Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Morrison at Sun Media,
Regardless of what derailed them earlier this season, good teams and good players find a way to get the job done and that simply and obviously hasn’t been happening.
It’s a cliche, but now we will see what these Senators are really made of and, in an excruciating way, if they are somehow able to get it done, if they are finally able to beat the Leafs in a game that matters, if they are able to secure a playoff spot, it may make them all that much stronger this spring. The key word, however, remains may.
It also generally holds true that you are never as good as your highest high (see 15-2) and, the Senators hope, never as bad as your lowest low. Tonight, we find out if the team that has broken a million hearts in springs gone by is merely off to an early start.
added 7:06am, from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
You could call Ottawa “Twitchy City” at the moment, the call-in shows, the water coolers, the bars and even the parking lots filled with general managers who know the root cause — troublesome second goaltender Ray Emery, lazy defensive play by big-name players such as Dany Heatley, slow defencemen such as Luke Richardson and Wade Redden, bad trades such as the one for Mike Commodore and black tape instead of white on the blade of Daniel Alfredsson’s stick — and claim to know the answers as well.
from Lew Serviss of Slap Shot at the NY Times,
Kyle Turris stepped onto the ice at the Phoenix Coyotes’ practice Tuesday and took his first strides as an NHL player….
Centering the Coyotes’ most skilled forwards, Turris flew up and down the ice, dispensing passes, finding lanes and roofing the puck by goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Mueller looked skyward. (“That’s why he was drafted third over all,” he said later.)
Off the ice, a beaming veteran of one NHL practice, Turris faced his first NHL media scrum. “It’s a mix of emotion,” he said, “from losing in the final 8 to the next morning, I’m talking here, and the next night I’m in here. It’s been crazy. I’m so excited I can’t even talk right now.”
more with video…
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
As a (relatively) unbiased observer of all teams, my first-round match up fantasies are based solely on what is best for entertainment value and television ratings.*
*Increased ratings lead to increased advertising revenue, which may help me in future contract negotiations with TSN. There is no “I” in team, but there is one in Duthie.
So here’s the best-case Eastern Conference scenario:
PITTSBURGH (1) VS WASHINGTON (8)
I already blogged about this a few weeks back when it was a long shot. The shot gets shorter every day. To have the two most entertaining players in the game (maybe the three if you include Malkin) going at each other for two weeks is hockey’s perfect playoff storm.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The Stars are a different team without Sergei Zubov – that’s all there is to it.
Zubov averages more than 25 minutes a game and plays like nobody else in the NHL. He is supremely confident with the puck on his stick and he almost dares opponents to come at him on the forecheck, knowing that can only help him get the defense off of its game.
So if he cannot play in the playoffs because of a foot injury or groin injury or some other injury, the Stars will not be as good.
from the CP via Yahoo,
“You can’t expect guys to be jumping out of their boots here because we need help,” coach Alain Vigneault said when asked about the mood in the dressing room after the Cancks no longer controlled their playoff destiny.
“That being said, we need to help ourselves.”
Helping themselves means winning at home Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers and Saturday in the regular-season finale against the Calgary Flames.
Otherwise they’re out of the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
From Boston Bruins.com’s Rinkside Chats,
Katie_From_ME: Since your injury, what is the one thing that you miss most about playing?
P_Bergeron: First and foremost, I’ve missed everything about the game. Being around the guys, being part of the action and part of the game and helping the team win. It’s tough sitting around and watching the team play and not being able to help.
Stockfan42: Patrice, what are the odds of seeing you suited up for the playoffs?
P_Bergeron: Not sure yet, I still have some doctors to see. I am not cleared for contact yet but I’m hoping to continue to make progress and get back as soon as I can.
via the Carolina Hurricanes,
Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, announced today that the team has activated center Matt Cullen from injured reserve. Cullen, who has missed the team’s last seven games with a head injury, is eligible to play in tonight’s game against TampaBay.
NEW YORK (April 2, 2008) – Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who backstopped the team to its first division title since 1992, posting a 7-3-0 record, 2.67 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout, has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for March.
Price edged Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner (6-9—15 in 15 games), Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (5-9—14 in 14 games), Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (4-10—14 in 15 games) and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Eric Ersberg (5-4-2, 2.31 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, two shutouts) for the award.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
NHL players pay lip service to the fact that a win in October is as important as a win in December, which is as important as a win in early April, but you never get the sense they actually believe it — or until they arrive at the final week and find themselves with just enough of a cushion to sneak into the playoffs.
Take the NHL’s Western Conference race for example. If playoffs were determined only by how a team finished up, then the Edmonton Oilers would be on their way to the post-season, thanks to their wonderfully entertaining surge of the past seven weeks, which came after injuries to Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, Ethan Moreau and others looked as if it would doom them to the conference cellar again.
Today, the Minnesota Wild’s head coach Jacques Lemaire was made available by way of a NHL teleconference. With 95 points the Wild sit in first place in the Northwest Division, two points ahead of Colorado and three ahead of the Calgary Flames, who they host tomorrow night. A victory would guarantee a division championship and home ice in at least in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Here’s the transcript of Lemaire’s Q&A session.
Q. Jacques, one of the things I noticed about your team is how good your record is in special teams play and how important that’s been during the regular season. I’d like you to comment on the power play. You’re eighth best in the league, penalty killing second best in the league. How much has that influenced your success this season and how important will it be in the playoffs versus the regular season?
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.
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