Kukla's Korner

Phoenix Gets Hot In The Stretch

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

As teams in the NHL have ten games or less left this season, now is the important time for teams to get hot.  The hottest team right now is the Cinderella team - the Phoenix Coyotes.  They have won their last nine games straight.  They are a team that has been through a bankruptcy and are being kept alive by NHL ownership this season. 

They are a team that finished third from last in the West Conference last season.  Last year at mid-season, Phoenix looked like a playoff team until the rumors of financial problems began.  They derailed the season.  Wayne Gretzky was not a strong enough coach to keep things on track, but Dave Tippett is.

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You Know The Playoffs Are Close When Sharks Are Being Questioned Again

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

They’re being bloodied on a lot of nights. They’re losing games, and might wind up as the fourth seed in the West rather than the first if Phoenix catches them.

If they roll through regular season and go out early in the playoffs, people always say, “So what else is new?” If they stumble, like all teams, in league play, inquiring minds want to know if they’re worried.

“Gee, I hadn’t heard that before,” laughed defenceman Dan Boyle.

“I’ve asked our guy (Sharks beat reporter) a hundred times to quit asking (that question),” deadpanned Boyle. “But, until we win, it’s not going to end.”

Coach Todd McClellan knows the score. “The playoff reputation is certainly out there every season,” he said. “But what happens every year is you change your team, the look of it, and all you get is the opportunity to win, like everybody else. The analogy I use is the basketball tournament in the NCAA. You qualify and then, who knows what’ll happen after that?”

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GDT - Game #72: Red Wings host Penguins (7:00)

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Jeff OKWingnut

The Wings are back at the Joe tonight after a stunningly successful three game Western Canada swing.  The heart pounding Wings are apparently determined to give their fans their moneys worth.  A must win in Calgary last Monday was accomplished by a Mule to Homer game-winning tip-in with 1:19 left in the 3rd.  After the Wings took a 3 day holiday, they predictably failed to show up in EDM on time, spotting the Oil a 2 goal lead.  Brain Rafalski maintained his excellent play from the Olympics, and with the extra skater on, potted the game-tying goal with tenths of a second remaining.  Alas the Wings failed (again) at the shootout point. Sat at VAN. Zetterberg potted the winner with tenths of a second remaining in the OT frame.  5 of 6 points, wins against CGY and VAN no less.  Those were clutch points, and the Wings have been clutch lately.

MIN won, in regulation against CGY Sunday afternoon.  The Wings are two points up with a game in hand.  The Wings are masters of their own fate.  If they can keep up their gritty/intense play, they will be a force to be reckoned with.  Skate to throat never seemed more appropriate. 

Game on Bitches

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Morning Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“It’s definitely hard, we don’t get that many opportunities to score goals, but when we do we usually hit the goalie or miss the net.  Eventually it’s going to turn around. We definitely want to turn it around as quick as possible. Me personally. I’d love to score. Who doesn’t? But there’s nothing I can do (but) just continue to play hard and things will turn around.

“I’m happy about my game. I’m trying to do as much as possible to help the team.”

-Alex Kovalev of the Ottawa Senators.  Kovalev is -10 with no points in his last nine games.  More on the Senators from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+kovalev

Friedman Deserves More Face Time

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,

Why is Elliotte Friedman so underused on Hockey Night In Canada ? While the program promotes former brawler P.J. Stock doing highlights and treatises on The Code, Friedman is typically reduced – outside of a feature on the Saturday pre-game show – to the cherished “What will it take to get back into this game?” interviews between periods and after games.

While understated on-camera, Friedman is capable of an open-ended question in under 10 seconds – without the parenthetical wandering of more famous names. He is still more comfortable in front of the lens than several of the Hot Stove ‘s stock players and commands respect from players and peers. Plus, Friedman – who was recruited from The Score – would deliver a smidgen of balance to the editorial slant of the show that leans toward … shall we say “traditional” values.

continued

Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, CBC HNIC, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: elliotte+friedman

Flyers No Longer A Playoff Lock

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sam Carchidi of Broad Street Bull,

In Sunday’s loss, Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec (44 saves) outplayed a shaky Brian Boucher (28 saves), moving ninth-place Atlanta to within four points of the Flyers in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers have 79 points, the same number as Montreal and Ottawa. All three teams are tied for fifth (excluding tie-breakers) and have 10 games left.

The Flyers play at struggling Ottawa Tuesday, host Minnesota on Thursday, and then travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Ottawa, which has lost five straight, plays at Montreal on Monday. That means the Flyers will drop to sixth or seventh before their next game.

Suddenly, the playoffs aren’t a lock.

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Coyotes Keep Winning

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dave Vest of PhoenixCoyotes.com,

The Coyotes, a team many observers in and around the NHL community left for dead before the season started, have climbed into first place in the Pacific Division standings and are tied for the most points in the Western Conference.

That’s right. Phoenix has officially risen.

Adrian Aucoin – aka ‘The Closer’ – and Radim Vrbata scored shootout goals to lead the Coyotes to a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday at the American Airlines Center. Vrbata’s goal came with Phoenix down 1-0 in the bottom of the third round and Aucoin, per usual, ended the game by scoring his goal in the fourth round.

The victory was Phoenix’s ninth in a row and it enabled the Coyotes to set a new franchise record for points in a season (97). The Coyotes will look to set another franchise mark – 10 consecutive wins – on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, the only team above them in the conference standings.

continued

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Thrashers Winning Without Russian Star

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Spin at the Toronto Star,

The Thrashers swept the stumbling, goaltender-less Flyers over the weekend after beating both Buffalo and Ottawa last week and are hot on the trail of eighth place Boston. While ex-Leafs may be killing the Calgary Flames — could you believe Vesa Toskala got the start last night in Minny? — they’re powering the Thrashers’ playoff drive as Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina play key roles.

GM Don Waddell took the public hit for not signing Kovalchuk, but the reality was this wasn’t a team that could pay one player $9- or $10 million a season and hope to flourish. Now, without Kovalchuk, they’re playing better hockey.

So much for star power.

Meanwhile, Kovalchuk’s future as an unrestricted free agent will be fascinating to watch. He didn’t exactly light it up last week when he came to town with the Devils. Despite all the talk that the KHL will come calling with an offer of $15 million a season, some attendance numbers out of the IIHF this morning provided some sobering news about just how big the Russia-based league actually is.

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Flames Started The Wrong Goalie

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,

The decision to start Vesa Toskala Sunday might’ve sounded like a good idea two weeks ago when the Flames backup beat Minnesota on the road.

It would’ve appeared to be a solid gamble when it was revealed he had a lifetime 4-0 record with a 1.44 goals-against average against the Wild.

Even ten minutes into Sunday’s contest, it appeared Brent Sutter’s gamble was a good one.

However, the reality is it cost the Flames two points.

Two of the three goals Toskala allowed on 12 shots were questionable efforts — the type a Vezina candidate like Miikka Kiprusoff hasn’t made in a long time.

continued

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

Don’t Believe The Reinsdorf Rumors

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Brahm Resnik of KPNX News,

The Biased Canadian Media that Coyotes fans love to hate stirred the pot again Saturday night.

ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun told “Hockey Night in Canada” viewers that Jerry Reinsdorf, the Coyotes’ one-time savior in bankruptcy court, was back in the game, elbowing aside the Ice Edge investors who’ve been negotiating to buy the team from the NHL.

I had been hearing the same thing in recent days from sources I’ve been talking to for more than a year on this story.

Here’s what Ice Edge CEO Daryl Jones had to say about a Reinsdorf rerun:

“Jerry Reinsdorf would be an incredible owner in the National Hockey League. My sense from his public statements is he’s not interested in the Coyotes. The fact that he’s even rumored to be interested validates our (interest).”

continued

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

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