Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Starkey at the Hockey News,
It used to be that Fleury made the simple save look spectacular; he dropped to his knees more often than a break dancer. Now, pucks are regularly hitting him in the chest. Coach Michel Therrien’s structured system hasn’t hurt and it’s nice when your guys are filling nets like longshore fishermen, too.
“The team is helping me out a lot,” Fleury said. “They’re blocking shots and clearing rebounds, which is a big help. The forwards are coming back.”
Truth is, Fleury has begun to look like a closer. His penchant for allowing bad goals at the worst times had all but disappeared.
from the Edmonton Journal,
“Clearly we have room in terms of our (owners) commitment (to spend more money).”
Lowe needs some sizzle. He needs a puck-moving defenceman in the worst way. On the last road trip, captain Jason Smith had the most points of all the blue-liners in the lineup, with nine. That’s right, NINE. The injured Steve Staios leads the way with 17.
Lowe needs a scorer on the wing, even if he can’t re-sign Smyth, maybe a big body with an edge to his game, too. He might want a playmaking centre, as well. If Joffrey Lupul, who’s had a miserable year, can’t work with Shawn Horcoff or Jarret Stoll or any other centres, maybe he has to get somebody else, although Horcoff is certainly more of a passer than a shooter.
There are 190 unrestricted free agents at last look. With an increased salary cap in the neighborhood of $48 million US, Lowe has to spend some of the owners’ money.
from the Toronto Star,
Oh, Canada, they are standing on guard for thee. The home and native sons are having an outstanding season in our national game’s top competition.
Not that statistics tell the whole story or that citizenship matters so much within the National Hockey League melting pot, but check the passports and there’s a blaze of maple leafs among the scoring leaders.
The top four points men entering yesterday’s play were Canadians – Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton and Martin St. Louis – as were seven of the top eight.
from Woody Paige of the Denver Post,
“We’re in a position that if we keep winning, we can be where we want to be,” Budaj said.
Let me translate for Budaj, who is from Slovakia.
The Avalanche has 80 points, Calgary 84. They are even at 72 games. They are even for the season at three games apiece. They play two more - April 3 in Calgary and on the last day of the season, April 8, in Denver.
The last is a makeup from Dec. 21, when one of the 50 snowstorms postponed the game. Wouldn’t it be odd if that game determines the playoff team. Very well could be.
If the Avalanche maintains pace with the slumping Flames in the teams’ other eight games and then wins those two close encounters, the Avs are in, the Flames out.
That’s what the Avalanche goalie was trying to say. You don’t have to translate that he is 26-15-5 in net and getting stronger.
from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,
Why try to pretend that the Bruins are much more than a rather mediocre team? As with all bottom-half teams in the NHL, the B’s have had some good stretches of play and some genuinely great games. But they always seem to slip back to their true, slightly-over-.500 selves….
The problem for the Bruins, as was painfully revealed in Saturday’s 7-0 humiliation at the hands of the Rangers, is that they already have more than enough second-tier players - and several who don’t rate even that high.
In a game they should have given heart and soul to try to win, the Bruins were, as Lewis so candidly expressed it, “slow, weak, soft and intimated.”
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
The Canucks look like they will be a force in the playoffs. I have a suspicion they might be the Oilers of 2006 or the Flames of 2004.
The Canucks have an all-world goalie in Roberto Luongo. (Now, really, did anyone think the Wings were going to rally from that 3-1 deficit after two periods Saturday?) It’s similar to what the Wings enjoy when Dominik Hasek is on his game.
It makes all the difference in the world when you have the confidence of knowing that your goalie will not surrender a lead in the third period.
a little more on the Nucks plus a little Wings talk…
from Gary Peterson of the Contra Costa Times,
A lot of people are convinced there will (and should) come a time when Team Wilson (coach Ron and general manager Doug) will submit to tradition and name Nabokov the team’s postseason horse.
Of course, a lot of people have been nothing but wrong to this point. But hey, we—um, they—can’t be wrong forever.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Was Gary Roberts worth a No. 1 pick?
The Senators didn’t think so….
Muckler refused. He didn’t want to gamble away the future.
Instead, Ottawa acquired Phoenix winger Oleg Saprykin, who sat out his fourth straight game last night.
Since joining the Penguins, Roberts has added character, grit and leadership alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal.
from the Calgary Sun,
This morning, a mere 18 sleeps later, the Avs are only four points back of the Flames with both teams having 10 games remaining.
The Flames are looking over their shoulders.
“Everybody’s written us off but that’s fine,” said centre Craig Conroy, one of a handful of players who practised yesterday. “You have bumps and hiccups (in a season) but who’s to say this isn’t it? This could be the point where it turns around and things start going great.
“It’s got to start Tuesday, though, because we can’t take any time off and can’t wait any longer because Colorado’s coming and we’ve put ourselves in this position.”
from the Montreal Gazette,
Goaltender Michael Leighton was given a warm welcome by his new Canadiens teammates when he joined them in Buffalo on March 2, three days after being plucked off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.
“And then the guys told me I should put Velcro on the front of my practice jersey,” Leighton recalled, grinning. “That way, I could tear off the crest and add a different one every other week.”
Montreal is Leighton’s sixth team this season - from the Anaheim Ducks to their American Hockey League minor-pro Portland Pirates, to the Nashville Predators, to Philadelphia (the Flyers and their AHL Phantoms) and finally to the Canadiens, where he’ll finish the season.
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.
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