Kukla's Korner

Have We Exhibit “A” in the NHL vs. Boarding?

Before reviewing the hit and rendering your own verdict, take a step toward immediately leveling the playing field by forgetting that the incident in question involves Sean Avery of the New York Rangers. (Debating his value to the game is irrelevant and considering any individual’s prior history of inappropriate action is not the intent here anyway.)

Once that’s been taken care of, study the hit – which resulted, so far, in nothing more than a boarding minor for the now-unnamed aggressor – and make your ruling:

On the very night after the NHL GMs called for tighter enforcement of boarding and charging penalties after convening for a second day in Boca Raton, should not this particular hit stand as exhibit A for boarding in the trial against exactly what the managers would like to see as little as possible of in the game?

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Filed in: New York Islanders, New York Rangers, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

How Much Will Arnott’s Injury Hurt Washington?

As Paul pointed to a little over an hour ago, dump n’ chase’s Mike Vogel reports that Washington Capitals center Jason Arnott is not accompanying the team on its critical six-game road trip that starts tonight in Montreal and is fraught with dangerous opponents throughout.

Arnott is said to be week-to-week with an undisclosed injury and will leave a big hole in the Caps’ lineup, having been exactly what they were looking for in acquiring the veteran from New Jersey at the trade deadline. With Arnott, who has managed five points in his seven games with Washington, the Capitals are a perfect 7-0 and have reclaimed the Southeast Division lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As Vogel notes, Arnott has been a difference-maker for the Capitals both on and off the ice since his arrival – exactly as the school of thought that saw him as an ideal addition for this club had predicted. Without Arnott’s presence, closing out the division over Tampa Bay, who shrunk the gap to just three points with a win in Toronto last night, becomes that much more difficult. Both the Caps and the Lightning have 12 games remaining on the schedule.

Buffering the loss of Arnott somewhat are the potential returns from injury of another key trio: defenseman Tom Poti, forward Nicklas Backstrom and goaltender Semyon Varlamov, all of whom have made the trip to Montreal with the team.

So, what of it then, fans: How much does the loss of Arnott hurt Washington’s chances? And who takes the Southeast crown?

JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack: 3/15/11

Changing the name of this weekly installment one last time, more than anything, to reflect exactly what it is: A stats pack. Ergo, I think Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack will work just fine from now on.

Let’s get to last week’s results:

Click for individual box scores

Tuesday, 3/8/11: Charlotte Checkers 2, Binghamton Senators 1
Charlotte goal-scorers: Zac Dalpe (19), Jon Matsumoto (17)
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Justin Pogge (38/39)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Justin Pogge, CHA; 2 – Jon Matsumoto, CHA; 3 – Ryan Keller, BNG

Tuesday, 3/8/11: Portland Pirates 3, Hershey Bears 2 (SO)
Hershey goal-scorers: Mathieu Perreault (10), Patrick McNeill (4)
Hershey goaltenders (saves/shots): Nolan Schaefer (28/30)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Corey Tropp, POR; 2 – David Leggio, POR; 3 – Nolan Schaefer, HER

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Filed in: AHL Hockey, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

This and That: On Three-Point Games, Tampa’s Slide, Players on Twitter, Devils, Isles and More

My latest collection of thoughts and opinion on recent events in the hockey world (tied together, of course, by less-than-nothing). In short, a little of this, a little of that and maybe even some of the other…

Three-Pointers Risk Diminished Integrity of the Standings
As the NHL GMs meet this week in Boca Raton, much of their agenda will focus on player safety – and rightfully so. Headshots, blindside hits and concussions will dominate their discussions.

But something not on the agenda this week that has been eating at the integrity of the standings in each conference since the lockout is the existence of the “loser point” in the all-too common three-point game – and, frankly, it’s beyond time to reconsider the way team standings are configured once again.

I won’t go railroading against the shootout again today. There seems no point in that anymore anyway, as it is here to stay, the way I understand things. The more valid argument instead is far simpler: The return of two points – and only two – on the line for each and every regular season game. The way things are now, which essentially rewards mediocrity and runs the risk of skewing the standings in such a way that deserving teams might be penalized through no fault of their own, is unacceptable.

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Filed in: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Southeast Tonight: Races for First, Playoffs Continue (And One Last Thought on Chara/Pacioretty)

Hurricanes at Capitals
Washington’s lead over Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division remains at two points as the Caps host another division rival in the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, looking for their seventh straight victory.

A 5-0 blanking of the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday gave Washington their sixth win in a row and ninth in their last 11 games. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who starred in relief against Tampa Bay on Monday, earned his first career shutout against Edmonton with a 22-save performance.

With Semyon Varlamov on the mend, Michael Neuvirth steady in his place and Holtby shining of late, as The Washington Post’s Gene Wang writes, the Caps will have some tough choices ahead, in terms of who will start in goal on a nightly basis.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Southeast Tonight: A Trio of Games on Tap (and Brief Thoughts on Chara/Pacioretty)

Three Southeast tilts on tap for this evening, all with playoff implications. The Thrashers and Hurricanes, each still aiming for a post-season berth, square off against each other in Raleigh, while the Capitals and Lightning, fresh off head-to-head battle of their own on Monday night that culminated in a 2-1 shootout win and a two-point lead in the division for Washington, each host Western Conference opponents this evening in Edmonton and Chicago, respectively.

Thrashers at Hurricanes
Atlanta bested Florida in overtime on Saturday but had dropped seven of eight and 16 of 19 overall prior to that, leaving them seven points behind the playoff cut line, presently, with 16 games to go. With Carolina a point behind eighth place Buffalo, tonight’s game is crucial for any late-season playoff rally for the Thrashers.

The Blackhawks dropped the Hurricanes in Chicago on Friday in a 5-2 final, putting an end to Carolina’s mini two-game win streak and paving the way for the Sabres to take advantage of some games in hand and overtake the ‘Canes in race for the East’s final playoff spot. Carolina and Buffalo still meet twice more down the stretch but the Hurricanes would be doing themselves a huge service in shutting down any Atlanta push from behind before it really starts.

With this game and another remaining to close out the season series, Carolina is 4-0-0 against Atlanta this season, with just one of those victories coming in regulation.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

AHL Announces Clear Day Rosters: Southeast AHL Affiliate Lists Here

American Hockey League teams were required to submit their Clear Day lists as of yesterday, designating a maximum of 22 players that are eligible to compete in the rest of the AHL regular season as well as the upcoming Calder Cup Playoffs (unless emergency situations occur, such as NHL recalls, injuries or suspensions).

Junior players and players on amateur tryout contracts can still be added once their junior or college season has been completed.

The complete set of Clear Day lists can be found here.

Here are this year’s Clear Day lists for the five Southeast Division AHL affiliates:

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Filed in: AHL Hockey, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Quick Thoughts: Tough Break for Tampa Bay Extends Losing Streak to Four

A few quick thoughts today on last night’s huge Southeast Division matchup here in Tampa that ended with a 2-1 shootout win for the Washington Capitals.

First, it’s pretty clear now that Vincent Lecavalier’s disallowed goal early in the third period should have counted. In the video below, Martin St. Louis doesn’t appear to ever make direct contact with Washington goaltender Braden Holtby and was probably tripped to begin with:

But let’s get past that because it was a split-second decision on the part of referee Tom Kowal and mistakes happen. The Lightning would be better served bemoaning their failure to extend the lead to 2-0 at any other time in the game because they certainly had the chances to do so and there’s no sense complaining about something completely out of their control, cheated as they may feel.

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Filed in: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Southeast AHL Affiliate Update: 3/7/11

Skipped our AHL stats pack update last week on account of trade deadline madness and my distinct inability to catch up. Ah, well… Onward and upward.

To get us as up-to-date as possible, we’ll take it back to last Monday and account for everything on the AHL slate for the Southeast affiliates through yesterday.

Click for individual box scores

Tuesday, 3/1/11: Peoria Rivermen 6, Chicago Wolves 5 (OT)
Chicago goal-scorers: Darren Haydar (23), Andre Deveaux (18), Kip Brennan (1), Arturs Kulda (3), Noah Welch (2)
Chicago goaltenders (saves/shots): Chris Carrozzi (21/27)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Ian Cole, PEO; 2 – Mark Cundari, PEO; 3 – Brett Sonne, PEO

Wednesday, 3/2/11: Norfolk Admirals 6, Hershey Bears 1
Norfolk goal-scorers: Mattias Ritola 2 (2), Blair Jones 2 (20), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (18), Chris Durno (15)
Hershey goal-scorers: Steve Pinizzotto (16)
Norfolk goaltenders (saves/shots): Dustin Tokarski (28/29)
Hershey goaltenders (saves/shots): Jared DeMichiel (19/24), Shane Owen (9/10)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Blair Jones, NOR; 2 – Marc-Antoine Pouliot, NOR; 3 – Mattias Ritola, NOR

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Filed in: AHL Hockey, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

Tampa’s Pushed All Year, Now Washington Has Their Chance to Push Back

In an early evening engagement with the host Florida Panthers later today, the Washington Capitals have a chance to take over first place in the Southeast Division for the first time in the calendar year of 2011.

Amazing, really, considering the countless “What’s wrong with Washington?” stories that have been written this season, coupled with about as many accounts of how surprisingly powerful the Tampa Bay Lightning have been from the start.

After all, weren’t the Caps supposed to have packed it in by now?

Weren’t they supposed to have conceded that their window of opportunity with this group of players and this particular head coach has closed?

Weren’t we all supposed to have accepted that this supremely talented bunch just didn’t have that “it” that any team aspiring for significant achievement is supposed to have?

So much for foregone conclusions.

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Filed in: Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink

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