Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Matt Higgins at the New York Times,
Last season, teams scored 3.0 goals a game, up from 2.58 in 2003-4, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Fast, skilled teams like the Sabres thrived, providing flashbacks to the pretrap era of the 1980s.
But this season, scoring has steadily edged downward. Through Sunday, teams averaged 2.90 goals.
How much of that can be traced to the trap?
“Everybody, whether they trap, has a checking scheme in the neutral zone,” said Colorado Coach Joel Quenneville, whose team sometimes created a human wall against Buffalo by putting four players across its blue line.
via Russo’s Rants,
Niklas Backstrom is your No. 1 goaltender.
That was the news of the day coming after this afternoon’s practice from gorgeous Vancouver.
...Jacques said the team is playing too well to fiddle with it. He says he wants to see how far this team can go with Backstrom at the helm. Obviously things can change if the team goes south.
But Lemaire said Manny Fernandez will play when the Wild can’t gain any more and/or the teams around the Wild take off either direction.
He also alluded to his dissatisfaction with Fernandez’s effort in practices recently. Manny wasn’t in the talking mood today.
from the CP via the Hockey News,
The gap between Denis and Holmqvist hasn’t widened much since. Both have had hot and cold runs this season in Tampa and Tortorella has made it clear that he hasn’t decided who will be the starter in the playoffs.
Denis currently seems to hold the upper hand. He’s posted consecutive wins over Edmonton and Calgary and expects to get the start on Tuesday night in Toronto.
But he knows he’s only as good as his next game.
from Stan Fischler at the Hockey Journal,
• In the view of some analysts, Mario Lemieux is getting off easy with his demand that his Penguins get a new arena or go bye-bye. “If his club could sell out The Igloo every night of the season – and it could with Crosby and Malkin – he could make enough dough to say,” one observer of the NHL fiscal scene opines. “Sure Mario would make more with a new building and all those luxury boxes but he’s just being greedy. The Penguins could survive right where they are now – if Lemieux was really interested in keeping them in Pitt.”
• Commenting on the NHLPA upheaval, Bill Wirtz tells us that the Union would benefit from studying the good side of Alan Eagleson’s Association leadership: “Alan Eagleson put it in the union constitution that the players must be issued annual financial statements certified by PriceWaterhouse….
from Wes Goldstein at CBS Sportsline,
Given up for dead as the All-Star Game approached, Florida has dramatically turned things around over the past six weeks, going 12-5-3 to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. After a near-sellout crowd saw them beat Southeast Division co-leader and rival Atlanta on Saturday for the first time in seven tries, the Panthers find themselves just five points shy of the eighth and final postseason seed with 13 games remaining.
“I’m sure a lot of people have written us off, but in here, we’ve never thought we’re out of it,” said forward Nathan Horton. “Obviously, it took us longer than we wanted to get things going, but we feel good about things and now we’re making our push.”
Alex Ovetjkin finds a unique interview with Donald Brashear,
DUBINA : Is it true that Joey Kocur had a punch of horrendous blow force? Have you ever fought him?
A. Yes, once I had a scrap with Joey. I tried to stand for him, but he was punching and punching me. Kocur was hitting me in the helmet like a power hammer and in the end the helmet split! I remember the next day I had a terrible pain, my gums on the left side of my head were hurting even though he was hitting me on the right side of my face. I couldn’t chew anything. I wonder what it would be if I did not have a helmet? Too scary.
NEW YORK (March 12, 2007) – NHL Interactive Cyber Enterprises (ICE), the digital arm of the National Hockey League (NHL), today announced NHL Network’s signature show NHL On The Fly: Final—now airing in Canada—will be made available for the first time in the United States online at NHL.com. The hockey highlight show will be offered for free through the Stanley Cup Final.
from Allan Muir at Sports Illustrated,
Whoever takes the job must be someone who enjoys the respect of everyone in the union, and who understands the players’ priorities. Ideally, it will be someone who can build some bridges and get the players back on the same page.
That guy might be Bobby Orr.
Would Orr want that kind of aggravation? He hasn’t said. And he’s certainly not the sort of man who’d campaign for a job while someone else was still warming the chair. But his candidacy would boast a lot of favorable factors.
NEW YORK (March 12, 2007)—New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Chicago Blackhawks left wing Jeff Hamilton and San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending March 11.
Each Monday, the NHL will recognize three players who delivered the League’s top performances over the past week.
FIRST STAR—HENRIK LUNDQVIST, G, NEW YORK RANGERS
Lundqvist posted a 3-0-1 record in four games with a 1.43 goals-against average and .948 save percentage as the Rangers (34-27-8, 76 points) moved into the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Lundqvist posted consecutive victories over the New York Islanders, making 29 saves in a 2-1 home shootout victory March 5 and 30 stops in a 2-1 win at Long Island March 8. He made 20 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss at Pittsburgh March 10 and finished the week by stopping 30 of 31 shots and both shootout attempts in a 2-1 decision over Carolina March 11. Lundqvist is 8-2-4 in his past 14 games, recording a 1.65 GAA and a .935 save percentage in that span.
from Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated,
I’ve been to Nashville many times over the years and always enjoy my time in the city. Now, this isn’t a travelogue piece, but my schedule brought me there over the weekend and I decided to spend my time as a diehard hockey fan. I took in two Predators games, multiple youth hockey games, and even went to the team’s Friday optional skate at their local practice rink.
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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