Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,
Boy, the NHL sure had us there for a while. During the first two weeks of the season, players were filling the nets like it was the Bill Clinton administration. The first three nights of this season, there was an 11-goal game, a 10-goal game, three nine-goal games and two eight-goal games. Rookie Auston Matthews turned in a record on the first night of the season by scoring four goals in his NHL debut and his team still lost the game.
Good times. Yup, good times. And like all good times, it inevitably had to come to an end. Because NHL. The orgy of scoring we saw early in the season has been replaced with what seems like a record number of loop passes from the defensive zone. And why are defensemen doing this at such a regular pace? Because trying to get the puck through the neutral zone along the ice is almost impossible.
Through the first 356 games of this season, NHL teams have scored a total of 1,880 goals. Those are real goals. The phony ones teams are awarded for winning the NHL’s skills competition are not included. That means teams are scoring at an average of 5.28 goals per game this season, which if it sticks, will mean scoring is at its lowest in the NHL since The Dead Puck Era™.
from the CP at Sportsnet,
The NHL Players’ Association has formally rejected the league’s proposal to allow players to participate in the 2018 Olympics in exchange for an extension to the current collective bargaining agreement.
NHLPA executive director Don Fehr says that the players, primarily the executive board, showed no interest in the idea.
He says he hopes “we’ll still be able to conclude an agreement to go to the Olympics.”
Fehr tells The Canadian Press in an exclusive interview that “we still think it’s (playing in 2018) important and we’ll go from there.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler had heard all the stories and scouting reports last offseason about his team's new phenom from Finland, who could shoot a puck from everywhere and score at will.
Watching it firsthand, well, that's a whole other thing.
"It's pretty incredible," Wheeler told ESPN.com this week. That phenom -- 18-year-old forward Patrik Laine -- has 15 goals in his first 26 games.
"When we got the pick, everyone was excited at the prospect of having Patty," Wheeler said. "You heard all the stories about his shot and the dynamic things he could do. That's all well and good, but he's 18. You expect there to be a learning curve, you expect to be some speed bumps along the way.
"All of a sudden, he's leading the NHL in goals, and it's not by mistake. It's crazy. He gets the puck in areas [where] you don't really feel like [he has] a scoring chance. All of sudden, it's in the back of the net. You just kind of shake your head.''...
Laine is on pace for 47 goals. He has already had two hat tricks and, yes, he's earned a few nicknames already.
"That was the big thing: 'What do people call him?'" said Wheeler, 30, chuckling. "He started with 'Patty,' and then he got more comfortable and revealed that all his buddies back home call him 'Patsyuk,' obviously after Pavel Datsyuk.
from Craig Custance of the PHWA,
Like he has so many times before in his copy, one line from Cam Cole left our jaws dropped.
“Since someone spilled the beans: My last day at Postmedia is Dec. 16. Man, 41 years went fast,” Cam announced on Twitter.
With that, the tributes poured in.
Cam Cole is the guy every sports fan wants to read. He’s the guy every sports writer wants to be. He can outshoot you on the golf course and then outdrink you at the bar. And that’s after writing the 2,500 words everybody will be talking about at the rink the next morning. He’s got a great family too.
Actually, we should hate this guy.
But we don’t. We love Cam Cole.
If Bob McKenzie is the Godfather, Cam Cole is The Legend. That he’s leaving Postmedia on his own terms only adds to that legend.
Have a beer tonight for Cam. Then have ten more for the rest of us who aren't sure when we'll get to read Cam Cole again.
It was 41 years of excellence. What a run.
continue for the tributes...
from Peter Goffin of the Toronto Star,
Leaf fans threw the NHL in the penalty box after learning the league’s online store couldn’t ship custom Centennial Classic jerseys to Canada.
Leafs fan Chris Gumbert said he tried to order himself a Mitch Marner Centennial sweater from a page on shop.nhl.com billed as the Toronto team’s “official shop.”
After entering his Hamilton, Ont., mailing address, Gumbert was confronted with an error message telling him his order “contains manufacturer direct items that cannot be shipped to addresses outside of the continental United States.”
NHL customer service representatives confirmed to the Star that the jersey, which will be worn by the Leafs when they take on the Detroit Red Wings in a Jan. 1 outdoor game at BMO Field, could not be mailed to Canada.
from Jimmy Hascup of USA TODAY,
Almost two months into the NHL season, five points separate the Eastern Conference's worst team from a wild card spot, and six points separate the West's worst from a playoff position. There is a seven-point difference between the East's best team and the second wild card, while 10 points separate those teams in the West.
Which in many words says one thing (aside from there's a lot of hockey left to be played): There's a lot of parity (or mediocrity, if that's how you want to view it) in the NHL, and It's unclear if there are any great teams.
Do the Chicago Blackhawks, leading the league with 35 points, stand out as a fierce contender? Credit to them: They have survived with a 30th-ranked penalty kill and an injury to Jonathan Toews, who has struggled with 12 points in 25 games. But they are a top-heavy team, with their stars required to do the heavy lifting....
Then there’s the Montreal Canadiens, who at 16-5-2 are second in the league with 34 points. The Canadiens are an improved team over last season, thanks to Carey Price’s health. But a surefire Cup contender now?
“I know my role now has changed from when I first game in, but it's a different game too. The game has changed with blocking shots over the years. You're not getting the same looks that you used to. Plus, on this team, Karlsson is the big guy for us offensively on the backend and I've got to do my job defensively.
“That's what makes teams good and that's what makes teams competitive. Everyone has a job and everyone has to do their job. I still think I have an offensive side to my game, but I'm asked to do more on the defensive side and I enjoy that role.”
-Dion Phaneuf of the Ottawa Senators. Darren Dreger of the Dreger Report has more on Phaneuf.
“I have faith in them, but to me, the start is not a core thing; it’s a team thing. I think you see we’re trying to hold people accountable. We know we have certain guys who can give more, and those guys know they can give more, but it’s not like it’s a whole thing. We’re not as consistent as we need to be. We didn’t win two straight Cups and have that leeway. We have to play with that urgency every night on a consistent basis to be successful.”
-Joe Sakic, GM of the Colorado Avalanche on his core players and team. More on the Avalanche from Terry Frei of the Denver Post.
Home Team in Caps
BOSTON 2, Carolina 1 (SO)
BUFFALO 4, NY Rangers 3
PITTSBURGH 6, Dallas 2
NY Islanders 3, WASHINGTON 0
Philadelphia 3, OTTAWA 2 (OT)
Florida 2, DETROIT 1 (OT)
ST. LOUIS 5, Tampa Bay 4
Edmonton 6, WINNIPEG 3
CHICAGO 4, New Jersey 3 (OT)
Columbus 3, COLORADO 2
Los Angeles 4, ARIZONA 3
Anaheim 3, VANCOUVER 1
TARASENKO (HAT TRICK) LEADS BLUES TO SIXTH STRAIGHT HOME WIN
Vladimir Tarasenko (3-1—4) scored the third hat trick of his NHL career and equaled a career high with four points to help the Blues extend their home point streak to 11 games (9-0-2), including six straight wins.
* Tarasenko has earned at least one point in 11 of his last 13 games (9-9—18) and ranks third in League scoring with 13-14—27 this season (24 GP).
* Jake Allen (22 saves) picked up his career-high seventh consecutive victory, posting a 2.24 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in those contests.
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