Kukla's Korner

Category: Atlanta-Thrashers

Draft Weekend Brings Hope and Help, Turning One Season Into the Next

The NHL Entry Draft is one of those annual “hope springs eternal” events. If the awards show bids farewell to a season gone by, the selection process for the latest prospect crop marks the league’s transition into next year.

Just like that, every club starts anew.

Just like that, the page is turned for all.

The Boston Bruins reign as Stanley Cup champions has just begun and yet, as of tonight, even they have work to do. 29 other teams are now gunning for what they have. And for some, reshaping their franchises to make a run at hockey’s iconic chalice will start with their first overall selection tonight.

Of course, it’s been said that there aren’t any immediate game-changers to be had among this crop – and certainly not beyond a half-dozen or so prospects atop most draft boards. But the draft itself has become such an integral aspect of building a championship-caliber team, even the late round selections will be a product of weeks and months of internal debate and study on the part of a team’s decision-making hierarchy.

For other clubs, the leap from 2010-11 to 2011-12 will be aided during draft weekend by trade. This year, with the Philadelphia Flyers kicking things off with a pair of earth-rattlers a day in advance, shipping key components Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out of town in separate deals yesterday, the expectation is that trade activity in St. Paul could be high. As teams gear up for free agency next week, some will look to get a jump on crazy season by filling holes and altering their salary scales with a deal or two and there is a wealth of big-name talent reportedly on the trade market already.

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Filed in: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL Entry Draft, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

The Bear’s Been Poked: How Will Boston Respond? (Plus, Thoughts on Potential Relocation for Atlanta)

With a convincing 5-2 game one victory, the Tampa Bay Lightning took the early edge in the Eastern Conference Final over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

The Bolts outscored, outhustled, outcoached and just about outeverythinged the Bs in their own barn in the series opener, swinging things in their favor early, welcoming the latest wave of converted non-believers to the bandwagon and inching, albeit slightly, ever closer to playing for the Stanley Cup.

But everyone in Tampa’s camp will have tossed that aside in approaching game two, recognizing (as they have all season) that their success in game one was just one game and further buying into head coach Guy Boucher’s belief that the playoffs are about desperation and not momentum.

So, after putting the home team in a 1-0 series hole and visibly frustrating Boston in doing so, the Lightning will have to find a way tonight to match the desperation level of what should be the more desperate team. Though they have done it before (against Montreal in round one), the Bruins do not want to face the arduous task of battling back from a 2-0 deficit. Not against a relentless Tampa Bay squad that will then smell familiar blood, fresh off a semifinal sweep of the Washington Capitals.

Thus, as the Lightning do, expect Boston to come out storming.

After all, the Bolts poked the bear, as they say (or, in this case, the bears). And you’re not supposed to do that, so we’re told.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack: 4/11/11

One final update from AHL regular season action before our weekly stats pack-style showcase of the NHL’s Southeast Division affiliates gets a bit more detailed, focusing on playoff action for the three clubs that qualified for Calder Cup contention, Charlotte, Hershey and Norfolk.

Until then, however, one last look at the week gone by:

GAME RESULTS
Click for individual box scores

Monday, 4/4/11: Adirondack Phantoms 6, Rochester Americans 0
Rochester goal-scorers: none
Rochester goaltenders (saves/shots): Marc Cheverie (29/35)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Denis Hamel, ADK; 2 – Michael Leighton, ADK; 3 – Matt Read, ADK

Monday, 4/4/11: Norfolk Admirals 5, Charlotte Checkers 2
Norfolk goal-scorers: Mattias Ritola 2 (7), Pierre-Cedric Labrie (6), Blair Jones 2 (23)
Charlotte goal-scorers: Chris Terry (33), Bobby Sanguinetti (3)
Norfolk goaltenders (saves/shots): Jaroslav Janus (24/26)
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Justin Pogge (21/26), Bobby Goepfert (10/10)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Blair Jones, NOR; 2 – Mattias Ritola, NOR; 3 – Marc-Antoine Pouliot, 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
 

Bolts, Caps Will Aim for Stanley, While ‘Canes, Cats and Thrash Hit the Links

For a time, it looked like four teams from the Southeast Division would at least have a fighting chance at a playoff spot. As late as the end of January, while Tampa Bay and Washington remained comfortably among the top half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff-bound teams, both the Atlanta Thrashers and Carolina Hurricanes teeter-tottered in and around eighth place, making a quartet of Southeast clubs fighting to advance through the Stanley Cup playoffs a distinct possibility.

Alas, Atlanta was in freefall mode soon enough, winning just twice in the entire month of February, the Florida Panthers never contended, despite having a better showing this year than many expected, and Carolina’s impressive fight for the eighth and final playoff spot fell just short yesterday, though the final round of that battle last night left much to be desired, losing to Tampa Bay 6-2 at home in a win-and-in setting.

So, it will be the Capitals and the Lightning only representing the Southeast in the NHL postseason, which is about what most pundits put forth in preseason predictions. Flip-flop Atlanta and Carolina in the Southeast’s final standings, and the actual finish is exactly what I’d expected, though I won’t boast that as a feat deserving any sort of special recognition. By and large, the end result in these here parts was an easy call.

That being said, there were some twists and turns and surprises along the way.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

‘Canes Still Alive (Here’s How They Get In) Plus, Bolts Players in Cut for a Cure & JJ’s “Beard-Off”

Now, it gets fun.

The hockey world thanks you, Carolina Hurricanes, for being one of the scrappiest damn teams in this league. Had you listened to the odds at any point during your playoff chase, you’d have bowed out, oh, eleven times or so by now.

With almost zero wiggle room, and in a home stretch that has them finishing their season on Friday and Saturday with their seventh set (seventh!) of back-to-back games since March 3rd, Carolina has managed a 9-5-2 record in that span to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

After last night’s gutty 3-0 shutout of the visiting Detroit Red Wings (you know, those perennial Western Conference doormats?), the ‘Canes live to fight another day or, at least two, to get all technical about it.

But until they hit Atlanta to tackle the Thrashers on Friday, nothing at all is in their hands and, even then, their fate is not totally their own to decide.

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Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack: 4/4/11

The AHL’s regular season wraps up this coming weekend and the affiliates of the NHL’s Southeast Division teams should be well-represented when all is said and done.

The Hershey Bears and Charlotte Checkers have already clinched playoff berths and the Norfolk Admirals are on the doorstep, with five games left on the schedule and a magic number of three over Worcester. In the West, the Chicago Wolves are in a battle for a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs by way of the crossover rule, currently four points over the North Division’s Abbotsford Heat but trailing division rival Oklahoma City by a single point. Chicago and Oklahoma City each have three games remaining to Abbotsford’s five.

Only the Rochester Americans are sure to miss the AHL postseason this year, last in the North and well out of playoff contention.

With postseason berths at stake, the upcoming week is full of crucial games and once the playoff seeds are set, the focus of this weekly update will shift that way and include some more detailed recaps. Until then, let’s have a look back at the week gone by:

GAME RESULTS
Click for individual box scores

Tuesday, 3/29/11: Manitoba Moose 3, Rochester Americans 2
Rochester goal-scorers: Eric Selleck (3), Bill Thomas (14)
Rochester goaltenders (saves/shots): Marc Cheverie (43/46)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Bill Sweatt, MTB; 2 – Marc Cheverie, RCH; 3 – Jason Jaffray, MTB

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

Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack: 3/28/11

Hershey’s clinched in the East Division and both Charlotte and Norfolk are getting awful close. Chicago’s in a dogfight in the West (with an added lift from the crossover rule), while Rochester is left to play for pride. Amid some serious playoff race action, here is your weekly stats pack-style glimpse at the week gone by for the AHL affiliates of the NHL’s Southeast Division clubs:

GAME RESULTS
Click for individual box scores

Tuesday, 3/22/11: Charlotte Checkers 5, Adirondack Phantoms 2
Charlotte goal-scorers: Mike McKenzie (1), Chris Terry (29), Zach Boychuk 2 (19), Jacob Micflikier (24)
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Justin Pogge (17/19)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Zach Boychuk, CHA; 2 – Michal Jordan, CHA; 3 – Jacob Micflikier, CHA

Tuesday, 3/22/11: Lake Erie Monsters 2, Rochester Americans 1
Rochester goal-scorers: Kenndal McArdle (14)
Rochester goaltenders (saves/shots): Marc Cheverie (31/33)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Travis Gawryletz, LE; 2 – Shawn Belle, LE; 3 – Kenndal McArdle, RCH

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

Caps in, Bolts Close… And the Rest of the Southeast Division Playoff Picture

Less than two weeks remain on the regular season schedule as of today and, for the teams of the NHL’s Southeast Division, the post-season picture is beginning to clear up.

First thing’s first: The Florida Panthers have missed the playoffs for a tenth consecutive campaign. Nevertheless, the Cats from Sunrise appear to be on track for marked improvement in the coming years with a solid nucleus in place and a wealth of young talent coming up the pike.

At the opposite end of the division standings are the Washington Capitals, seeded second in the conference presently, just two points in back of the Philadelphia Flyers for first overall, with Philly holding a game in hand over Washington. The Caps lead the Tampa Bay Lightning by seven points with six games left to play, with the Bolts possessing a game in hand on Washington as well.

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

Southeast AHL Affiliate Stats Pack: 3/22/11

Another week, another look at the Southeast Division’s AHL affiliates…

Let’s get right to last week’s results:

GAME RESULTS
Click for individual box scores

Wednesday, 3/16/11: Charlotte Checkers 2, Bridgeport Sound Tigers 1 (SO)
Charlotte goal-scorers: Chris Terry (26)
Charlotte goaltenders (saves/shots): Mike Murphy (30/31)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Chris Terry, CHA; 2 – Joel Martin, BRI; 3 – Mike Murphy, CHA

Wednesday, 3/16/11: Hamilton Bulldogs 2, Rochester Americans 0
Rochester goal-scorers: none
Rochester goaltenders (saves/shots): Tyler Plante (23/24)
Three stars of the game: 1 – Andrew Conboy, HAM; 2 – Tyler Plante, RCH; 3 – Drew MacIntyre, HAM

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Filed in: AHL Hockey, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, 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:

GAME 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
 

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