN hockey guys...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Big Week For The Wings

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

They need to start racking up points at home and they have a good opportunity this week with four games.

Here are five things to watch this week:

1. Looking to cool off Panthers

The Red Wings face Atlantic Division-leading Florida for the second time in five days on Monday (7:30, Fox Sports Detroit Plus). The Panthers have won five of six from Detroit, including both meetings this season. They have gone 23-6-2 following an 8-9-4 start....

Florida's power play has converted in five consecutive games (8 for 22).

The Panthers, behind goaltender Roberto Luongo, lead the league in goals-against average (2.21).

2. Athanasiou here to stay?

Will Andreas Athanasiou remain in the lineup permanently? That depends on his performance.

Saturday was a good start. Called up for the second time this season, Athanasiou centered a line with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, provided an assist and posted a plus-2 rating while logging a team-low 9:48.

His speed and offensive upside make him an upgrade over Joakim Andersson. Athanasiou can also kill penalties.

When Niklas Kronwall comes off long-term injured reserve in another week or 10 days, the club must send either Andersson or Athanasiou back to Grand Rapids.

read on

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Believing In The Washington Capitals

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog,

“I don’t see another team in the Eastern Conference — right now, based on how they’ve played — that can beat them in a seven-game series,” said the NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes.

Or ask some of the league’s best players and coaches what they think about the Capitals.

“One mistake and it’s in the back of our net, and then boom, they just take off,” said Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly.

“They’re a scary team, when you can almost kind of score at will like that,” said Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop.

“The Caps are outstanding,” added Florida Coach Gerard Gallant. “I mean, they’re obviously a favorite to win the Cup right now.”

These are strange times for a franchise that’s spent the past decade, if not most of its existence, fighting for national recognition and praise. It’s never been hard to find skeptics eager to dismiss Washington’s style of play, its coaching acumen, its Russian captain or its playoff pedigree. Often it felt like the later winter months offered a direct challenge to the Caps from the league: We do not believe in you, the league said. See if you can prove us wrong.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Just When You Thought The Edmonton Oilers May Have Turned The Corner

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Journal,

They’ve been outscored 13-2 in their last two games after an equally miserable 5-1 stink bomb Saturday in Montreal, and any illusion they had of playing a meaningful game between now and the end of the season on April 9 is over....

The two-game run over Columbus and Ottawa that generated so much positive energy in Edmonton? It can safely be dismissed now as a fluke. And a bandwagon that had accelerated from zero to 60 in a matter of two games is now abandoned on the street corner, up on blocks, leaking oil and not even worth stealing and stripping down for parts.

“We have to be better than that, that’s all,” said Connor McDavid, who has a better understanding today of why the Oilers win so many lotteries. “That’s not how you want to respond after two good wins like that, with two big losses.

“We came in feeling pretty good about ourselves and I think we maybe let the high go a little too high, got a little complacent, a little cocky maybe. And that’s what you get for doing that. Two not very good games. We have to respond.”

They responded to looking distracted in Montreal by looking entirely disinterested in New York. In towns where focus is key, the Oilers had little.

“In my opinion, we weren’t focused, we weren’t ready,” said veteran Matt Hendricks. “The structure in our game went out the window. That’s about it, not a lot of excuses.”

read on

Extended game highlights are below...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Video- Recap Of The NHL Games Played Yesterday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Highlights from the three NHL games played on Sunday.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers set-up, take 3

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings will attempt to defeat the Florida Panthers for the first time in 3 tries this evening (7:30 PM EST start on FSD Plus/FS Florida/97.1 FM), and the Wings will do so with their memories fresh from last Thursday's 6-3 Panthers romp.

Put simply, this is a game that the Red Wings have to win if they are to get back into the thick of the Atlantic Division standings, never mind close their 8-point deficit on the Atlantic-leading Panthers. With today's game and a March 19th meeting left in the teams' season series, Detroit can considerably close the gulf between themselves and the Panthers, or Detroit can all but ensure that it will be playing for 2nd or 3rd in the division.

The Wings enter tonight's game having won at home for the first time in 7 tries on Saturday against the Islanders; Florida, which has won 5 straight games against the Wings and 5 straight games at the Joe, is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Much of the Panthers' story is likely to focus upon Little Caesars graduate and 22-year-old center Vincent Trocheck, who's become a valuable contributor, as the Sun-Sentinel's Alain Poupart notes:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

How Will They Make The Floor 2

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

A few days ago I wrote a post called How will they make the floor? where I asked how the Winnipeg Jets would make the salary floor with sensible hockey moves assuming Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd leave as unrestricted free agents.  There is another team in a similar situation.  The Carolina Hurricanes has a $63.5 million salary cap hit according to General Fanager.  They have Eric Staal and Cam Ward who are unrestricted free agents and making over $14 million between them.  These players will take a reduced salary on their next contracts and will likely do so in another city.  To make the potential departures list longer, Kris Versteeg ande John-Michael Liles are also UFAs with over $6 million tied up in salary between them.  Those four players take up nearly 1/3 of the total Carolina salary.  It isn't obvious how Carolina can fulfill salary floor requirements and replace these players with other NHLers who will make hockey sense.

Carolina has been a team that has struggled to make playoffs recently.  Perhaps it is possible this yeara although they are currently three points out of the playoffs.  Likely making the salary floor requires overpaying free agents who don't do much to improve the team.  Carolina remains a non-playoff team after a few moves with little hockey value.  What does one do to improve in the off-season given their situation?

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Ansar Khan Answers Questions From Detroit Fans

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

Answer Khan of Mlive answers questions from the fans.

The first question was regarding Jimmy Howard.

Mrazek is their No. 1 goalie – now and into the future. Even if Howard regains his mojo they're not going back to the rotation they used much of the first half of the season.

Mrazek, a restricted free agent, will get a sizable raise on his next contract. They can't have a back-up with a $5.3 million cap hit next season, and I'm sure Howard doesn't want to be a back-up. So the only option is to trade him after the season.

That's easier said than done when you have three years and nearly $16 million remaining and you've struggled like Howard has.

In order to move him, the Red Wings could retain a portion of his contract. But instead of paying somebody to take him perhaps a more likely scenario would be the Red Wings taking back somebody else's unwanted contract, though not with that large a cap hit.

And even then, the list of teams seeking a highly paid starting goalie who has been off his game can't be long. Calgary, Buffalo and Winnipeg might be on the short list of clubs looking for a No. 1.

more Q & A...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Video- Drew Stafford Will Be Talking To DoPS Tomorrow

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: drew+stafford

No Tanking In Columbus

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Aaron Portzline of Puck Rakers,

Given the Blue Jackets’ propensity to end “lost” seasons with strong finishes, this year’s marketing gimmick/slogan – “March With Us” – bears an unfortunate double entendre.

It was intended to be a call to fans, with a nod to the club’s Civil War nickname. But nobody does March quite like the Blue Jackets, and previous spring flings have served only to create false optimism and spoil draft picks.
(Maybe “October With Us” could be printed on t-shirts next fall?)

As this cynicism swirls around a club that has won one home playoff game in 15 seasons, the feeling in the Blue Jackets’ dressing room remains unchanged. You might say it remains professional.

The players and coaches won’t hear of tanking. In some cases, it angers them. With wins in four of their last five games – and points in five of their last six – the Blue Jackets believe their primed for a strong finish.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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