Kukla's Korner Hockey
fromm Pierre Lebrun of the CP via Yahoo,
Only seven points separate sixth-place Tampa Bay from the 11th-place Rangers with Carolina, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Toronto sandwiched in between and seven and half weeks to go in the regular season. The Rangers, who play at Carolina on Thursday night, feel they’re primed for a run.
“I do feel that way. It’s not just yapping, it’s the real deal,” Rangers head coach Tom Renney said Wednesday. “I’ve seen the way we’ve played in the last two weeks. If we were in the playoffs and they were starting tomorrow, I would feel very, very good about playing anybody.”
from David Amber at ESPN,
In this week’s Facing Off, Guerin explains why the Blues could be considered “America’s Team,” how Mark McGwire is getting a raw deal from Hall of Fame voters and why hanging out with Bobby Holik just one night was more than enough.
Q: When you look at traditional hockey cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago not selling out every game, what do you think about the state of the game in the United States?
A: It needs improvement. I know they’re trying to improve on marketing, but we have to do more. We have to focus on the fans, we have to keep them happy and we have to reach out for more fans. It’s definitely an uphill battle.
from Damien Cox at ESPN,
The Flyers, when good, have been a punishing, kick-sand-in-your-face team blessed with more money than common sense (at times) because of a deep, hard-core following in the City of Brotherly Love. But they haven’t exactly engendered a great deal of affection and warmth across the NHL in the four decades they’ve been in existence.
Even last summer, the Flyers raised hackles everywhere by putting out a free-agent offer sheet to Vancouver winger Ryan Kesler, an ultimately fruitless effort that once more created angry mutterings around the league.
from Ted Leonsis at his blog, Ted’s Take,
The Capitals play 32 games against SE division foes. It is a tough division, as an example, Pittsburgh is 5-6 and 3 against our division but is 7 and 0, picking up 14 points against the Flyers this year.
So we play against the toughest opponents the most times in our division and sell the least amount of tickets against those teams.
from The Bellowing Moose at NBC Sports,
Why the sudden boldness from Preds’ GM David Poile (once described by a colleague as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing”)? Because Nashville needs success-at the gate and on the ice-as soon as possible.
Despite contending for first place in the NHL’s overall standings, the Preds have been anything but a chart topper at home. Owner Craig Leipold has been looking for local ownership without success, and if his team doesn’t start selling some tickets, it may not qualify for his beloved revenue sharing money, believed to be more than $10 million last season.
So a gamble on Forsberg makes sense. The Predators can afford to give up some prospects (they have one of the deepest reserve lists in the league) and landing a player of Forsberg’s stature would make a splash, even in Nashville, where the players could wear full equipment into a restaurant and still not get noticed.
“When you don’t have any additional cap space, you have to look at flexibility,” Regier said.
“Do you want the extra depth in goal? Do you want to exchange it for an extra defenseman or an extra forward? The thing that has to be respected is that this group that put us in first place, so to the extent that we change it, it’s because we believe it’s going to make us stronger.”
One rumor that’s been floated is that Tim Connolly’s salary wouldn’t count towards the salary cap if he didn’t return until the playoffs. WGR’s Brad Riter spoke with NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly last night, who told him the rumor was, in fact, a rule, but anyone abusing that rule would be penalized.
from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
“Honestly, it’s very difficult to understand, the way Sidney’s been treated since the beginning of his career,” Crosby’s agent, Pat Brisson, said Tuesday. “In my opinion, it hasn’t been fair. This is someone who gives 100 percent on every shift, on and off the ice, for his team and his league.”
Within the past month, we’ve seen Crosby speared in the abdomen (Jason Blake), butt-ended in the gut on a game-opening faceoff (Maxim Lapierre) and cut in the face with a high stick (Francis Bouillon), without any of the infractions drawing so much as a minor penalty.
via the LA Times (reg. req.),
The play centered on a non-call of an apparent delay-of-game penalty by Avalanche forward Ben Guite with the Ducks desperately trying to cut into a 2-0 Colorado lead. Afterward, Selanne did little to hide his disdain for the referees’ work despite taking some extra time to cool off.
“I expect nothing less than to be the best and I would expect the referees to do the same thing,” Selanne said. “There’s four guys [including the linesmen]. If one guy can’t see anything, there’s three other guys.”
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle was irritated with Selanne’s conduct on the ice.
“That can’t happen,” Carlyle said.
from the Daily Texan (Univ. of Texas),
As Toronto Maple Leaf rookie left wing Kris Newbury lay on the Air Canada Centre ice with blood streaming from his ears, you can bet NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was more than a little concerned.
The fact that this was the closing moments of a tied battle televised on the biggest stage - Hockey Night in Canada - between the sport’s biggest team, the Leafs, and the team led by the sport’s greatest star, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, surely didn’t help.
from the Province,
Roberto Luongo is pictured on the cover of the upcoming Feb. 20 edition of The Hockey News. His eyes are piercing with intense determination. His words are bold and absolute.
“I will be in the playoffs this year. Nothing will stop me,” the goalie’s quoted as saying in defiant response to the fact he’s yet to appear in a postseason game.
For many playoff-hungry Canucks fans, Luongo’s vow will stir memories of sports most-transcendent predictions—Muhammad Ali’s promise to beat Sonny Liston, Joe Namath’s vow to win Super Bowl III and Mark Messier’s guarantee before Game Six of the ‘94 NHL Eastern Conference final.
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