Kukla's Korner

Category: Florida-Panthers

Catching Up on What’s Happened (and What Hasn’t) for the Bolts This Summer

It’s been a full week since last I posted and I am pleased to report that four of those seven days were planned away time spent in South Florida doing whatever it is that resembles relaxation for the parents of young children. (I think I slept less than I normally do, in all honesty, but the kids had a nice little adventure and that’s what it’s all about.)

Now, these other three days in absentia I can chalk up to the joys of real estate transactions and I suppose a little patience on my end (and yours, perhaps) is in order, as we’re only in the very beginning stages of this endeavor.

Anyway, while I was sunning it up down Panther way, the new regime at the helm of the NHL’s residents in Sunrise were busy overhauling their roster for the upcoming season, hauling in a slew of players from the free agent waters and getting involved in their second significant trade of the off-season already as well. (They did not offer me a contract, for those wondering about my real intentions… I mean, what hockey writer – at any level – would plan a family vacation that started in the evening of the very first day of free agency without an ulterior motive?)

During my time in enemy territory, as the gracious host city saw its team spare no expense in attempting to improve their on-ice fortunes (or at least meet the salary cap floor, that is), back home here in Tampa, the Lightning were getting busy on plugging some holes in their roster too. Though the big story of the summer has yet to see its final chapter written, as in a new contract for superstar forward Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman and company have been involved in the NHL’s annual silly season sparingly, with a refreshing measure of sensibility, as compared to the overspending of so many. Sure, they met with representatives for former Bolt Brad Richards – it was a given that they’d at least inquire – but with the dollar number and term that he eventually signed for with the New York Rangers, that was every bit the pipe dream from the start as I’d pegged it to be. That aside, the small ripples the Lightning have made this summer have an aim at bigger splashes down the road, in terms of eventual impact, quality and, most of all, value.

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Filed in: Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

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
 

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
 

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
 

This and That: On St. Pat’s, Fadden Release, Vinny’s Resurgence, Playoff Odds, DP’s Return and More

A happy St. Patrick’s Day to the readers out there from yours truly! May you all be blessed with a plentiful helping of corned beef and cabbage, a pint or three of Guinness and, hell, a nip of Jameson for those of you feeling a wee bit adventurous! And, for the love of your favorite Irishman (or woman), please do avoid green beer at all costs. Dye the local pond, river or stream, if you must, but beer, my friends, should never be green!

A smorgasbord of news items and thoughts on each, in turn, for this fine Thursday afoot:

Farewell, Young Mr. Fadden
The troubling tenure of forward Mitch Fadden as a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect ends today upon his clearing unconditional release waivers and the termination of his contract. According to a report in the Salmon Arm Observer, Fadden, 22, was arrested in Salmon Arm earlier this month on charges of impaired driving, failing to provide a breath sample, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and obstructing a peace officer. All of this, according to the report, after police observed Fadden to be “grossly intoxicated” at – wait for it – 12:57 PM and that he became “violent with officers” upon apprehension.

Yikes. Hope it was a good party.

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Filed in: Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, | 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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