Kukla's Korner

Iginla Ready

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

"This is what you play for," said Iginla, as the Flames prepared to meet the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in their first-round series. "Playing in the National Hockey League is fun and going through a whole year with your teammates. But it's always better when you're winning and the playoffs are a whole other level - and I still haven't got enough of those yet." For the first time in 11 seasons, the Flames go into the playoffs with the weight of a little extra expectation on their collective shoulders. In 2004, when they advanced to the Stanley Cup final, they were the ultimate Cinderella story.
more

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Two Stubborn Mules

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

A Blackhawk fan speaks out... from the Chicago Tribune,

I think it is time everyone starts taking a harder stance on the Blackhawks' failures and not let them off the hook so easy. If they played in New York, they would be crucified and forced into putting a better product on the ice and being more fan-friendly. Dale Tallon and Trent Yawney are up against more than other teams and salary caps; they're up against two stubborn mules (Bill Wirtz and Bob Pulford) that think constantly making personnel changes, alienating the fans and memories alone will bring fans back.
continued

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Now What St. Louis

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Gordaon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Start the party! The Blues won the NHL Draft lottery and got the first overall pick. This would have been better last year -- when superstar Sidney Crosby was available –- but perhaps it IS an omen of better things to come. As Blues fans know, this franchise hasn’t caught many breaks from the league during the last 20 years or so. So Dave Checketts should see this as a good sign. His hockey people (whomever they will be) will likely pick between explosive collegiate scorer Phil Kessel and Erik Johnson, a Chris Pronger wannabe on defense. Which way will the Blues go? Kessel seems like the logical pick, but let’s look at the factors:
continued image photo via the AP

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Who Are The Refs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Hockey Refs,

Referees selected for the playoffs will participate in conference calls before the games begin Friday to ensure everyone is on the same page and those who don’t call the strict standard will be dropped from assignments. “How long you work in the playoffs is discretionary, and that depends on how well you’re working,” added Bettman. “And if a guy decides he’s putting the whistle away, then he’s done.” This has prompted many to suggest that many newer officials will be allocated to the playoffs, as some of the older officials have resisted this season’s standards of enforcement. The selections were made Wednesday, but the NHL has elected not to reveal the referees and linesmen until the game day.

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Did You Know

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the NHL,

-Detroit's Chris Chelios could replace Lester Patrick as the oldest player to play for a Stanley Cup champion. -There were 79 individual, single-game performances of three goals or more in 2005-06. -The elimination of the two-line offside pass, the return of the "tag-up," and the waving off of icing for a pass that is deemed receivable were rule changes that produced almost 13,000 fewer stoppages this season than in 2003-04.
much more...

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The Roundtable Part 2 At JABS

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The roundtable organized by the Toronto Star's Chris Young features the final part which includes playoff predictions. Once again, thanks to Chris for organizing this and including me as a member of the distinguished panel.

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Blues Get #1 Pick

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the NHL, The St. Louis Blues won the National Hockey League Draft Drawing today and retained the first overall drafting position for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Saturday, June 24 at General Motors Place in Vancouver (6 p.m., ET, TSN, OLN). The Blues had the greatest chance that one of the numbered sequences assigned to them would be the winning combination, 25.0%, based on inverse order of regular-season finish. Under the lottery system, only the five teams with the fewest points had the chance to win the first overall selection; no team could move up more than four spots and no team could move backward more than one. The Blues have never selected first overall in their 39-year history. The club's highest pick was forward Perry Turnbull, selected second overall in 1979. The order of selection for the first 14 drafting positions in each round of the 2006 Entry Draft is as follows: 1. St. Louis Blues 2. Pittsburgh Penguins 3. Chicago Blackhawks 4. Washington Capitals 5. Boston Bruins 6. Columbus Blue Jackets 7. New York Islanders 8. Phoenix Coyotes 9. Minnesota Wild 10. Florida Panthers 11. Los Angeles Kings 12. Atlanta Thrashers 13. Toronto Maple Leafs 14. Vancouver Canucks

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Datsyuk Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Talk today on Detroit radio was Datsyuk may miss the Wings game tomorrow. WXYT started it this morning (with a little help from a source) and now WDFN is reporting he may not play tomorrow. More on this as confirmation continues, the latest word from the Wings was he would be a game time decision. added 12:35pm, from Sports-Express,

Datsyuk became Detroit top scorer this season despite being injured for the last two weeks as his team won the regular season in NHL. “I picked the injury in the beginning of April. Its two weeks already, and I hope to be back soon.” “Of course I would like to be perfectly fit for the weekend, when we start play-offs. Yesterday I trained with the team for the first time and I am not fully fit yet.”
Not sure when this interview took place, but Datsyuk skated yesterday on his own, it was an off day for the Wings. added 12:56pm, WXYT reporting Babcock talked after practice today and he does NOT expect Datsyuk to play tomorrow. added 1:00pm, WDFN reporting Babcock said Datsyuk will NOt play. So expected and will not is yours to figure out. added 1:48pm, via the AP,
Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk is expected to miss the first game of the playoffs Friday against the Edmonton Oilers because of an injured left thigh. Datsyuk practiced Thursday, but Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he didn't appear to be ready to play in Game 1. "He looked to me like he was going to take tomorrow off,'' Babcock said. While the team did a drill at one end of the ice, Datsyuk skated in circles around the other net with a puck. Datsyuk said Monday he hoped to be healthy enough to play at the start of the playoffs after skating for the first time since being knocked out of the lineup April 3. He was hurt during a shootout win at Calgary, but didn't realize he was injured after being checked by Andrew Ference. "It was not a big hit,'' Datsyuk said earlier this week. "I felt it on the plane. It was swollen.''
added 3:03pm, Babcock was just on Detroit radio and said it is time to find out if they are any good. Said the Wings are a confident group and excited to prove it. Asked about Datsyuk, he said he is NOT playing, no ifs ands or buts. Flippula not brought. Babcock was asked if Dats would play game two, and said yep, he thinks Dats wants to play in game two and he thinks he will. added 7:07pm, Holland just confirmed, no Datsyuk Friday night.

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Nothing Better Than Playoff Hockey

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the San Francisco Chronicle,

I've watched about 10 minutes of hockey all season. I'll admit it. I suggested hockey fans boycott the clueless league that went to the penalty box for a year. I still think anyone who bought season tickets this year is/was a sucker. Boycott's over. Let's drop the puck. What the duck. There is nothing better in sports than a series-deciding NHL playoff game in overtime. Nothing. Maybe Stanford's "Hi-Def" football, but we'll have to see about that. Hockey is faster and more intense in the playoffs. The surge picks up with each round. You can feel it through the TV, even if the puck glows.
more

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Quinn Fired

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via TSN,

Head coach Pat Quinn has become the first to pay the price for the Toronto Maple Leafs failure to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team has fired Quinn and assistant coach Rick Ley, four days after the Maple Leafs were officially eliminated from the playoffs.

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