Kukla's Korner

What’s Wrong With Pittsburgh?

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a success story.  Their 102 points won the Atlantic Division and placed them second in the East Conference.  They were the eastern representative in the Stanley Cup final, eventually losing 4 games to 2 to the Detroit Red Wings.  As a young team built around superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, they were widely considered a team on the rise that would likely win a Stanley Cup before too long.  They haven’t continued that momentum.  Currently, Pittsburgh sits out of the playoffs in 10th place in the East Conference.  They have a record of 21-24 (with four losses counted as regulation ties).  They have lost more games than they have won this season.  That is a remarkable drop from the previous season.  What happened?

The biggest change from 2007/08 to 2008/09 in Pittsburgh is a dropoff in their ability to keep the puck out of their net.  Pittsburgh has a sixth worst 3.11 goals against per game.  Last season, they prevented better than half a goal per game more.  Their 2.58 goals against per game placed them 10th in the NHL.  There is also criticism of their lack of offensive depth, but I do not think this is an important part of the puzzle.  Last season, the team actually scored fewer goals per game (2.93 vs. 2.98 per game) and struggled through a Sidney Crosby injury.  Pittsburgh is a team that could be improved by better offensive depth, but that is not a reason for their drop in the standings.

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Top Rentals

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding,

To qualify as a rental, a player must be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Here is my list of top potential rentals.

1. Jay Bouwmeester (Florida): With Marian Gaborik hurt, Bouwmeester is the big prize. He’s an unusual case only in that there are teams that would like to acquire and sign him, and they might be willing to pay more if they can talk to him and get him on the dotted line….

2. Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis Blues): At 36, he’s still on a 25-goal pace, and he brings experience and an edge to his game….

3. Mathieu Schneider (Atlanta): Many teams are looking for a puck-moving defenseman, and Schneider still has a big shot and knows how to move the puck effectively.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

TSN Panel Chimes In

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from TSN,

Each week, the NHL on TSN panel voices their opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.

Question No. 1: Is Jason Spezza part of the problem or the solution in Ottawa?

Keith Jones: He is part of the solution. He’s only 25 years old and has a tremendous amount of upside and skill is the key word….

Bob McKenzie: I agree. Spezza needs to be part of the solution. There’s no question he’s had some shortcomings and flaws in his game but are the fatal? No, build your team around what he gives you offensively and fill in the holes. Defensively and all the rest of the things you need elsewhere.

read on with more Q & A…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jason+spezza

The Situation In Phoenix

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Darren Dreger of TSN,

The Phoenix Coyotes believe Arizona is a strong hockey market and are convinced this NHL team isn’t going anywhere.

However, the Coyotes are in a deep financial crisis, propped up by the National Hockey League with short-term financing protection and operating loans helping Phoenix manage cash flow to sustain their business for the remainder of the season.

It’s unclear how long the league will continue to carry this team, although league sources say contraction or a dispersal draft haven’t been discussed or considered.

Sources say the team is expected to be sold within the next two months with current owner Jerry Moyes retaining as much as 20 percent.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, d, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Goalie Style May Mean More Injuries

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,

The frequency and severity of leg injuries among NHL goaltenders, especially those who incorporate elements of the butterfly style, are a source of concern in several hockey cities….

here is an emerging consensus on the causes: specialized leg movements, more intensive practice drills, faster play in games (less clutching and grabbing means more shots and goals) and heavier schedules.

“The game has opened up, the new rules mean goaltenders are a lot busier, the saves are harder and more spectacular, there’s more stress on the joints,” said Anaheim Ducks goaltender coach François Allaire, who popularized the butterfly style — so-called because goalies spread to keep the inside of their leg pads flat against the ice — with Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy.

more

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Feel Like A Number?  As A Matter Of Fact, I Do….13

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

Hugely important evening in our world. 

The gutters have been overflowing the last few weeks with your obscenity and grade-school humor.  How could a family-oriented, well-intentioned, mild-mannered hockey blog turn into something so immature, so reeking of juvenistickidness?

I just don’t know.

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Still No Contract Talk For Wild Goaltender Backstrom

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from John Shipley of the Pioneer Press (Thursday edition),

Dwayne Roloson is no stranger to the expiring contract. He is playing with one now, just as he did with the Minnesota Wild in 2005-06.

It’s not easy.

“But in that situation,” he said, “you’ve got to block it out the best you can.”

Roloson likely will be in net tonight when the Edmonton Oilers take on the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. His counterpart will be Niklas Backstrom, who is looking more and more like 2009’s most eligible goaltender….

There’s no doubt Backstrom is the Wild’s top goaltender, yet it appears he’ll play in the Jan. 25 All-Star Game with a contract set to expire in July. Not only has general manager Doug Risebrough declined to discuss his contract situation, he also has declined to even say the Wild want him back.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: niklas+backstrom

Hopefully Other Teams Will Follow

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dave Stubbs of Habs Inside/Out,

From The Gazette’s Herb Zurkowsky, who covered practice today in Brossard:

Growing weary of widespread rumours and gossip surrounding injured players, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau on Wednesday said anyone sidelined indefinitely will now have the nature of their injuries released to the media.

No longer will the team report such players have upper- or lower-body injuries.

Carbonneau said the decision was reached following a meeting between himself, general manager Bob Gainey, vice-president (hockey operations) Julien BriseBois and the team’s communications department.

continued with an update on the Montreal injuries…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Official- Shanahan A Devil

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via TSN,

It’s official: the New Jersey Devils have made room for the return of unrestricted free agent Brendan Shanahan, signing the veteran on Wednesday.

Shanahan signed an $800,000 dollar contract, meaning he will receive about half of that for playing half of the NHL season.

Filed in: NHL Teams, New Jersey Devils, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brendan+shanahan

Has Time Run Out For Kirk Maltby?

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

Scratched. Again.  2 goals given up by a line that’s supposed to stop that crap.  Not quite as abrasive or irritating as he used to be.  Never much of a scorer and in the middle of his fourth consecutive negative +/- season (after going +24 in ‘03).  Almost a million bucks/year (883K but 950 next season?).  A hero to the masses and an example of the almost pathological organ-I-zational loyalty? Yep. Along with Mac…and, yeah, along with Chelios.

Well, we’ll see because there are options. 
Khan(!)

Mike Babcock was not happy to see the fourth line on the ice for two goals by Dallas in Monday’s 5-4 overtime loss.

“That can’t happen,’’ Babcock said.

He added: “I think Meech is playing real good and he’s playing real hard. The other thing is depth, gives you a chance to say, ‘Hey, we got to get this fixed up here.’ ‘’

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