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Rivalries Dominate First-Round Matchups and Ticket Prices for Stanley Cup Playoffs

By Nick Tranfaglia of TiqIQ,

In what is sure to be a promising and competitive postseason, the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will feature a few of the league’s most historic rivalries. The Philadelphia Flyers will head north on the New Jersey turnpike to take on the New York Rangers beginning April 17, with the two teams splitting their season series 2-2. The Chicago Blackhawks will look to defend their championship title and continue writing the script to a long-storied rivalry with the St. Louis Blues. The Los Angeles Kings square off against their Northern California foes in the San Jose Sharks, while the Kings took the season series 3-1-1. As one would expect, prices for these matchups are becoming expensive on the secondary market according to TiqIQ.

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It Was A Bad Year In Buffalo

from Mike Harrington of Sabres Edge at the Buffalo News,

The Buffalo Sabres' rebuild starts in earnest tonight with the NHL Draft Lottery in Toronto,  after what General Manager Tim Murray admitted was an "unacceptable" last-place season.

Murray and coach Ted Nolan met with reporters today in a wrap to the Sabres' 21-51-10 trainwreck of a season, the worst by an NHL team in 14 years. And Murray was frank in his assessment of what happened and what he'll do going forward. He said he pulled no punches when he met with his players yesterday prior to the taking of the annual team photo.

"This year was completely unacceptable," Murray said. "I told them it wasn't all on them. It was on management, it was on coaching staff. A lot of it was on injuries where we had to put people into positions that they aren't ready for. So that's out of our hands. As far as coming next year and being ready to battle for jobs, there's going to be competition and we're not going to hand jobs to come in unless they deserve it."

"A lot of nights it was hard to watch," Murray said a few minutes later. "A lot of nights we competed hard and just didn't have enough talent to put us over the top but other nights weren't pretty."

continued

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Thoughts Before The Playoffs Start

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

- Pending free agent Paul Stastny says he wants to stay in Colorado, and the Avalanche keeping him past the trade deadline shows a sense it can be done. But he will be watched very closely in the playoffs, just in case. Scouts like his two-way game, his intelligence, his positioning and his ability to make others better. If there's one concern, and he's heard it plenty, it's his skating. If you get him on the market, you're going to have to give up term. Will there be a point where he slows enough that it changes his game? Teams will risk it if they think he can help them win soon.

- Another who will be watched closely is Mike Richards. Just 41 points this year, his lowest since he was 21 years old in 2006-07. His points-per-game goes up from 0.71 to 0.79 in the playoffs, so there is an expectation he will be a difference-maker. He seemed slower this season, not as energetic.

- "If you look at their history," said one exec, "If you're going to get Boston, you might as well get them in the first round." The last three seasons, they've gone to a Game 7 overtime in the opening stage, winning two and losing one.

more including Friedman passing out some hardware...

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Craig MacTavish On The State Of The Oilers

from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,

Key quotes from the Craig MacTavish press conference.
Oilers GM Craig MacTavish held a year-end presser, starting off with the expected comments, that the team hadn’t met expectations this year, but everyone in the organization is still committed to winning a Stanley Cup. The culture of the organization is to bring in hard-working, competitive “character” people.

This is exactly what the 14 other NHL GMs who didn’t make the playoffs are now telling their fans.

As for specifics, MacTavish gave a stay-the-course kind of message, with no promise of any bold moves, though he did talk about adding a “high-end” d-man.

On Eakins: “This is the right coach to lead us.”
“I’m more confident in my decision to hire Dallas Eakins than the day I hired him,” MacTavish said. “I’m more convinced that this is the right coach to lead us into much more successful times. … Time will prove that this coach was a very good hire for our organization. I really feel like he’s the guy to add the cultural elements, and police the cultural elements, that are necessary to build the quality team that we’re trying to build.

continued

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Afternoon Line

"Any place I go, I'm going to be me. I'm going to be involved within the community. I'm going to work my butt off for that NHL team. That's the only way I know. That's how I'm wired."

-Barry Trotz.  Much more on Trotz from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.

Would you want Trotz to coach your NHL team?

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Playoff Thoughts

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

The matchup I can’t wait for? Chicago and St. Louis. Old Norris Division rivals; speed versus hurt; ample anger on both sides and one team can hold its ability to win Cups over the other championship-challenged franchise. Yes, please.

The fact Tampa Bay goalie and Vezina candidate Ben Bishop is sidelined seems to have made Montreal the consensus pick in that matchup. I follow that logic, but Tampa is an aggressive young team and the Habs defence can get twisted in knots easier than some realize. If Carey Price isn’t significantly better than Lightning fill-in goalie Anders Lindback, look out.

read on for 14 more...

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Randy Carlyle Met With The Media Today

from TSN,

Randy Carlyle could only speak for the moment when asked about his future as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, addressing the media on Tuesday for the first time after his team's season ended short of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I'm here today,” he said when asked whether he would be back with the club for the 2014-15 season.

“In this business you take on the responsibility of wins and losses, he continued. “You put your best foot forward and try to be honest and forthright with people and that's what we're trying to do as a hockey club.”

Carlyle's future has been the subject of great speculation in the wake of a disappointing season for the Leafs. A March free-fall saw the team plummet from third in the Eastern Conference to a 38-36-8 finish, good for the eighth-worst record in the League.

continued

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Picking The San Jose Sharks

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

The easy assumption is that the Bruins could get by the Red Wings, Canadiens, or whomever is left for the Conference Final without facing the gauntlet while the Western champion has to muddle through Chicago and St. Louis; San Jose and Los Angeles; just to be left standings for one round.

By form, the rested Eastern champ, Boston, should beat the weary Western champ, be it the Blackhawks, Kings, Sharks, or whomever else. But by form, Colorado and Anaheim shouldn’t have ended up in first place.

Which leads me to my Stanley Cup pick: The Sharks.

Why? In this first season of trying to figure out the new playoff format, why not have the team win we can never figure out?

more

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Eugene Melnyk On The Senators

from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,

“Paul is our coach, he’s going to be our coach going into next year,” said Melnyk, who suggested that there could be other changes within the coaching staff and hockey operations department.

While he cleared up MacLean’s status, the water is still muddy as far as Spezza is concerned.

“Jason understands what his role was and is,” said Melnyk. “He’s a professional and understands that he could be here today and gone tomorrow, or he could stay long term and be with the team for many years. (His future) is dependent on on what other pieces we need to put together.

“He’s one of 20 plus players. You can’t put all on his shoulder.”...

At the same time, however, Melnyk says that doesn’t mean he’s going to spend to the NHL salary cap. He insists the best avenue to success is spending money “behind the scenes”, scouting properly and on developing players from within.

“It’s very, very easy to increase payroll,” he said. “Any idiot can do it. Lots of idiots do.”

more

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Team USA Names Peter Laviolette As Head Coach For IIHF World Championship

from USA Hockey,

Peter Laviolette (Franklin, Mass.) has been named head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team that will participate in the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship it was announced today by USA Hockey. The event will take place in Minsk, Belarus, May 9-25. Team USA is the defending bronze medalist in the event.

Laviolette has previously represented the United States in international competition on numerous occasions in several different capacities. He most recently served as an assistant coach for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team in Sochi, Russia, and was the head coach of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team in Torino, Italy. Prior to that, Laviolette was head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team at the IIHF Men's World Championship in back-to-back years (2004, 2005), leading the United States to the bronze medal in 2004.

continued

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  Tags: peter+laviolette

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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