Kukla's Korner Hockey
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
“He had been getting better,” Maurice said. “He came back to practice [Monday] and we had the expectation he would feel considerably better and didn’t, so he’s not playing. If he doesn’t feel better, he won’t play the rest of the games.”
However, when Maurice was asked to reflect on Sundin’s season, one of his best since coming to the Maple Leafs in 1994, he dismissed the notion Sundin’s days in Toronto are finished.
“I’ll answer that question and someone over here will take a piece of it and say, ‘Mats might be done for the year.’ ” Maurice said. “Then we’ll spend three weeks putting out a fire that you and I just created for no reason.
“There’s going to come a point in time, in six or seven years, when Mats retires. Then you’re going to spend the next 20 years with parades, tributes, Mats Sundin nights, the ashtrays, the coffee cups, matchbooks.
“We’ll let that all happen.”
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
The Avalanche didn’t sign Ryan Smyth to a five-year, $31.25 million contract for him to be a third-liner.
But with Colorado in position to clinch a playoff spot tonight, when the Avs face the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place, that is what Smyth has been of late — a third-liner.
“Whatever Coach wants me to play, I’ll play,” Smyth said.
With 14 goals in 53 games in a season disrupted by a broken ankle and a shoulder injury, Smyth will likely have to be far more effective — and more often revert to his trademark gritty play around the net — if Colorado has any shot of getting out of the first round of the playoffs.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
So we will wait to annoint Brian Campbell as the second-coming of Paul Coffey in San Jose until we see how far the 106-point Sharks go this spring. But right now the former Buffalo Sabres defenceman is clearly the best addition any team made on Feb. 26 or in the leadup to the deadline.
You can make a case for goalie Cristobal Huet in Washington (8-2, 1.83 average) and Joe Corvo (18 points in 20 games, plus-6) in Carolina, too, but Campbell has given the NHL’s hottest team exactly what they needed—a blueliner who could easily transport the puck up ice and run the power play.
He’s got 16 points in 17 games which gives him 59 points on the year, third most for defencemen after Nicklas Lidstrom’s 66 and Sergei Gonchar’s 62, and is also plus-10 in San Jose
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
To listen to various opinion-makers and theorists, the club is planning or should be planning buyouts of Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Mark Bell and Jason Blake, among others.
That would be madness.
To start with, buy out that many players and you’d end up with an annual cap hit upward of $6 million annually for between three to six years. It’s less than the $20 million cost of keeping them on the roster, but for a team that annually budgets to spend as much money as possible, paying that many players not to play becomes a significant, long-term impediment to improvement.
A far better approach – although a more expensive one for ownership – is to send unwanted players to the minors.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
The business of covering the Canadiens is an industry unto itself, complicated by a time when old news is what was reported the click of a mouse ago.
This is not the same communications world as when Carbonneau played. He understands that. And it was clear yesterday that he wasn’t so much trying to control the news as he was attempting to consolidate it, a noble but impossible task in a highly competitive, insatiable media landscape.
There are confidences and trusts built between players and reporters during a long season; phone numbers are exchanged, cordial, even friendly relationships are developed. That won’t change, though the tone of conversation is bound to change, Carbonneau surely having discussed it with his team.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
Has Murray given any thought about giving Emery one more shot to reclaim the No. 1 job?
“I haven’t for (tonight),” he said yesterday. “That’s as far as I’m going.”
Not exactly a vote of confidence for Gerber. Nor does he deserve one.
In tangibles, there’s probably not much to choose from between Emery and Gerber. Neither one of them is very likely to win you the Cup on their play alone.
But when it comes to intangibles, Emery has the definite edge. He exudes confidence. He has the experience. He played all 20 of Ottawa’s playoff games last spring, and all 10 they had the spring before that. Thirty games. That’s a lot of testing under fire.
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
It is that time of year when a hockey player no longer has thousands of bones, muscles, and ligaments.
No, there are just two halves to a hockey humanoid at playoff time: upper body and lower body. Overnight, they suddenly become simpler than the stick men we drew in grade school.
I’ve always wondered where exactly the dividing line is between upper body and lower body. Groin and hip injuries are usually lumped into the lower body category, though by my calculations, they’re pretty much Middle Earth. How about the belly button?
from the Vancouver Sun,
They need three victories to ensure a Stanley Cup playoff spot, starting with tonight’s home date against the Colorado Avalanche. They can get by on two victories if pursuing Nashville and Edmonton accommodate them by losing one more apiece. In any case, reputations (and jobs) are at stake for everyone in the organization.
Will they be winners? Or will they be losers?
“We know if we don’t go deep in the playoffs, people are going to look at us that we’re not playoff performers,” Henrik Sedin conceded Monday. “The regular season is so tough to get into the playoffs. To be there shows that the team is good and that you personally have had a good season, too.
“It’s something to be proud of, to make the playoffs, because it doesn’t happen every year.”
from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,
“It’s probably the most important week in my NHL career,” Ovechkin told a larger-than-usual crowd of reporters and cameras at Kettler Capitals Iceplex yesterday morning. “We had that bad feeling the last [two] years because we didn’t play for the playoffs.”
Tonight, Ovechkin (league-best 62 goals and 109 points) and the Capitals open a three-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes with a trip to the postseason—and the Southeast Division title—still within their grasp.
more (reg. req.)
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Bare moments later, there was Spezza standing, as he does every day, in front of his locker to answer virtually the same questions over and over and over again. Only this time there was a twist. Instead of being asked, “What’s gone wrong?” he was asked his opinion on the current muttering in the capital city that the Senators’ end-of-season woes are all because of a “lack of effort.”
“That’s bullshit,” Spezza answered in a refreshing break from the usual hockey clichés about game plans and keeping it simple.
“That’s bullshit — it’s not lack of effort at all.”
But it is … something.
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