Kukla's Korner

Pittsburgh’s “Key” Player This Season

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

The Pittsburgh Penguins are defending Stanley Cup finalists.  Despite that they had a slow start this season that had them out of the playoff race.  The slow start even led to them firing their coach.  These problems occurred despite having Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in their line-up.  Malkin was leading the NHL in points and Crosby was not too far behind him.  The problems were largely tied to a lack of an elite defenceman and poor goal prevention.  They were solved when Sergei Gonchar returned from a shoulder injury.

Gonchar only played 25 games for the Penguins this season, but it was in those games that Pittsburgh climbed back up to serious contention.  Gonchar continued his top play into the playoffs scoring five points in six games.  He scored the series winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers,

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Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Dater Dreaming

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,

Constructed in my dozing off for eight hours (thanks Ambien) were vivid scenes that included Michel Goulet being named the new Avalanche general manager. A foretelling of the future? Could be. Obviously, something in me is trying to spur along the decision-making process of Pierre Lacroix, who will hit the two-week mark tomorrow without a GM.

Somehow, the dream began with me getting off a flight into some warm weather city, and then getting out of a car and walking into some big hotel-type of conference room, where a “Goulet named Avalanche GM” press release was put in front of me….

Somehow, the dream evolved into Mike Babcock getting fired from the Red Wings, and me commiserating with him in another fancy hotel ballroom area.

more

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

What Went Wrong?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,

The story, given its oddity, went global in a heartbeat: “Former Philadelphia Flyers’ draft pick admits to killing referee, burying him in a forest and carrying on for a year as if nothing had happened.”

It sounded like something David Cronenberg would direct or Stephen King would write.

Immediately, there were questions: Why? How? How could the likeable young forward who came to Seattle and won over his teammates kill a man by stabbing him 14 or 15 times in the chest and stomach?

What went wrong in Ladislav Scurko’s seemingly perfect world?

more

Filed in: Hockey Related Stories, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ladislav+scurko

Do The Rangers Have A Chance To Win Game 7?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Artur Staple of Newsday,

There’s a Game 7 coming on Tuesday in Washington. The Rangers may want to skip the trip.

It was clear from the start of this series with the Caps that the Rangers needed most, if not all, of the breaks to win each game. They needed Henrik Lundqvist to stand on his head, they needed Alex Ovechkin to hit a post or two and they needed a couple lucky bounces to produce more than a goal.

The breaks are gone now, washed away with a squirt from a water bottle on Friday night. John Tortorella watched from a suite in Madison Square Garden today, with Jim Schoenfeld behind the bench for the 5-3 Caps win that forced Tuesday’s Game 7.

Schoenfeld, Tortorella, Mike Keenan, Toe Blake… Wouldn’t have mattered who was coaching today, really. The Rangers are overmatched in this series, they have been since it began and the only way they can win is for Lundqvist to work his magic.

continued

added 6:27pm, from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,

Rangers fans were howling about the injury suffered by ace penalty killer Blair Betts, who was hit in the head by Caps forward Donald Brashear midway through the first period. Betts was left sprawled on the ice, had to be helped to the dressing room and didn’t return. Brashear and Rangers defenseman Paul Mara both got roughing penalties after some post-hit grappling, but Brashear wasn’t nicked for the initial contact.

Rangers stand-in coach Jim Schoenfeld said Betts was hurt “significantly,” and then also said that center Brandon Dubinsky was bit on the arm by Caps defenseman Shaone Morrisonn during a different scrum.

“We’re gonna have to do without Betts most likely,” Schoenfeld said. “Dubinsky had to get a tetanus shot because he was bit on the arm in a scrum, I don’t know what effect that will have on him, so his status remains in question.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Flames Need To Raise Their Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via the Globe and Mail,

Mike Keenan appealed to his players’ pride and captain Jarome Iginla called on teammates to prove the Flames have the depth to stave off elimination from the NHL playoffs despite their injuries….

After the game, Keenan blamed himself for not preparing his team better and Iginla, with one shot on net, called his own performance “terrible.”

Keenan shifted the burden of responsibility to his players Sunday.

“The team should be prepared to respond to any situation that arises,” Keenan said. “Be prepared to play to their level of ability and the expectations we have of them and more importantly what they have of themselves.”

read on

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

Brashear Hit On Betts Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Donald Brashear with a hard hit on Blair Betts today.

Brashear received a 2 minute minor for roughing as did Paul Mara of the Rangers.

Elbow, shoulder, late hit or just a clean hit?

Betts has not returned to the game and no report on his condition.

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: blair+betts, donald+brashear

Schoenfeld Talks About Tortorella Suspension

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot at the NY Times,

Schoenfeld talked about what triggered Tortorella’s outburst, which was caught by Verizon Center security cameras and which led to the N.H.L.’s suspension, levied at 10 o’clock Saturday night. In suspending Tortorella, the league said that the coach squirted water at fans, then had a drink thrown at him from the stands, then threw a bottle that struck another fan.

“I’ll tell you, I know the heart of the guy, and I know the thing that triggered him,” Schoenfeld said, then referred to the Verizon Center fans behind the bench area. “It wasn’t any sling they threw at him, and there were many. It was something they said about one of his players.”

Schoenfeld continued, addressing reporters: “And you guys, it’s easy to say that you’ve got to keep control or you’ve got to keep it in check, turn the other way, that there are rules. But there’s a certain part of your being when you’re a coach, and it’s just like being a parent. There are certain things you’ll put up with when people slander your kids, and there’s a certain line that people cross. And that’s what happened with John,” he added.

more

added 2:17pm, also from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot,

Just before Game 6 Sunday afternoon, the Rangers released a letter to N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman from G.M. Glen Sather, asking that the Washington Capitals be disciplined for failing to control the actions of their fans in the incident that led to the one-game suspension to Rangers Coach John Tortorella for squirting water and throwing a water bottle at fans late in Game 5.

The letter alleged that fans spat on Ranger bench personnel, shouted homophobic remarks about Rangers players and screamed in Tortorella’s ear. The letter said that Verizon Center security guards and ushers did nothing when asked by the Rangers bench personnel to restrain the fans.

continued, copy of the letter can be read there…

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jim+schoenfeld, john+tortorella

Around The League Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

• The Minnesota Wild have a growing list of interested candidates on their radar for their vacant general manager position.

But it has put owner Craig Leipold in bit of a bind….

If he were to hire a rising star such as Paul Fenton, the Nashville Predators assistant GM, people might think Leipold is dipping into an old well because he used to own the Predators.

• If Bob Gainey made things tougher to deal for Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier after his rip job on Lightning GM Brian Lawton, here’s one other destination to consider: the Los Angeles Kings….

• The Florida Panthers might trade Jay Bouwmeester’s negotiating rights a few days before July 1, when he becomes a free agent.

But could they get any more than a third-round draft pick?

more hockey notes…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Islanders Thinking Draft - Looking At The Wings Way

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from NYI Point Blank,

You can bank on this. If the Red Wings scouts truly knew Datsyuk and Zetterberg were going to be perennial all-stars, they would never have waited so long to take them. They might not have used a first or even a second round pick on them, but they would not have chosen Jari Tolsa (120th overall), Andrei Maximenko (149th) and Kent McDonell (181st) with their only three draft selections before tabbing Zetterberg.

Before they finally drafted Datsyuk, they would not have used rounds 2-5 to take Ryan Barnes, Tomek Valtonen, Jake McCracken, Brent Hobday, Calle Steen and Adam DeLeeuw.

The Datsyuk and Zetterberg picks were amazing. They were the stuff of which champions and legendary scouting careers are born. But don’t think teams - even as great as Detroit - have the ability to make a habit of it. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are the only A-list NHLers the Red Wings have produced in the late rounds since 1995. Other than the since-waived Kyle Quincey and maybe Darren Helm, they haven’t drafted any B-listers in the late rounds in the last 14 years either.

more

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

History On The Rangers Side

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dan David of NewYorkRangers.com,

No Rangers team has ever lost a playoff series that it led 3-1, going a perfect 12-0 in such situations (perhaps because the opponent had to win some desperation games in front of New York’s fans).

There is also the matter of Game 6 history. Over the past 10 seasons, two-thirds of all first-round playoff series that one team led 3-2 ended in Game 6. Since 1998, only one in three teams faced with the Capitals’ current situation—at home or away—has managed to force a Game 7, and more than half of those teams (56 percent) still went on to lose the series.

more on the Rangers…

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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