Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

Some questions before taking a break

Good evening folks. I hope all you hockey nuts enjoyed the NHL All-Star festivities this weekend. I particularly enjoyed Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin’s rekindled friendship, Alexei Kovalev’s hometown showing and a pretty high scoring All-Star game. Do I think that changes need to be made? I sure do but for now, I wanted to give the NHL a good old pat on the back for their good work this weekend.

I wanted to let you know that I will not be blogging much this weekend because I will be on vacation in Puerto Rico playing some golf. I am returning on February 1 (Super Bowl Sunday) and will get back to blogging on the 2nd. However, feel free to drop me an e-mail at patrickhoffm@gmail.com to let me know what’s going around the league and of course, with the New York Rangers.

However, before I left, I wanted to get your thoughts regarding the league’s second half of the season:

- Which teams will round out the top eight in the Eastern and Western Conferences?
- Which player will score the most points in the second half of the season?
- Which player will have the biggest fall in the second half of the season?
- Which coaches, if any, will get fired?
- Will Pat Quinn be joining the Ottawa Senators at any point?

These are just a few questions that I have regarding the second half of the season and I’m sure that more will emerge as the NHL resumes play this week. Let’s hear your thoughts folks!

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  Tags: alex+ovechkin, alexei+kovalev, evgeni+malkin, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pat+quinn

Pressure?

Talk about pressure. You are the starting goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, a team that has an unbelievable history of producing great netminders such as Georges Vezina, Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley, Ken Dryden and of course, Patrick Roy. This weekend, you are the starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference All-Star team at the Bell Center in Montreal. Not only that, but 16 years ago, Roy was the starting goalie for the Wales Conference at the Montreal Forum and later that same season, won the Stanley Cup.

Do you think that current Canadiens’ and now all-star netminder Carey Price is feeling the pressure? Well, if he is, he’s certainly not showing it as the 21-year-old masked man is having a fine season for Les Canadiens. In 27 games this season, he has 16 wins, a 2.35 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and one shutout. Not bad for someone who has the ghosts of past Canadien teams looking down at him.

Price also went into the break on somewhat of a role as he won three out of his last four games and in those games has a goals against of 2.00, certainly not a bad way to go into the grueling second half of the season, a half that could determine just how far the Habs will be willing to go come spring time. Again, you think Price has a lot of pressure?!

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  Tags: carey+price, eastern+conference, georges+vezina, gump+worsley, jacques+plante, ken+dryden, montreal+canadiens, patrick+roy, wales+conference

The Good Old Days

I was on my way back from a men’s league game (I’m a goaltender) last night and was listening to NHL Home Ice on XM. Fittingly, they had on a classic All-Star Game.

The game that they replayed was the 1996 All-Star game in Boston and I have to say that that was probably the best All-Star game in the last 13 years. Not only did the hometown hero Raymond Bourque score in the closing minute to give the Eastern Conference a 5-4 victory but it was just good all around hockey in general.

It was a competitive 5-4 game. There weren’t a lot of goals scored so the ones that were ended up being extremely important and that’s what fans like to see in All-Star games.

 

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  Tags: eastern+conference, gary+bettman, nhl+home+ice+on+xm, raymond+bourque

Questions Heading into the All-Star Break

Since the NHL All-Star Break has arrived, I figured that this would be the best time to ask some questions out loud and get your thoughts.

- When will New York Islanders’ goaltender Rick DiPietro ever be healthy?
- Will this finally be the year that the Columbus Blue Jackets make the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
- Why isn’t Alex Ovechkin a starter in the All-Star game?
- With the strong play of New Jersey Devils’ netminder Scott Clemmenson, what happens to Kevin Weekes once Martin Brodeur is healthy?
- Can anyone else believe that Claude Lemieux is once again an NHLer?
- Who’s better: the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins?
- Could we see an original six matchup in the Stanley Cup Finals this spring between the big bad Bruins and the Wings?
- Will this finally be the year that New York Rangers’ star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist gets recognized as the league’s top goaltender by winning the Vezina Trophy?
- Will Sean Avery ever play in the NHL again?
- Will the press ever look at hockey in a positive light?

These are just a few of the many questions that are on my mind right now but I wanted to gauge your thoughts. Leave your comments folks!

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  Tags: nhl+all-star+break+questions

Not Bad

The New York Rangers went into the NHL All-Star break last night with a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

The team got strong performances from Henrik Lundqvist (not a surprise), Scott Gomez (1 goal and 1 assist), Markus Naslund (1 goal and 1 assist), Blair Betts (blocked a few shots and scored a shorthanded goal) as well as from their special teams, as the team scored two power play goals and two shorthanded goals.

With the victory, the Blueshirts head into the break with a 28-16-4 record, good enough for 60 points and the top spot in the Atlantic Division for now. As such, as inconsistent as this team has been, Blueshirt fans really cannot complain too much.

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  Tags: aaron+voros, anaheim+ducks, atlantic+division, blair+betts, henrik+lundqvist, lauri+korpikoski, markus+naslund, new+york+rangers, nikolai+zherdev, petr+prucha, scott+gomez

Quick Hits

Tonight, the New York Rangers take on the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden and will look to take over the top spot in the Atlantic Division as the New Jersey Devils currently sit atop the Atlantic thanks to a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

According to various beat reporter blogs, Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski will be the scratches. Aaron Voros and Dan Fritsche will take their spots in the lineup.

Now, I know that the Ducks are a physical hockey club but I believe that by taking out Prucha and Korpikoski, the team is potentially sacrificing at least three-five scoring opportunities. When your offense isn’t that strong as it is, why would head coach Tom Renney do something like this?

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  Tags: aaron+voros, anaheim+ducks, atlantic+division, dan+fritsche, lauri+korpikoski, madison+square+garden, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, petr+prucha, tom+renney

Look at the Bright Side

Yes, yesterday afternoon’s 3-0 loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly stings but look on the bright side: the New York Rangers picked up points in four of their five road games, including wins against the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and the talented Chicago Blackhawks.

The trip saw Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist return to form, especially his statistics: 23 wins, a 2.54 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts. These numbers certainly show why he is attending this year’s NHL All-Star game in Montreal.

The team’s recent road trip also saw Chris Drury come alive as well as the continued strong play of Ryan Callahan and Nigle Dawes. Hopefully, these three will continue to play well because they are the only ones that are performing consistently on an offensive level in the past couple of weeks.

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, madison+square+garden, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nhl+all-star+game, nigel+dawes, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan

The Captain Gets It Done In Chicago

Every New York Ranger fan knew that tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks was going to be a test for their Blueshirts and the team passed it with flying colors thanks to their captain, Chris Drury, who scored to give the Rangers a 3-2 overtime victory at the sold out United Center.

Many Ranger fans, myself included, were wondering what was wrong with Drury not too long ago. He wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t as sharp defensively and he looked lost. However, in the past two weeks or so, Drury has come alive and in his last six games, has five goals and an assist for six points.

Tonight, both of his goals came on the power play and he scored the way the team should be on their power play all season long: by not being afraid to shoot the puck and go to the net.

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  Tags: atlantic+division, chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, tom+renney

Rangers in Chi-Town

Tonight will be an important test for the New York Rangers as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. The Blackhawks are currently fourth in the Western Conference and sport an impressive home record of 16-4-3.

Back on October 10, the Blueshirts defeated the Blackhawks in their home opener at Madison Square Garden but this is a much different Hawks team than the one that was on the ice three months ago. They have a new coach in Joel Quenneville, are getting scoring across the board from the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Martin Havlat, playing solid defensively and are getting excellent goaltending from both Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet.

“Outside of the skill they were able to exhibit back then, I think they will be pretty different (tonight),” Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney told the team’s web site. “I think there is a level of commitment and discipline to their game now.”

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  Tags: aaron+voros, chicago+blackhawks, cristobal+huet, dan+fritsche, joel+quenneville, jonathan+toews, martin+havlat, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nikolai+khabibulin, patrick+kane, patrick+sharp, tom+renney

We’ll Take It

It certainly wasn’t one of their best games of the season, especially against one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League, but the New York Rangers were able to come away with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders thanks to the play of Henrik Lundqvist and a rather successful power play.

Lundqvist appears to be returning to form as he posted his third solid performance in a week by making 33 saves en route to his 22nd victory of the season. He was especially good in the first two periods, stopping 24 of 25 shots and enabling his club to hold onto a 2-1 lead going into the third period, a lead that they would not relinquish.

“We knew we would create some chances against them, and it finally paid off in the second period, and then we locked it down the rest of the way,” Lundqvist told the team’s web site. “It was a great effort, and we are definitely on the right track here.”

 

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, chris+drury, henrik+lundqvist, national+hockey+league, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, nigel+dawes, tom+renney

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About Goal Line Report

Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.

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