Kukla's Korner Hockey
Coach Sutter was not a happy man after the Devils loss last night.. from Fire & Ice, .
“We didn’t do anything tonight. We were terrible. That’s what happens when you don’t prepare to play a game that’s meaningful and every game at this level is meaningful. It shows the difference in preparation right there tonight. They were prepared to play and you have a team that’s not focused to play. You go through things with them and talk to them to you blue and red in the face.
“Tonight was a lack of professionalism on our hockey team’s part. If anybody wants to tell you different, they’re liars. That’s about all. Thanks guys.”
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
The Canes gave away a house, a car and the jerseys off their backs. They may have given away the division title as well with a 4-3 loss to the Panthers on Friday—Florida’s first win at the RBC Center since December 2002, in arguably the only game of the 16 since that really mattered.
“Everybody’s sick about it,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s not a good feeling. I don’t know what to tell you. There’s not a good feeling about it, nothing positive to take from tonight.
“We needed to win a game to be in charge, win our division, have home ice in the playoffs, and we lost that. It’s gut-wrenching.”
With the loss tonight by Carolina, the Eastern Conference playoff teams are set in stone except for the Caps and the Canes.
Pittsburgh, Montreal, Washington (with a point in their next game), New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Boston are in.
from Spector at Fox Sports,
Both clubs will now have a longer than expected off-season to address the problem areas that led to their decline in 2007-08.
For the Sabres, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners and a two-time Eastern Conference finalist, the fall from grace was significant.
The loss of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury last summer to unrestricted free agency hurt the Sabres, leaving a gaping hole of veteran leadership and skill that they were unable to fill….
As for the Canucks, the lack of offensive production that got them bounced in the second round of late year’s playoffs cost them a playoff berth this season. Yes, injuries did take their toll on the Canucks but despite that, for most of this season they held onto a playoff berth before collapsing down the stretch.
from the CP via Yahoo,
‘But Alfredsson took some of the heat off the Toronto Maple Leafs forward Friday by blaming himself for winding up on the receiving end of a blind-side hit from Bell that will force the him to miss the Senators’ final regular-season game and at least the start of the playoffs should they qualify.
“I think it’s more myself (at fault),” said Alfredsson, who’s out with an unspecified upper-body injury and a knee injury, although he denied he suffered a concussion. “Usually I’m aware of what’s going on around me and I had no idea he was coming.”
from the CP via TSN,
Making or missing the playoffs can be big for NHL clubs, both in cash and in reputation when it comes to signing unrestricted free agents in the summer. After all, how many free agents say they want to play for teams with little chance of winning?
Among Canadian teams this season, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are already out while Montreal and Calgary are in and Ottawa is on the cusp of clinching.
The Oilers went all the way to the Stanley Cup final only two seasons ago, losing to Carolina. LaForge said that was probably worth $20 million in ticket, gear and other sales in the first year alone.
from Lightning Strikes,
Washington’s Matt Cooke, who’s hit on Vinny Lecavalier caused the Lightning star’s shoulder injury, was fined Friday $2,500 by the league. There was no suspension. The league decided Cooke’s open-ice hit on Lecavalier, who was not carrying the puck, should have been an interference call.
From Robin Brownlee at the Canadian Press (via Yahoo),
“I’ve never been afraid of expectations,” coach Craig MacTavish said. “If you don’t have expectations, you very seldom have success. Knowing expectations are warranted, and in this case they’re very warranted, the expectation is we’re going to pick up where we left off at the end of this year.”
Despite losing captain Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray and Raffi Torres to season-ending injuries, the Oilers fashioned a record of 14-5-1 in their final 20 games.
“There’s a ton of optimism,” Horcoff said. “At the same time, nothing is guaranteed. There’s a lot of good teams. “We just want to get to the point that we’re one of them year-in and year-out. We want to build some consistency. If you’re going to be a team that’s going to win the division, especially our division, you need the depth. There is lots to look forward to.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Now a consultant with the Detroit Red Wings, Bowman was asked in an interview how coaching in the playoffs differed from coaching in the regular season.
Bowman’s answer: In the playoffs, coaches need to be far more adaptable.
“You can’t be set in your ways,” began Bowman. “During the season, it’s all about repetition and you push guys to play a certain way. Once you get in the playoffs, there may come a time when you have to make a right turn. If you’re going good, you want it to continue, but if you’re not, all of a sudden, you may have to try something different and play a different style of game.”
read on plus more NHL talk…
from Ryan Dixon at the Hockey News,
But this year’s version of the New York Rangers isn’t your typical brash, big-city bunch. A team that in recent years came to be known for its heavy Czech presence is really more about checking hard at both ends of the rink and thriving on a north-south game. That and fantastic goaltending.
With the Eastern Conference as wide open as Saskatchewan, the Rangers are starting to gather a sizeable following of people who believe this could be the year Madison Square Garden plays host to another Stanley Cup final.
Update 5:56pm ET— From Bill Clement at NBC Sports, more Rangers optimism:
Having made the playoffs for the third straight year under coach Tom Renney, the Rangers shouldn’t be sold short of capping their season with a ticker-tape parade down New York’s Canyon of Heroes.
The only other time such a celebration took place for this franchise was in 1994, when captain Mark Messier helped end over a half-century of futility on ice in the Big Apple.
Looking at the competitive balance in the Eastern Conference, one would be crazy not to think the Rangers could make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. And if they do, with the strengths they possess and with the possibility their opponent will have paid a heavy price to come out of the rough-and-tumble West, the Rangers will have a better-than-average chance to sometime in June skate around the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup held high.
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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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