Kukla's Korner

GDT - WC Quarterfinals, Game 1: Red Wings (5) at ‘Yotes (4)  (10:00)

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Jeff OKWingnut

Facing scoring talent loss due to salary cap issues, and an absurd rash of injuries to top line players, the Red Wings/Griffins battled all year and have managed to earn a spot in the playoffs for the 19th consecutive season (the longest current streak in all of professional sports).  DET’s run of excellence is a testament to Mr. Illitch, Ken Holland, Jim Devellano, and a core of players determined to succeed.  DET have won four Stanley Cups since 1997 and appeared in six Finals since 1996. In their final 15 games this season, the Wings finished 12-1-2, they led the NHL with 32 points since March 1, and went 15-3-2 after the Olympic break.  However, DET hits the road to open the playoffs for the first time since the 1991-92 season, and PHX have the 5th best home record.

At the other end of the spectrum, the ‘Yotes haven’t been in the playoffs since 2002 and haven’t won a playoff series since 1987 – 10 seasons before the franchise left Winnipeg to relocate to Phoenix.  The ‘Yotes also finished the season strong, going 13-4-2, including a nine game win streak, and a seven-game home winning streak. It is worth noting that PHX earned 14 points this season via the shootout. 

Eleven weeks have passed since the last game between these two teams on Jan. 26.  Neither DET nor PHX have the same roster. PHX added five new players, including forwards Lee Stempniak, and Wojtek Wolski, who each have 18 points in 18 games with the ‘Yotes.  DET have (finally) returned every player on LTIR (only Kirk Maltby remains on the injured list).

Uncle Mike has a plan and is confident:  “We’re gonna have to play real patient because they’re gonna be hard to beat,” Babcock said. “But I like our team. We’ve battled through a lot of adversity, and we’re as healthy as we’ve been all year.”  Babcock also could have added that Jimmah saves(!)  The desert dogs are soon going to realize what it means to be down and out.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
 

Broadcast For The American Hockey Fans

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

On a recent trip to Florida, Usual Suspects was watching the NHL Network and the MLB Network in a fashionable establishment (okay, it was Dune Dog). There is no comparison between the slick, well-financed MLB product and the NHL‘s more frugal competitor. But, surprisingly, there were people watching the NHL Channel on several TVs around the joint.

Few in Canada understand what a lifeline it is to hockey fans served intermittently (or not at all) in the U.S. by Versus and NBC. It might do better, however, to concentrate on the American fans who are starved for something/ anything in markets that place hockey below bass fishing. Currently, the content seems too Toronto/ Canadian biased to us. That market is already super-saturated by Canadian coverage on the three sports networks and CBC. Concentrate more on the guy in Alabama or Arkansas who must persevere with his hockey passion. And more cowbell.

more hockey notes…

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

Sharks Are Ready For Round 1

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,

You have seen them this week, all over the Bay Area. They live in your neighborhood. They dine at your favorite restaurant. They post tweets at the next work cubicle. You can recognize them by their eerie expression of wary hope mixed with glorious doom.

They are Sharks fans. And they are afraid, so afraid. They want to know if it’s safe to go back in the water. For the playoffs, I mean. Perhaps you are even a fearful fan yourself, asking the same question.

My comforting answer: Yes. Yes, you can. You can be optimistic.

For the next two weeks, anyway. After that, no guarantees.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Flyers Plan For A Deep Playoff Run

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,

So what is Laviolette’s recipe for playoff success? It’s hard to know until you see him up close, but he offered a glimpse or two as the team finished preparations.

When he deduced that reporters were focusing on the veteran Pronger as a leader going into this postseason, Laviolette was quick to shift the focus.

“Let me just say that Mike Richards always has ratcheted it up every time there’s been an opportunity,” Laviolette said, “whether it’s been Olympics or world championships or playoffs or big games. He’s a guy that we look to. . . . When the chips are down, he’s played hard. He’s been good for us in big games. We’ve got a lot of them coming up.”

That may seem like nothing much, but Laviolette is keenly aware of the perception that Pronger is more of a captain, by nature and by accomplishment, than Richards. He volunteered his thoughts on Richards for a reason. And it is true, by the way. Richards was terrific for Team Canada in the Olympics, and he was one of the few Flyers who showed up Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Laviolette needs both men, Richards and Pronger, to make a deep playoff run.

more

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Payne Will Have The Interim Label Removed Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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

Hours after Keith Tkachuk’s retirement news conference had ended Tuesday, the stage and chairs inside the Scottrade Center atrium remained in position.

That’s because the Blues will hold another news conference today, in which the club will announce Davis Payne will have the interim tag removed from his name and become the 23rd head coach of the franchise.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: davis+payne

How To Beat The Penguins By Dan Bylsma

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,

Bylsma went on radio station “The X” yesterday afternoon and offered a remarkably candid look at what he would do if he were Cory Clouston, coach of the Ottawa Senators, and had to come up with a “game plan” that would be appropriate for taking on his Penguins.

As Bylsma last year was an untried rookie NHL coach who went all the way, and Clouston this year is entering his first playoffs, it seemed a generous offer indeed.

Bylsma, of course, would continue to have Ottawa defencemen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov on the ice whenever Crosby steps over the boards. They are the ones held most responsible for Crosby’s dreary two-goals-in-17-games output against the Senators.

“It’s tough to get away from,” Bylsma conceded.

The real key, however, “if I was to put a game plan together for the Ottawa Senators – it would be to frustrate our skill players.” In fact, he might as well have said one skill ‘player” – Evgeni Malkin, last year’s winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Malkin has a habit of taking dumb penalties at the worst possible moments, and seems, in fact, to be getting worse rather than better.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

It’s Simple- Beat The Red Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic,

The Red Wings are the team you didn’t want to face in the first round. They are the team you’d love to send home early.

Their fans are notorious for snapping up tickets and making a road game feel much more like home.

They are coached by Mike Babcock and employ Steve Yzerman, the two men who left Shane Doan off Canada’s Olympic hockey team. Subplots abound, and there’s no easing into these playoffs.

“As a boy, you don’t grow up dreaming about playing hockey,” Doan said. “You dream of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.”

The playoffs offer new beginnings for everyone, and it’s especially true in Arizona. Beat the Red Wings, and the future becomes a promise, not a threat.

more

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

Getting Closer To New Ownership In Phoenix

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic,

The Glendale City Council unanimously approved a Jobing.com Arena lease proposal with Phoenix Coyotes buyer Jerry Reinsdorf Tuesday night.

The decision means that Reinsdorf, a Chicago sports mogul, and his group of investors will work with the city to hammer out the details of the lease and that Ice Edge Holdings is essentially out of the running.

It also means that Reinsdorf is on track to owning the team, pending the approval of the NHL.

continued

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

A Chance To Win

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Erik Brady of USA TODAY,

The Cold War, overarching theme of the second half of the 20th century, is long gone.

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin is living, skating, body-checking proof.

Who could have guessed when he was born in the midst of its chill that a son of Moscow would emerge one day as the most popular athlete in that other capital city?

“Amazing, isn’t it?” says Ted Leonsis, the capitalist who owns the Capitals. “Alex is a global citizen.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+ovechkin

Stay On Your Side Of The Ice

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Darren Dreger of TSN,

On a pre-playoff conference call on Monday, Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations informed coaches and general managers of what the league views as potential postseason hot spots.

The threat of any confrontation in the pre-game warmup is of particular concern to the league.  To the point, Campbell warned the 16 teams, if an altercation mars the series, the offending team could lose a roster spot on the night the incident takes place, meaning the disciplined team would be forced to play the game with 17 skaters and two goalies.

continued

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

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