Kukla's Korner

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The Altered NHL

from the Toronto Sun,

The regular season concludes tomorrow, separating 16 teams with a glint of Cup silver in their eyes from the 14 holding nothing but draft lottery tickets. Surviving clubs will bore you all week with quotes that the past 6 1/2 months were a meaningless dress rehearsal, but don't believe 'em. In the wake of a damaging lockout and commitment to radical change, the past 1,230 games have dramatically altered the National Hockey League. Here's a look back at a turbulent 2005-06 schedule:
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Life Is Great For Ovechkin

from the Montreal Gazette via the Star Phoenix,

Alexander Ovechkin, the NHL's hottest young property, showed he possesses a sly sense of humour, even working in a second language. Do his teammates play jokes on him? "Yes, they do." Are there any he could describe for publication? "No," he said. "But if you want to know, you can ask the other guys." No one in the NHL appears to enjoy himself more than Ovechkin. True, he is young and talented and wealthy, but so are dozens of other players who don't enjoy themselves half as much as he does. "I always try joking and try to do something funny," Ovechkin said. "I think, why not smile? Life is great right now, so smile."
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Pronger Seeing Red

from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,

Nobody wants to bend, fold and mutilate the Detroit Red Wings in a Stanley Cup playoff series more than Christopher R. Pronger. This is the 10th consecutive season he's made it into the playoffs. Half of them have involved series against the Detroit Red Wings. He's never won one. "I've had success everywhere else but in the playoffs,'' said Pronger. He came closest on his first try. "Detroit won in Game 7 in double overtime. That was my first taste of the playoffs. Losing in Game 7 in double overtime.'' Steve Yzerman scored the series winner. A year later the Red Wings won four games to two. It was a six-game series in 1998 and a five-game series in 2002. Three of those four years the Red Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup. "They always found a way to win,'' he said.
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Pick Your Opponent

from the Calgary Sun,

Conspiracy theorists, this is your big day. Those folks always on the lookout for nefarious schemes will have plenty of speculative fodder during tonight's Calgary Flames-Anaheim Mighty Ducks season-ending tilt There's essentially nothing on the line for Calgary. They can't move in the standings, have already claimed the Northwest Division crown and know when the playoffs begin Friday night in the Stampede City, they'll have home-ice advantage over the sixth seed in the Western Conference. What team that will be, however, will likely be decided in the outing at the Arrowhead Pond. As of this morning, Anaheim, currently holding that No. 6 spot in the Western Conference, has a one-point lead on Colorado. The Avalanche, playing in Edmonton tonight, has the tiebreaker if the clubs finish tied in the standings.
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The Key To The Rangers

from the Journal News,

The Rangers were off yesterday, but Lundqvist skated without restrictions both Friday and Saturday and anticipates a hard practice today. "It's going to be a lot of fun to be back on the ice and play and get ready for the playoffs," Lundqvist said. "It's important for me to get a game and get the timing going. Sometimes, it's good to get a break, and I feel very fresh. Hopefully, I get going right away." There's little doubt the Rangers will only go as far in the postseason as Lundqvist will take them, with all due respect to Jaromir Jagr's prodigious scoring ability.
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Fans Came Back In Anaheim

from the OC Register,

During every Mighty Ducks game at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, Tim Ryan, wearing his crisp suit and sharp necktie, walks. The Ducks' executive vice president and chief operating officer paces the concourse before the opening puck drops. He roams the arena during intermission. He talks to spectators, shakes hands and listens to the fans. "There used to be questions: Will the fans come back? Will the sport bounce back? How long will people remember the lockout?" Ryan said. His game-time walks answered those questions. Hearing the crowd roar, seeing the seats filled, the concessions busy and the Team Store cash register racing to take in another souvenir purchase, Ryan knows the playoff-charging Ducks have done their part to give CPR to the NHL.
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Nabokov Tries To Stay Positive

from the Contra Costa Times,

While the Sharks have charged into the postseason with a memorable surge, one of their most decorated players has been confined to a largely forgotten role. The Sharks have gone 16-3-2 since the trade deadline March 9, but goalie Evgeni Nabokov has played in just four of the games, going 2-2. "It's been pretty tough the last couple weeks," said Nabokov, who owns virtually every career goaltending mark in franchise history. "I just didn't expect that, to be honest with you. But I'm trying to stay positive, which is really tough. But what can you do? You know the team is playing well. There's nothing you can do about it. Just wait for the chance and be ready. That's about it."
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Crackdown Will Continue In Playoffs

from the National Post,

Before we start wondering whether or not the National Hockey League officials will make it through the playoffs without allowing the traditional rodeos and water-skiing competitions to break out, we should concede the zebras this much. It hasn't always been perfect, but the NHL's officials did not capitulate this time. The new levels of enforcement not only made it to Christmas, they've lasted -- give or take the odd night -- right through the end of the 2005-06 regular season. History told us it wouldn't happen but it did. So if you, like me, doubted the veracity of the NHL's crackdown on obstruction, then you, like me, were dead wrong.
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Fore

Buffalo beat Toronto today and something I have never withnessed happened. from the CP via TSN,

The game became somewhat chippy in the final period. Leafs' tough guy Tie Domi was ejected for being the aggressor in a fight with Jay McKee. Buffalo's Andrew Peters received a 10-minute misconduct after he made a golf swing-type gesture toward the Leafs bench with five minutes left. "It was disrespectful," Leafs defenceman Wade Belak said. "You don't need to do that. But it was nice to see the referee take action." Peters said he apologized to his teammates and Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano. "That wasn't something I was very proud of," Peters said. "It was just stupid. I got caught up in the moment."
image added 7:37am Monday, Want to check out a few videos from this game, wander over to Hockey Fights and take your pick. Remember to download the video by right clicking and then "save as".

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OT In The Playoffs

from Bob McKenzie of TSN,

Well, thankfully, no one of any influence is currently peddling that notion, so as we get set to begin the run to the Stanley Cup, we can be relatively secure in the knowledge that one of our game's great traditions - sudden death OT - is alive and well. But, you should know there is some concern about marathon OT sessions in the playoffs and how long they go. The marathon playoff games can be alternatingly exciting and tedious and as dramatically as they end, they can create havoc with everything from network TV schedules to teams' travel schedules and beyond.
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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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