Kukla's Korner Hockey
From John Vogl at The Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres’ coach could face his toughest decision of the season Wednesday when his suddenly impressive team returns to the ice to face Tampa Bay. The Sabres have won two in a row and, at times, looked dominating doing it. All four forward lines were solid, with a player from each scoring Saturday during a 6-2 victory over Toronto.
But once again, Connolly could become a factor. The oft-injured center might be healthy enough to play against the Lightning. He sat out the three games last week, and the team has three days between games this week. That might be enough time for Connolly’s sore hip to get enough rest.
So, what’s a coach to do? Does he stick with the same lineup, reward the 12 forwards who spent the weekend playing well? Or does he risk disruption by inserting Connolly, one of his finest all-around players and a guy who can make a difference when healthy?
more... with Sabres one point out of 8th in the East
From Rich Chere at the Star-Ledger,
When the Devils started this season with their nine-game road trip and a roster that had some around the league holding back smirks, it seemed unthinkable that they would have the best record in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play.
Few doubted that a Lou Lamoriello team would be competitive, even one that lost its No. 1 center via free agency, was missing a top defenseman with a serious eye injury and had a plan in place to use goalie Martin Brodeur less often. But first place in the conference?
“If you looked on paper at our roster and compared it to some other teams in the conference, possibly not,” captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “But I think some guys on this team are underrated as far as putting up numbers.”
NEW YORK—Calgary Flames right wing Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Petr Sykora and Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending March 16.
From Scott Burnside at ESPN,
One of the basic principles of the North American court system is that an open court is a just court. A closed court, by extension, is a court in which the seeds of doubt about whether justice is served are always present. It is why many of the NHL’s [disciplinary] decisions are regularly (and quietly) questioned by team officials and ridiculed by the media.
Why not make the process like a regular court?
Surely there is room in the NHL’s process for a stronger voice from the victim of these acts? And most important, why not establish a process by which the media can cover these events as they would any court proceeding. Whether it’s in person or via conference call or another manner, the give and take between the accused, the victim and the league should be open and accessible to ensure that justice is done.
From Mike Brophy at The Hockey News,
It’s almost time to vote for the Hart Trophy and I’ve got to be honest, I am not even close to picking my winner.
I will say, though, I have narrowed it down to four candidates – goalies Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, left winger Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and right winger Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames.
I firmly believe, had Sidney Crosby not missed so much action with that high ankle sprain, he would have repeated as the Hart winner. Oh well.
Update 5:50pm ET: John Glennon at The Tennessean wonders this about Ovechkin,
“His energy and his passion — if you could bottle that and stick it inside your players — you would have an unbelievable team.’’
It sounds like the description of an MVP, but there’s a catch. The Capitals are in a position similar to that of the Predators, two points out of the playoff picture with nine games remaining in the season.
Hence the question: Should Washington fall short of the postseason, should Ovechkin win the MVP? The last player to accomplish such a feat was a guy named Mario Lemieux, who did it while playing for Pittsburgh in 1986-87.
Anyone have a spare generator they can ship to Michigan ASAP? Paul’s lost power, so posting may be minimal for the next few hours.
Update 1:30pm ET: (from alanah) Paul is still unavailable due to power problems. He’ll be back as soon as he can.
from Craig Custance of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Bubble teams aren’t just for NCAA tournament Selection Sunday. Thanks to parity and three-point games, there’s no shortage of bubble teams in the NHL.
As teams enter the final 10 games of their season, we handicap who is likely to be in and who’ll be out when the dust settles.
WE LIKE THEIR CHANCES
New York Rangers: After a slow start, things are starting to click for a Rangers team that many thought was the best in the East following a big-spending summer.
from Brian Costello of the Hockey News,
A growing trend in the NHL’s salary cap era is the fast-tracking of talented youngsters into prominent roles strictly for financial reasons.
That’s not really breaking news, but we’re sure noticing it with more regularity each season, especially when putting together our list of top 50 prospects for Future Watch 2008.
We were more than a little shocked to realize the top seven prospects from Future Watch 2007 made the quick jump to the NHL this season.
Over at the AVSForums, a thread headline reads... “Russian Rocket Fails To Put Dish Network Satellite In Proper Orbit.”
Only a hockey fan would reply… “When I saw this thread I thought of Pavel Bure.”
from Gary Peterson of the Contra Costa Times via Inside Bay Area,
We have seen over the past three weeks that Marleau still has jump in those 29-year-old legs, and that the Sharks are better off when he’s on top of his game. But there are bigger questions afoot that cannot be answered until the regular season ends, and the mission shifts from playoff positioning to legend making and legacy building.
Question No. 1: Speaking of interpretive data: Does Marleau rise to the level of competition, or does he shrink from it? In 2004, he scored seven goals as the Sharks defeated St. Louis and Colorado in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He was held to one goal and was a minus-5 in the conference final loss to Calgary.
In 2006, he scalded Nashville for seven goals as the Sharks won in five games. He scored two goals as they were eliminated by Edmonton.
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