Kukla's Korner

Battle For Playoff Position

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,

Right about the middle of next month, the Blackhawks are sure to make their first postseason appearance since 2002.

With the season dwindling to its final games, they’re already getting a taste of what that experience will be like. That learning process should continue when the Hawks play their biggest game of the season when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at the United Center.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Blues Just Won’t Go Away

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

“Before the season,” Commodore said, “if you would have looked at their roster and said, ‘OK, this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy are going to be done for the year ... how do you think they’re going to do?’ With seven games left, I don’t think anybody would have guessed they’d be one point out of the playoff race.

“They just never went away. It’s been very impressive.”

“I think everybody did count them out,” Nash said. “I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I played for Andy Murray at the World Championships (with Team Canada) and know how good of a coach he is. Plus, they’ve got great players, so it was surprising to see where they were at the bottom. But they’ve been great lately, and they’ve got a shot at it.”

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Koharski On His Career

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Elliott Friedman did another great interview with retiring referee Don Koharski last night in the ‘Inside Hockey’ segment of the HNIC pre-game show.

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: don+koharski

A Bad Night For Pogge

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

Last night might have been one of those nasty, scarring experiences that a goalie never gets over and Pogge’s bewilderment seemed to hint at that after surrendering six goals on 20 shots to the Boston Bruins and being yanked after fewer than 33 minutes.

“Tonight sucked,” he said. “I’ve just got to go back to work tomorrow, I guess.”

Pogge’s brief outing included an unusual moment when, after he’d given up the fifth Boston goal, head coach Ron Wilson essentially challenged the third-year pro with some sharp words at the bench.

“Ah, you know, it was a slap on the ass, you know, try to get back into it,” said Pogge, choosing his words carefully. “Unfortunately, the first shot after that was a breakaway.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: justin+pogge

Hockey Talk On A Sunday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

• So what’s less fun? Playing for a Ken Hitchcock-coached team or playing against one?

• No matter how you view the top-three MVP candidates in the NHL—from Ovechkin to Evgeny Malkin to Pavel Datsyuk to Zdeno Chara to Zach Parise, you can’t muster a top-three vote for Sidney Crosby. And who would have predicted that?

• The Vancouver Canucks are 19-10-4 with Mats Sundin in the lineup but that said, Sundin’s overall impact has been debatable: He has just 23 points in 33 games (a 57-point pace), only four even-strength goals and is a minus-player. He’s also 10th on the team in ice time played per game. If you ask Vancouver people, the development of Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler has been far more instrumental in the Canucks surge than the presence of Sundin.

more hockey notes including the need for more goal scorers…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Chara Is Your Norris Trophy Winner

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,

If anyone can grapple the Norris Trophy from the clutches of multiple winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings, it is Chara.

The numbers speak for themselves. His 16 goals rank him among the league leaders for defencemen. His plus-24 is one of the best totals in the NHL.

Yes, the Washington Capitals’ Mike Green is having an outstanding offensive season with 28 goals. And yes, the likes of Lidstrom, Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski and Shea Weber, just to mention a few, certainly deserve consideration.

Where Chara separates himself from the others is the ability to use his towering frame to completely smother opposing snipers, a quality his coach very much appreciates.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: zdeno+chara

You Can’t Run Rich Nash

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,

Last night, after Rick Nash was steamrolled by T.J. Oshie, the smallest player on the ice was the first responder with his team trailing the Blues 3-1 early in the third period. Kris Russell, all 5-foot-10, 180 pounds of him, went after Oshie. The hit produced a wild scrum and landed Russell in the box for four minutes (double minor, roughing). Oshie went for two minutes.

The entire sequence seemed to wake up the Jackets who responded with two quick goals from Kristian Huselius and Nash to tie it. The Jackets eventually lost 4-3 in a shootout, but coach Ken Hitchcock was proud of the response on individual and collective levels.

more on the Blue Jackets…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: rick+nash, t.j.+oshie

Skate With Lidstrom Or A Trip To Italy

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Fourteen-year-old Nick Kaufman likes fast cars, but he also is a fan of elite, mobile defensemen, one in particular.

So Kaufman, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, chose to meet his hockey idol, Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, instead of a trip to Italy to tour the Ferrari plant.

“He’s my favorite player,” Kaufman said. “I’ve been a Red Wings fan for six years.”

Kaufman, from Maple Grove, Minn., skated with Lidstrom after practice Saturday at Joe Louis Arena and took some shots on Ty Conklin. Afterward, he sat next to Lidstrom in the dressing room while his parents snapped pictures.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nick+lidstrom

Why Say No To The Winter Olympics

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Peter Adler at The Cult of Hockey,

Gary Bettman, quite correctly, in my humble opinion, replies he has a terrible difficulty finding one single advantage for the NHL. It’s not as if people will start playing hockey somewhere in Africa, just because they saw top professionals plying their trade somewhere in Russia.

Let’s get to basics here.

Of course, many suspect Bettman is trying to twist the Russians’ arm: sign the player transfer deal, and we’d be willing to listen.

No matter what you think of the current commissioner, he can hardly be THAT shortsighted. After all, even if the Russians signed the agreement tomorrow, there’s still five years to go to Sochi, and one can’t fathom they would be willing to commit to that long a term. And it wouldn’t be the first time in modern history that the Russians would sign on a dotted line, win concessions from the other side, and then find a way to get their side out of the deal. That’s just their way of doing things.

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Time To Feel The Pressure

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Craig Custance of Sporting News Today says the pressure is on for- Jay Bouwmeester, Bob Gainey, the Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Osgood and Craig MacTavish.

Each of the above are under different types of pressure and a good, quick read.

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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