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Blues Thinking Playoffs

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

The Blues (12-19-7) have played 10 games under Andy Murray, and their 5-2-3 record — including 5-0-3 in their last eight games — is the ninth-best mark in the NHL in that stretch of games. It’s not a huge climb, but in two weeks the club has made up five points on the last playoff team in the West.
“You almost didn’t want to look at the standings for a couple of years,” Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. “But now, we’ve put ourselves in a position where we can get right back in the thick of things.”

read on

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Olilers Skid

from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,

There’s no understating the way the wheels have fallen off his hockey team.
The defence is running around in its own end with its head cut off and Dwayne Roloson is starting to look more like the Ty Conklin who replaced him in goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final than the guy who took the Oilers there last year. The Oilers are 1-7 in Roloson’s last eight games and Roli the Goalie has a 4.0 goals against average.
The Oilers need a big save right now as bad as Roloson needs to hose down the fire drill going on in front of him.

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Old School- Remembering Crozier

from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,

The goaltenders in the road hockey games of my youth were Charlie Hodge or Gump Worsley, in make-believe. Was there a Montreal kid who didn’t want to be a Canadiens goalie of the time?
A few, come to think of it. But the misguided souls who dared pretend to be Toronto’s Johnny Bower or Terry Sawchuk had slashed shins to show for it.
But whenever someone made the truly spectacular, tennis ball-rejecting save - the bent-over-backward, crossbar-clutching, schoolyard-bragging, contortionist special - the goalie was only one NHLer, ever.
He was Roger Crozier.

continued

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Gretzky In D.C. To Watch…

via the Washington Post (reg. req.),

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, presumably in town to watch his team beat the Washington Capitals yesterday, toasted the New Year at Morton’s steakhouse on Connecticut Avenue, the restaurant’s publicist Linda Roth tells us.
Gretzky, part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, arrived at Morton’s around 9 p.m. with a party of 18. By the time they left—before midnight—he and his group had feasted on a variety of seafood, steak and three $675 bottles of Opus One.

Maybe someone should tell the Washington Post Wayne is also the coach!!!

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Vokoun Will Test Thumb

from the Tennessean,

Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun will take the next step in his rehabilitation today, when he takes the ice to stop shots during an informal practice session at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Vokoun, who suffered torn ligaments in his thumb Nov. 23, has been skating on his own. But today will mark the first time he’s tested the thumb against shooters.

continued

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One More Time For Yzerman

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

One more time, the faithful in Hockeytown will salute a modern-day Red Wing legend tonight at Joe Louis Arena….
This is what sports is all about, isn’t it? Sure, Howe is Mr. Hockey is Detroit, but Yzerman is the heart and soul of Hockeytown. That’s why a huge mural hangs downtown to salute a man who played with the heart of a champion. A man who willed the Wings to championships in 1997, 1998 and 2002—the final Cup won while basically playing on only one good leg.

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In-Season Tourney

from Mark Everson of the NY Post,

Attendance is waning, interest disappearing, the great winter sport becoming trivial and still, the NHL won’t set up three-rival holiday tournaments in its regular season schedule….
It would be so easy, as we’ve noted here through the years. Buy, build or sell sponsorship rights to 10 trophies and play home-and-home round-robin tournaments among geographical rivalry groups of three. The points count in the standings since they’re regular-season games, and the team with the most points in the quick “tourney” wins the trophy.

more

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No Need To Watch

Ted Montgomery of USA TODAY tells us which teams will make the playoffs and which ones will not…

• The Edmonton Oilers will surprise the hockey world by not making the playoffs just one season removed from their amazing playoff run in 2006. In the process, the bloom will come off the rose that is Dwayne Roloson.
• The San Jose Sharks will post the best season in franchise history and will just miss going to the Cup finals. The Sharks will finally emerge as one of the elite teams in the league for many years to come.

more

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Less Is Moore

from the Toronto Star: Mark Moore (yes, Steve Moore’s brother) has some radical suggestions for improving player safety and fan friendliness in the NHL:

MORE 4-ON-4
While producing a reduced number of collisions and injuries, 4-on-4 also happens to make for some of the most wide open and thrilling NHL action in overtime and during coincidental penalties. Recent talk of increasing the net size would be a poor way of trying to add goals and excitement compared to the end-to-end action and creativity of 4-on-4. Going forward, the NHL needs to look hard at reinstating the red line and switching to full-time 4-on-4 action.
MARKING VIOLENT FOULS
Most infractions in hockey fall naturally into a category of obstructive acts (hooking, holding, interference, etc.) or violent acts (slashing, cross-checking, charging, hit from behind, etc.). It’s time the NHL sent a message of zero tolerance on the violent behaviours by marking them out as a specific category, and punishing them more severely. Similar to soccer’s yellow card warning and the NBA’s “flagrant foul,” any violent hockey act could be accompanied by an automatic 10-minute misconduct in addition to the two-minute penalty. And much like the team foul in basketball, a limit of one per team, per period before the offending team incurs an extra two-minute bench penalty for each subsequent violent penalty.

continued

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Think Of The Fans

from John Ondrasik (Five For Fighting) at Sports Illustrated,

As the NHL floats the idea of cutting its six divisions down to four to save on team travel costs and juice TV ratings by keeping broadcasts in the same time zone as often as possible, here are my wishes for making the game more fan-friendly in new years to come.
1. Show me the games
It’s nice that the league wants to boost its ratings, but have you tried to find a hockey game on the tube lately? Don’t bother if you pitch your tent on the road like I often do.
The NHL has to go back to ESPN.

read on

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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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