Kukla's Korner Hockey
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from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
You have to wonder if this is the knockout punch we've been waiting for the Winnipeg Jets to absorb. For two games in a row, the Jets haven't been able to push late ties into overtime and secure crucial points.
On Sunday, they gave up a last-minute goal to Jonathan Toews and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, and two nights later it was a repeat performance in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers. We've counted the Jets out before, but with Winnipeg, the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings fighting for both third place in the Pacific Division and the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference, it's about taking advantage of the opportunities that are given.
Sure, it looks bad for the Jets, but they're still up two points. They're the ones in a playoff spot. The Kings have a game in hand and own the tiebreaker thanks to more regulation/overtime wins, and Tuesday's was a game the Jets had to win. Hard not to look at next Thursday's game in Calgary between the Kings and Flames, and the Flames' season finale two days later in Winnipeg as two that will ultimately crystallize the playoff picture in the West, the Jets' disappointing meltdowns not withstanding.
And let's tip our caps to the Vancouver Canucks, who have won consecutive road games over the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators to strengthen their hold on second place in the Pacific.
continue for Custance on the Byfuglien hit, Strang on Drew Miller, LeBrun on the Senators and Joe McDonald on the Bruins. Also check out the new-look ESPN.
from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“There are going to be some dynamite teams in our conference that don’t get in (the playoffs). A lot of it is based on the players’ ability to buy what the coaching staff is selling. We’ve accomplished that while transforming the team,” he said. “But what’s invigorated me is coaching a different group of guys. There have been four or five changes and we’ve still had a high level of success. I think the staff and players buying in is what drives me to coach a lot longer. I really want to do that.”
Still, by leaving his future open for question this season, it’s fair to wonder if the organization holds to its September position that the job is his as long as Hitchcock desires it.
Four years is an eternity in the NHL. The Blues have advanced past the first round only once under Hitchcock and have yet to win a second-round game. Forward T.J. Oshie cited information overload after Monday’s unsightly loss to Vancouver. Hitchcock assumes assurances offered in September remain in force today. Others in the organization suggest less tolerance for another first-round playoff exit given the previous three years’ 8-13 postseason record.
“There’s always going to be a question for players and coaches until we win a first round. But it’s a question I’m not afraid to answer,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t know the answer right now but this team is built to go long in series, long in games. We’ve won a lot of games late. We’ve been at our best in the second and third periods. We know we can go the distance. Like everyone else I won’t know until it plays out but I’m looking forward to answering the questions.”
via Evan Peaslee of Sportsnet,
Late in the second period Byfuglien cross-checked Rangers forward J.T. Miller in the back of the head. The 30-year-old Byfuglien disguised it as a consequence of falling, but there’s no denying he drilled a completely defenseless player on the ice for no reason.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault certainly didn’t hide his disdain for the play when talking with the media after the game.
"(It was) violent, deliberate, could have broken his neck," said Vigneault. "I don't know what's going to happen, but it was one of the most vicious cross-checks I've seen this year."
According to Sportsnet's John Shannon the play will be given extra attention by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Just under four minutes of highlights...
Watch as Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa delivers a blow to the head of winger Viktor Stalberg from the Nashville Predators.
The TSN Insiders with a few topics today...
Pat LaFontaine, who works for the NHL these days, thinking about having a hockey summit in NYC.
Next up the NHL trophies will not undergo a name change according to Gary Bettman.
The Nashville Predators are trying to get college player Jimmy Vesey to sign with them.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to sign college player Mike Reilly before he gains UFA status.
Next up was compensation talk if an NHL executive leaves for another team.
watch here, not blocked for those outside of Canada...
from Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province,
There’s no other way to put it.
It would be insane for this to happen, but it could.
As first pointed out by the guys over at Jewels From the Crown, there’s a scenario where we find ourselves on the last day of the season and the Jets and Flames find themselves locked in battle, tied…only to stop trying with minutes to play and letting the game get to OT, because both teams earning loser points would mean the Kings get eliminated.
That’s quite the scene. Just imagine, in a season where negative play has become a much-discussed talking point, this would put a whole new twist on the concept of tanking.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Barring an unforeseen development over the next 48 hours, Martin St. Louis should return to the Rangers lineup Thursday night in Minnesota.
St. Louis will have missed eight games after he sits out Tuesday’s match here against the Jets because of the MCL sprain he suffered late in the March 15 Garden match against the Panthers.
“This is the first day I’ve skated with my teammates, and I think for me it’s a nice progression where it’s not the same intensity as a real practice and I can really control my pace a little bit better,” St. Louis said following the morning skate. “I’ve skated four or five times by myself. With a full practice [Wednesday], I think it will allow me to be ready to go on Thursday.”
St. Louis, who resumed skating last Thursday in Ottawa, appeared to skate freely and in full stride as he worked for nearly a half-hour after his teammates had left the ice. He had skated Thursday through Sunday before staying off the ice on Monday’s travel day.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com