Kukla's Korner

Season On The Line For The Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press,

The Wings are on the verge of proving that their regular-season record—often blamed on injuries—was more real than they admit.

“We ended up a five seed because that’s how we produced, how we played,” Zetterberg said. “If we would have been better, we would have been higher.”

They must be careful that that’s not their epitaph. There is no shame in taking lumps in any NHL playoff round. But great teams have to give more than they get.


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

Interest In The NHL Is Good

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from John Consoli of MEDIAWEEK,

Five years after a labor dispute put the kibosh on the 2004-05 National Hockey League season, the sport is enjoying a resurgence, as ratings and advertising revenue are showing signs of growth. The improvement couldn’t come at a better time for the league, which is expected to start negotiations on its new television rights contract later this year….

“There is a good, healthy buzz about the NHL,” said Christine Merrifield, senior vp and director of video investment at MediaVest. “From an advertiser perspective, it’s priced fairly. and being able to combine broadcast and cable buys is good.” Scale may be the only factor working against the NHL. “The one downside is that it doesn’t have a mass reach that the other major TV sports have,” she said.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Business of Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink

First Round Letters

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,

With the best first round of the playoffs in years coming down to the short strokes, I thought I would take time to write some letters to people in the hockey world.

Dear Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings:

I don’t know how this series will ultimately turn out, but thanks for everything. Yours has been by far the most compelling and entertaining series in the first round so far. And given the quality of hockey we’ve seen this April, that’s saying something.

The only downside is that one of you won’t be around for the second round and I worry how much the winner will have left after Game 7.

Dear NHL referees:

Hey guys. When a player, either a defenseman or a forward, is standing in the slot and he gets cross-checked in the back and falls face-first into the ice, isn’t that supposed to be a penalty?


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Luongo Could Be The Playoff Story

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

Last week, I worried that there might be no Canadian teams left in the playoffs by the middle of this week (hyper-sensitive Canucks fans, of course, took that as a prediction they would lose even though I picked their team to win the series before it began. Sigh.). Well, the Canucks are certainly more than alive, and probably will be the favourite in the new round regardless of their opponent, and the Montreal Canadiens still have a shot, while down 3-2, against the Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals.

They were that impressive in the final two games against the Kings, one a romp, one a tight contest in which they had to fight from behind and win by scoring late.

For a few years, the Luongo worship in Vancouver as been a bit silly, really, given his lack of production when it mattered. GM Mike Gillis’ decision to make him captain just added to the cult of personality.

But with all that behind him, and without having a particularly good season, wouldn’t it be a compelling story if this became the spring in which Luongo finally delivered on all that promise in the NHL post-season.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: roberto+luongo

Kings May Only Get Better

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,

...The Canucks saluted the Kings too. “They’ve got a great team,” Henrik Sedin said. “If they can stay together, they’re going to be an unbelievable team for a lot of years.”

That prediction has a better chance of coming true if they get better goaltending, or at least the consistency Quick displayed before his late-season fade. Smyth made a point of consoling Quick after the game.

“I thought he had an excellent year. He’s the one reason we’re here in the playoffs. And I just wanted to tell him that and that he’s a big difference,” Smyth said.

His play is also one of the reasons they’re done, though depth up the middle and a lack of speed on defense were keys too.

Those thoughts are for General Manager Dean Lombardi to ponder in the coming months. On Sunday players couldn’t help but ponder what might have been.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Savard Could Return Tonight

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Early this afternoon, Marc Savard will head to a doctor’s office, undergo yet another neuropsych test (considered slightly trickier than the SAT), and hope to hear the sweet words, “Yep, you’re good to go.’’

Good to go, like tonight at the Garden, in Game 6 of the Bruins’ first-round playoff series with the Sabres. Good to go, like grab a stick and strap on the helmet — one just out of the box, by the way — and work the kind of magic that was woefully missing when the rest of his teammates skated without passion Friday night in Buffalo.

Everyone in Black and Gold looked aimless in that visit to HSBC Arena. They just couldn’t point to Matt Cooke as the root cause of their Grade 9.8 cerebral malaise, as Savard can.

Savard is close to returning from his concussion. Very close. Anyone who sat in the Garden’s empty stands late yesterday morning, watching the tricky pivot scoot around with Brad Marchand and Trent Whitfield his wingers, had to draw the same conclusion. He skated with zip, confidence, even a smile.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marc+savard

NHL Gets It Wrong With Hossa Decision

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from David Climer of the Tennessean,

Right here, let me point out that the Predators never should have let it come to that. It shouldn’t have mattered if Hossa was on the ice, in the penalty box or in the shower. The Predators have only themselves to blame.

First, how can a team that is 0-for-postseason on the power play expect to advance?

Second, you’ve got to find a way to protect your goal in the closing seconds of regulation. Even after the Blackhawks pulled goalie Antti Niemi, the Predators should have been able to kill the clock. Martin Erat’s blind pass that was intercepted and ultimately led to the tying goal will be remembered as the turning point of this series unless Nashville wins the next two games.

But back to Hossa: I don’t think anybody is surprised that the NHL’s kangaroo court decided not to suspend him after conducting a hearing on the hit. Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, determined that the five-minute penalty “was significant and appropriate” action by the referee.

Translation: Suspending a name player in the postseason is bad for business. Get over it.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Beating Washington

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,

The top-seeded, daunting Washington Capitals are in charge of the Flyers’ fate. Another win and the Capitals will be the Flyers’ next opponent. But maybe that isn’t so scary.

Alex Ovechkin remains the league’s most dangerous, uncontainable player. No one questions that. Ovechkin has five goals and four assists in the Capitals’ five playoff games.

But the Capitals might as well be renamed the Ovechkins based on their performance in taking a 3-2 lead over the Canadiens. They have been incredibly one-dimensional. Their league-best power play, which converted at a 25.1 percent success rate in the regular season - nearly 4 percent higher than the next closest team - is just 1-for-24 so far.

Their dual scoring threat of Ovechkin and 40-goal scorer Alex Semin? Semin hasn’t scored in 12 straight playoff games. He has been so bad that coach Bruce Boudreau referred to him as one of “four or five passengers” who have been riding on Washington’s playoff bus.


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

Vancouver Thinking Chicago

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

And so it looks as though the Vancouver Canucks will be granted what they so wished for at the outset of training camp.

Another shot at the Chicago Blackhawks, the team they felt never should have eliminated them from Cup contention, could be very much in their future which is fine with everyone in the Vancouver room.

Because they remain a dark shadow in their recent past. Obviously nothing is set in stone with the Hawks still having to finish off the Nashville Predators, but that’s the way it’s looking and it’s not lost on any of the Vancouver players who went through last year’s anguish, a series they felt was within their grasp only to slip away after so many opportunities to close it out.

“I guess it’s looking like we might both get another shot at each other although that series isn’t over yet,” said Ryan Kesler, who likely still remembers Andrew Ladd’s wicked hit that went uncalled in that series. And it would be pretty astonishing if Rick Rypien has forgotten Ben Eager’s also totally ignored by the league and totally unsolicited shot that coldcocked him.

And who could ever forget Adam Burish’s diving exploits, the 10-metre board all prepared for his performances.


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

Broadcast Questions

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star, T

he calibre of play and the excitement level have all justified the tremendous amount of air time the playoffs have gobbled up. For the most part, so has the television coverage.

But despite all those elements, there are still far too many mysteries presented every night.

Behold the playoff puzzlers:

• Who decided that the best way to open a hockey broadcast was to show players either getting off a bus or walking into an arena? Maybe there’s a product placement deal with the bus lines.

• Why does CBC’s P.J. Stock continue to invent new words every night? On Saturday, it was “Cammalleriwouldgivethemthelead.” Slow down, please.


Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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