Kukla's Korner

Theodore Is The Question Mark

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,

The biggest question facing the Washington Capitals as they prepare to open the Eastern Conference first round against the New York Rangers is whether José Theodore can catch fire after an uneven regular season in which he temporarily lost his starting job.

Playing behind the league’s third-best offense but an inexperienced team that’s prone to exposing its goaltender to prime scoring chances, Theodore won 32 games this season, second only to his 33 victories with the Montreal Canadiens in 2003-04. In every other category by which goaltenders are judged, however, the 32-year-old’s statistics were unimpressive despite a second-half rebound.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jose+theodore

Cap Issues In Colorado

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,

The worst season in Avalanche history is over, and Francois Giguere paid for it with his job. But coach Tony Granato remains.

Many people are wondering: How can that be? Pierre Lacroix knows all the reasons, but other than a few sentences on a sheet of paper Monday, he won’t say anything.

But this offers the biggest clue: $43.392 million. That’s the amount the Avs are committed to paying just 13 players in 2009-10 — seven of whom are 30 or older.

I didn’t have a bug planted in the Avs’ luxury suite occupied late in the season on at least one occasion by Lacroix and owner Stan Kroenke. But it wouldn’t be outlandish to wonder if Kroenke had said something like: “Wait a minute, Pierre. I know we stink this year, but are you telling me I’m on the hook for another year of this stuff?”

Fair or not, Giguere was seen by too many hockey people as the equivalent of Nero, fiddling while the Avalanche burned.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Best Of The Week

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Five minutes of the best saves, hits and goals from the NHL

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Media, NHL Video, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Flames Prepared For The Noise In Chicago

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,

By the time anthem singer launches into the “oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wa-a-ve . . .” bit on Thursday night, the vast wall of sound will be rising up, moving outward, like a massive rogue wave at sea, bent on levelling anything in its path.

Eardrums might burst. Floorboards will shudder.

And any old-timers at the United Center, those familiar with the long out-of-date, completely out-of-this-world old barn that once stood across the way, those who remember, will dab nostalgically at moistened eyes.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Keep Or Trade Lecavalier

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damian Cristordero of the St. Petersburg Times,

The Lightning brass over the next several months will crunch the numbers, both financial and statistical, evaluate whatever offers that might develop and gauge the pulse of the community.

Most of all, though, it will take its time. As former Tampa Bay coach Jacques Demers said of deciding whether to retain captain Vinny Lecavalier or trade him: “It’s probably the biggest decision in franchise history.”

The question is on the table, and, basically, it comes down to money. Lecavalier’s 11-year, $85 million deal raises his salary to $10 million next season from $7.167 million. If, as expected, the Lightning carries a payroll of $43 million to $45 million, Lecavalier’s contract will eat up almost a quarter.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: vinny+lecavalier

Predicting The First Round In The West

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Upsets, when they occur, happen most frequently coming right out of the gate when teams are energized by the possibilities - either because it’s all so new to them (four of the eight Western Conference qualifiers were playoff newcomers this year); or because it’s been a long but necessary preamble (for perennial contenders Detroit, San Jose and more recently, the Pittsburgh Penguins).

Since the lockout, No. 3 seeds have had their share of issues (losing four of six series in the opening round to sixth-seeded teams). Since the current conference-based playoff format was introduced, No. 7s have always given No. 2s a hard time as well. Moreover, the odds of winning it all coming out of that different four-five bracket have been negligible over time.

Accordingly, if something extraordinary is going to happen, it’ll generally happen in the next fortnight. Here is how 2009’s opening round shapes up:

No. 1 San Jose Sharks v. No. 8 Anaheim Ducks

The first Battle of California since that memorable 1969 series between the Oakland Seals and Los Angeles Kings may be closer than the 26-point gap between the Pacific Division rivals suggests. The two played a home-and-home series two weekends ago; Anaheim spanked San Jose in the opener and lost the return engagement because of its parade to the penalty box. If the Ducks’ discipline falters, and it frequently does, then the Sharks will eat them up on the power play. If the referees swallow their whistles and it becomes a five-on-five engagement, however, the Ducks have a chance for a major upset.

SAN JOSE IN SEVEN

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Columbus Has More Than A Goalie

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,

It sounds as if the Detroit Red Wings think the Blue Jackets are pretty much a one-man band.

They would deny that, of course, but there might be enough evidence to convict. Consider Henrik Zetterberg’s reaction when he was asked about facing the Blue Jackets and their rookie goaltender, Steve Mason, in the first round of the NHL playoffs:

“He’s basically taken them to the playoffs by himself,” Zetterberg said. “It’s easy to play well when you have a goalie like that that really stops the pucks. They have good confidence in him.”

The Jackets obviously have one or two other players who might have lent a hand in the playoff drive—hey, if Zetterberg tries real hard, he could even come up with three or four—but Mason leaps to the Red Wings’ minds because they had so much trouble with him this season.

continued

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

Wondering

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from James Duthie of TSN,

Ideally, columnists and commentators (not to mention those disturbed creatures who attempt to do both) are supposed to provide answers.  But this time of year, with 16 hockey teams about to start from scratch, there are none.  Only questions. ...

I wonder if there is a lovable Cinderella in this bunch, like the 2006 Oilers, who were the 8th seed in the west, and came within two wins of a title.  St. Louis would fit the bill.  Better yet, Columbus.  With a sensational rookie goalie (Steve Mason), and a superstar (Rick Nash) who has waited six seasons to taste the playoffs, anyone looking for a bandwagon to leap on might just have a spring fling with the Jackets.  (Or they might be gone in four…this is why it’s called “wondering”.)

The East is trickier, because the teams in the Cinderella spots are underachievers with baggage.  Could you really fall in love with the underdog…Rangers?  Sean Avery doesn’t exactly make us feel all warm and fuzzy.

Speaking of which, I wonder if John Tortorella will keep up this calm, rational, media-friendly persona that he has adopted in New York.  Or will he eventually snap, and stick a pen in some reporters’ neck after blowing a third period lead in Game 3.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

First Round Playoff Predictions

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway soon.  It is time to make predictions.  Last year I managed a respectable 10-5 record in the playoffs.  Let’s see how I can do this year. 

San Jose defeats Anaheim  This is the first time ever for this battle of California series.  Anaheim is much stronger than a typical eighth seed.  They are two years removed from a Stanley Cup victory and retain much of that talent.  They have further young scoring talent in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.  They can be a strong playoff team if Jean-Sebastien Giguere provides goaltending.  However, San Jose is the team to beat this year.  They are the most well rounded playoff team and coming off a first place finish in the regular season.  The Sharks will get pushed in the first round, but they should be too much for the Ducks.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Stars Now Have Internal Cap

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,

The Stars will have to plug holes next season on a budget, co-general manager Brett Hull said as the team held exit interviews and physicals with players Monday at the Dr Pepper StarsCenter.

When asked when the team might know its budget or whether it could spend to the expected $56 million salary cap, Hull replied: “I can guarantee you it isn’t going to be to the cap.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Dallas Stars, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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