Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

It Is Different Now

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

It used to be that simply scoring first in a playoff game meant that team would emerge the winner almost all of the time. Well, the '06 playoffs have turned into the Spring of the Comeback. In 41 playoff games going into last night, the team that didn't score first won the game on 15 occasions, a success rate of 37 per cent. Well, teams are no longer locks to win after scoring first. Moreover, teams have fallen behind after 20 minutes and come back to win on eight occasions. Trailing after two periods, teams have fought back to triumph six times.
more

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The East Is Set

Round 2 matchups will be Ottawa/Buffalo and Carolina/New Jersey. The schedule has not been relaese yet but it is great to see the top 4 teams in the east make it to the conference semi-finals. Oh yes, Flyer fans can't be a happy bunch. In the last hour or so I have had about 35 searches directed to KK with the terms "fire Hitchcock". added 11:21pm, from the Courier Post,

Two days ago, Ken Hitchcock was asked if the Buffalo Sabres' top 12 forwards were simply more talented than the Flyers' from top to bottom. "That's a question for July or August," he responded. "Not now." Now is upon the Flyers. After weeks of denying the obvious, the Flyers will spend the next several days trying to figure out how to transform themselves from the old NHL to the new. It won't be easy.
continued

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Yzerman Almost Retired Mid-Season

I hope most of the KK readers understand there may be more than the usual posts on Yzerman in the next week or so. His retirement talk is huge here in Detroit and I am sure many fans of the NHL have an interest too. from the Detroit Free Press via the Mercury News,

Steve Yzerman says he knows what he'll do. And for once, the mysterious legend is easy to figure out: The Captain plans to retire. If you think Yzerman is coming back for a 23rd season, understand this: He almost didn't finish his 22nd. Yzerman came close to retiring in the middle of this season. A lot closer than most people realize. How close? One game away. According to two people familiar with his thinking, Yzerman had serious discussions with the Red Wings about retiring in late November. He even had a final game in mind: Dec. 1 at home against Calgary.
more added 8:03am Wednesday, Free Press link now availabe...

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Sutter Does Standup

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

After not trying very hard in front of the microphone for the first six games of the National Hockey League playoffs, Calgary Flames' coach Darryl Sutter conspicuously made himself the centre of attention Tuesday. Henny Youngman would have been proud. Sutter worked the room like a good comedian does, dishing on a bon mot here and a sly observation there. He talked about the refereeing – and the fact that his team had been put two men short seven times in the series as opposed to zero for the opposition Anaheim Mighty Ducks (actually six, but who's counting). He complained about the 8 p.m. PST start time for Game 6, noting that for his older players, that meant 9 o'clock body time – “or when they're used to having their jammies on.”
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All American Boy

from the NY Times,

Low to the ice, skates flashing, hockey stick en garde, Chris Drury pursues a puck in the cynosure of the playoffs, and he does it with a lifetime's worth of tenacity. Drury's athletic success is extraordinary, if not unparalleled. As a youth, his Greater Bridgeport (Conn.) hockey team won the United States national amateur championship in 1989. Five months later, he hit and pitched his team from Trumbull, Conn., to the Little League World Series title with an upset of Taiwan. He won a state championship in hockey in high school but was not drafted until the third round, 72nd over all. In his first season at Boston University, the Terriers won the N.C.A.A. hockey championship. As a senior, he won the Hobey Baker Award as the best collegiate player in the nation.
read on

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Why the Oilers Won

from the CP via TSN,

There were a multitude of reasons for Edmonton's elimination of Detroit from the NHL playoffs, the most obvious being that the Oilers' energy simply wore down the older Red Wings. It helped the Oilers enormously to have a big edge in goaltending in the series. Dwayne Roloson faced 238 shots and stopped 221 for a .929 save percentage, while Detroit's Manny Legace faced 155 and stopped 137 for a .884 percentage.
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Deal Gone Bad

via E.J. Hradek of ESPN (Insider Information),

According to a league source, Detroit GM Ken Holland played a little "deal or no deal" with goalie Manny Legace earlier in the season. Playing the part of host Howie Mandel, Holland offered Legace a new contract worth $2.5 million. Legace, who earned $1.162 million this season, went the "no deal" route. Apparently, he was seeking something in the neighborhood of $4 million. Well, guess what? On Monday night in Edmonton, the big money came off the board.
added 6:32pm, Pretty ironic this story came out today too... from the CP via TSN,
If the first round of the NHL playoffs has shown anything, it's that signing a goalie isn't an exact science. Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov got huge contract extensions during the season and their teams didn't get much bang for their buck in the post-season. Turco struggled as Dallas was upset by Colorado. Nabokov lost his starting job before the playoffs even began as San Jose rode Vesa Toskala into the second round.
read on for the goalie situation around the league...

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Split-Screen Night

Only Center Ice game today is Carolina/Montreal. The Sabres/Flyers game is on OLN but as of yet not shown on the schedule below. image

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The End Is Here For Yzerman

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

In the spring of 2002, Yzerman returned after missing 30 games to injury and led the team with 23 points, second in overall playoff scoring, in spite of a badly damaged knee. Earlier this year, understanding his friend Wayne Gretzky was in an untenable position in selecting the Canadian Olympic team, Yzerman called and told Gretzky he wouldn't be available. At the time, many believed Yzerman would call it quits midseason, sidelined by injuries and seemingly out of place in the new NHL. But he bided his time and returned as the team's most dynamic player down the stretch and indeed in this disappointing first-round series. Even as his body began to break down, Yzerman continued to establish himself as perhaps the most recognizable sports figure in a sports-mad town. GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com earlier this year that in the end Yzerman will rival Gordie Howe as the town's brightest light. And make no mistake, the end is here.
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Foppa Can Influence The Game

Witnessing many a Colorado/Wings playoff matchup, I have watched Forsberg take over a game and a series. Does he have it in him to do it again? from Phil Coffey of NHL.com,

When the Flyers invested in Forsberg at the start of the regular season, they were banking on getting a big-time player who would deliver when the chips were down. And, so far, Forsberg has done just that. For fans in the East, seeing Forsberg during an entire season has been a revelation. He played his rookie season with the Quebec Nordiques before the franchise moved to Colorado, so many Forsberg moments came through video replays or word of mouth. Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, who saw plenty of Forsberg up close and personal when he coached the Dallas Stars, chuckles as he fields question after question about Forsberg's immense talents. "Remember, I've seen him for years in Colorado," Hitchcock said. "Having coached against him (in the West), this is the way he plays in the playoffs. It's not surprising."
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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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