Kukla's Korner

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It Is A Family Affair

AO's linemate and family...

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Bunched Up East

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

While it is safe to say the Toronto Maple Leafs have improved, they still have not escaped the great grey area in the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference. This is a list of seven teams — eight if you're not sure about the Buffalo Sabres — that could finish anywhere from sixth to 12th in the final standings. Aside from the Leafs, the teams are, in alphabetical order, the Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning. All of them, save the Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes, made improvements here and there, but there are still too many question marks for any of them to vault into the conference's top five.

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K & K

from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette,

They’ve been lumped together as the best of the Special K Kids, but rookie forwards Phil Kessel and Petr Kalus — both of whom appear to have cracked the Bruins’ season-opening lineup — are actually quite different as hockey players. Kessel is lightning fast with a fearsome hair-trigger shot and a flamboyant style, including offensive skills not often seen in a kid his age (he turns 19 next Monday). Kalus, also 19, is cut from more of a blue-collar cloth, an aggressive forechecker with something of an edge to his game, who skates his wing reliably and is hard to knock off the puck. Both survived yesterday’s cutdown from 36 healthy players to 24, and it’s likely both still will be around after any last-minute roster tinkering.

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A Different Goalie

from the Chicago Sun-Times,

The Blackhawks are seeing a new Nikolai Khabibulin in goal during their 5-0 start in preseason games. They're also going to see a new backup for him once the regular season begins on Oct. 5 in Nashville. Khabibulin is much better prepared for this season than he was for the last one, which followed the season-long NHL lockout. Khabibulin felt the pressure of signing a four-year, $27 million contract and missed 10 games with a pulled groin and 12 with a sprained knee. ''He looks really good and more poised in the net,'' coach Trent Yawney said. Khabibulin, who helped Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004, feels like a new man. ''I feel more settled and a little quicker,'' Khabibulin said. ''I had more practice before training camp, and that's helped.''
read on

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Jagr Cleaed For Practice

via the AP,

Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr has been cleared to practice for the first time since undergoing surgery on his dislocated left shoulder nearly five months ago. "We got a very good report from the doctor," said smiling New York coach Tom Renney after the Rangers lost 5-2 to the New York Islanders in a pre-season game last night. "He is ready for a full practice and everything that is involved with that." When pressed on whether that included contact drills, Renney repeated that the star forward can participate in all forms of practice. When Jagr might be able to play in a game will be determined by Renney and the rest of the coaching staff. Jagr will need to build up his endurance and practice time before taking the next step.

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Miller Makes The Calls

from the OC Register,

Hockey's Kings have come and gone, gotten traded, started All-Star careers here and skated from this ice into retirement. For more than three decades, Bob Miller has become friends with them all. The club's general managers have gotten hired and fired. So have the coaches. For the past 33 seasons, Miller knew them well, sat in their offices and listened. But the game, at least the one that Hockey Hall of Fame TV announcer Miller has called, hasn't really changed. When summer is over and September is slipping into October, "The Voice of the Kings" feels his thoughts sprint, and his hockey wordbank begs to pour into the headset. "When I'm not excited around this time of year, around August and September," Miller, 68, said, "I will know that it's time to bring the career to a close." On Monday, Miller will receive the 2,319th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Wacky Names

from the Toronto Sun,

Wacey Rabbit, assigned by the Boston Bruins to their AHL Providence farm club on the weekend, is definitely the moniker MVP. But Maple Leafs'rookie camp player Colton Yellow Horn definitely adds flair to any lineup. The Flyers once had Larry Goodenough; and he was for six seasons from 1974-80. At the naughty end of the spectrum, don't think L.A. Kings draft pick Yutaka Fukufuji doesn't have to be careful when someone asks what his last name is. Radek Bonk, Ron Tugnutt, Cory Pecker (Anaheim, Ottawa) and Robin Big Snake (Detroit, Nashville) sound a little like the credits for a blue movie rather than a hockey roster and Miroslav Satan must have had a devil of a time growing up until he found his imaginary friend: The letter "H."
In the KK Forums, there has been an ongoing discussion on this exact topic...

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Canes Not A Foreign Team

from the News & Observer,

One striking feature of the defending champions is the lack of European influence on their roster. The Canes had only five European players in camp, and one of them was hurt (Kaberle) and another left in the first wave of cuts (Czech defenseman Jakub Vojta, an unsigned 2005 draft pick). That leaves only Oleg Tverdovsky (Russia), Niclas Wallin (Sweden) and Anton Babchuk (Ukraine). "It's not like 15 years ago," Tverdovsky said. "It was a big thing having Europeans on the team. Now, hockey is pretty much catching up to NHL standards everywhere. Other countries are improving and North American hockey as well, taking some things from European hockey. Before, it was two styles: North American style and European style. Now, it's just one thing. If you're a good player, it doesn't matter where you're from."
read on

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Weight Returns

from the Belleville News-Democrat,

Veteran St. Louis Blues center Doug Weight will make his first preseason appearance Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. "I've been feeling good," said Weight, who gradually has increased his contact levels during practice. "No one around here's been trying to hit me either, so I've got to get in there and play." "He wants to get his timing down and things like that, which will be exciting for us," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "We'll watch his ice time of course early, let him get a feel for the game. But I think he has to get out there and get confidence, too, take a check and that kind of thing."

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Rubber Counting

VCOE is holding a contest with a Vancouver twist-

To kick start this site into gear again (the vacation screwed me up, I think) I have an easy contest for you: I want your bets on how many shots Roberto Luongo faces in October, his first real month as a Vancouver Canuck. Since the Legend of Luongo is built on how much rubber he faced in Florida (366 shots in October last season; an average of over 33 shots a game) I think it’s worth wondering if things will improve for him up here. And if so, how much? The prize is a $50 Gift Certificate to shop on NHL.com.
Since the Canucks play the Wings opening night, let me think, 65 shots the first game..... Now if every KK reader went there and submitted their prediction, we could keep Alanah very busy for a long time!

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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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