Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
There are days, David Clarkson said, where he plays with his three young kids or skates with a local high school team, and his back gives him a glimmer of hope that an NHL comeback is possible.
But then there are days — like the one just three weeks ago — when the 32-year-old feels so far away from pulling a Blue Jackets jersey over his head.
"I literally couldn't get out of bed," Clarkson said. "I couldn't move. My wife had to call the docs and I laid there and waited for the muscle relaxers to kick in before I could start the day."
Clarkson hasn't been heard from or seen in the Blue Jackets dressing room since late last season. He showed up quietly a week before training camp in September, asked to take a physical he knew he'd fail, and then got out of the way when the Blue Jackets' healthy players arrived.
In a nearly one-hour sit-down with The Dispatch, Clarkson's eyes welled more than a few times on both ends of the emotional spectrum.
via Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Maybe frustrated because Koivu dominated him in the circle tonight (Vermette, usually superb, was 6 for 17, Koivu was 20 for 26; not all against each other), Vermette chopped Alphonso in the back of the leg after he dropped the puck awkwardly, then snapped at him.
He was ejected for physical abuse of officials. Depending on the category filed after the game – we should find out Wednesday, and supervisor and former zebra Rob Shick was here to sort it out – Vermette faces a suspension of three, 10 or 20 games, pending appeal.
Big no-no, and love tap or not, it can’t be done and it’s clear as day on video that he reacted angrily after the faceoff loss. The irony is Vermette takes draws from the Paul Gaustad school of faceoff taking -- all game, dropping to his knees after draws. It's absurd, and I've maintained for years the league needs to get rid of this tactic.
Home Team in Caps
NEW JERSEY 3, Colorado 2
PITTSBURGH 4, Vancouver 0
TORONTO 7, NY Islanders 1
Buffalo 3, OTTAWA 2
Anaheim 1, MINNESOTA 0
WINNIPEG 5, Dallas 2
EDMONTON 5, Arizona 2
MURRAY JOINS ELITE COMPANY AS PENGUINS CLIMB METROPOLITAN
Four different skaters scored and Matt Murray turned aside all 29 shots he faced as the Penguins extended their point streak to seven games (5-0-2).
* The Penguins (35-13-7, 77 points) moved into sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division, seven points back of the League-leading Capitals (39-11-6, 84 points). Pittsburgh holds a game in hand.
* Murray picked up his third shutout of the season (fourth career) and improved to 30-8-3 in 44 career regular-season appearances (2.19 GAA, .927 SV%, 4 SO). Elias notes that Murray required the fourth-fewest appearances (tied) in NHL history to reach 30 career wins:
Fewest appearances to 30 career wins, NHL history
40 – Frank Brimsek (BOS) on March 9, 1939
41 – Bill Durnan (MTL) on Feb. 26, 1944
43 – Ross Brooks (BOS) on Dec. 8, 1974
44 – Pete Peeters (PHI) on April 3, 1980
44 – Matt Murray (PIT) on Feb. 14, 2017
By Tim Dolan,
Being a part of the playoff push in Brooklyn won’t be taxing on the wallet this Thursday. The Islanders set to take on the crosstown Rangers in the second and final meeting in Brooklyn this season, and it will be the cheapest matchup at the Barclays Center yet.
Yes it was.
MONTREAL (February 14, 2017) - Montreal Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin announced Tuesday the appointment of Claude Julien as the Club's new head coach. Michel Therrien has been relieved of his duties.
"I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track," said Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
The NHL’s current postseason system – which dates back to realignment back in 2013-14 – guarantees playoff berths to three teams per division, with two wild-card teams. The weaker wild-card team plays the divisional winner with the strongest record; the stronger wild-card team plays the divisional winner with the weakest record.
What this has done, more than anything, is create inefficiencies for the league. Think about the criteria that’s sorting this stuff out right now.
First, there’s a conference split – despite the fact there are 16 teams in one conference, and 14 (15 when Vegas begins play next season) in the other. Then there’s the fact that divisional winners are guaranteed home ice, despite the very real possibility of those four teams not being the four best teams in the league. Add in other restrictions – you can’t have more than five teams from a division make the playoffs, as one example – and you have a system that’s frustrating if you believe that the postseason should be designed to bring forward best-versus-best scenarios.
I would argue that the NHL’s current playoff format only works when you have a perfect or near-perfect conference balance, and perfect or near-perfect divisional balance. Guess what? That hasn’t happened yet. We are headed for the same issues in 2016-17.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- During Saturday’s Headlines, Nick Kypreos brought up the possibility of Pittsburgh getting Duchene. Prior to that, Rutherford shrugged off the idea the club could not add anyone with term. “I’ll do anything to win,” he said Friday. “If we have to fix our cap situation, we can do it after the season.”
I could see Gabriel Landeskog being a fit here, too. The organization does have Trevor Daley, Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz — all of whom make at least $3.3 million — coming off the books in the next two summers. Nick mentioned Derrick Pouliot as bait for a Colorado trade, but if this does happen, a more likely suspect would be Olli Maatta. Rutherford added it is his “preference to keep Marc-Andre Fleury as insurance for Matt Murray. But I recognize he wants to play.”
- It’ll be interesting to see what kind of interest comes GM Tim Murray’s way for Dmitry Kulikov. The defenceman has had a nightmare year since suffering a back injury when pushed into an open bench door during the pre-season.
“I’ve never been through anything like this,” Kulikov said last weekend. “But I really don’t want to talk much about it.” Are you healthy now? “Yes,” he answered, although coach Dan Bylsma says Kulikov won’t practice every day. He’s also a free agent, but teams don’t really have a handle on where his game is.
- Another UFA to watch is Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle. You can see why playoff teams would be interested. Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli went to see him in Minnesota last Friday. Columbus and Toronto are believed to be among other potential suitors. (The Maple Leafs tried to sign him as a free agent in 2014, although it was a different regime.)
Some tweeters were surprised I said during a radio interview he may fetch a first-rounder in return. It comes down to how much of a demand there is, but teams are not married to those picks in 2017. If one executive ever hears me getting wishy-washy on the topic, he texts a reminder: “How many times do I have to tell you that teams are going to trade their firsts? This draft is terrible!” I hope someone does so he stops yelling at me.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
In the midst of a second period in which the Flames fell behind 4-0 to the second-worst team in hockey, Johnny Gaudreau found himself on Matt Stajan’s checking line with Grindin’ Garnet Hathaway.
When asked what the Flames former leading scorer did to earn the punishment coach Glen Gultzan was short.
“He turned the puck over in the neutral zone there,” said Gulutzan, clearly unhappy with no. 13’s play.
“We’re trying to play direct when it was 1-0.”
With word he had a meeting with Gaudreau earlier in the day, Gulutzan was asked if such a turnover was discussed with him.
“We’ve talked to all our guys about playing a certain way.”
Asked if such a move seemed extreme for a play-making forward whose forte is creativity and taking chances, he bristled.
“I don’t think it’s extreme,” he said.
“We need points. It was 1-0.”
Below are the game highlights of Calgary's 5-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes...
Home Team in Caps
NY Rangers 3, COLUMBUS 2
Arizona 5, CALGARY 0
RANGERS CREATE LOG JAM IN TIGHT EASTERN CONFERENCE
Columbus tied the game in the third period, but Jimmy Vesey netted the game-winner just 1:35 later as the Rangers earned their sixth straight victory and improved to 8-1-0 in their last nine road contests.
* New York (37-18-1, 75 points) moved into a tie – in terms of points – with Pittsburgh (34-13-7, 75 points) and Columbus (35-15-5, 75 points) for second place in the Eastern Conference.
* Vesey’s goal was his fourth game-winning goal of the season, tied for second among rookies with Patrik Laine and Mitchell Marner. Only Auston Matthews (6) has more such tallies.
* J.T. Miller earned an assist to extend his point streak to seven games (2-9—11), matching his career-high set earlier this season from Dec. 29 – Jan. 14 (5-5—10 in 7 GP). Miller leads the Rangers with 18-28—46 this season, establishing career highs in both assists and points.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org