Kukla's Korner Hockey
By Patrick Hoffman In the first of six installments, I will look at the goaltending in each division of the National Hockey League. Let’s start out in the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference. Will Martin Brodeur be dethroned? Will this finally be the year in which Rick DiPietro provides consistent goaltending out on the Island? Will there be a goaltending controversy down in Philly? Will the Penguins future suddenly become the present? Will Henrik Lundqvist follow up last season’s performance with an even better sophomore season? All this and more in: A Look from the Atlantic. New York Rangers The Rangers were one of the top defensive teams in the NHL, finishing fourth out of 30 teams. Many hockey pundits would say that everything went through “Route 68” but if one was to dig a bit deeper, they would find that the goaltending of Vezina Trophy finalist Lundqvist was the big reasons that the lights were up on Broadway this past season. Lundqvist posted stellar numbers this past season as he won 30 games, posted a miniscule goals against average of 2.24 and had a sparkling .922 save percentage. Ranger fans have not seen this kind of goaltending since Mike Richter reigned the Rangers goal for 13 seasons. Lundqvist struggled down the stretch as he tried to play through a hip injury and that certainly cost the Rangers a victory in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New Jersey Devils. However, look for Lundqvist to come back stronger than ever and look for him to prove that last year was no fluke. Kevin Weekes holds the title of backup goaltender for the Rangers. Weekes had 14 wins while posting a 2.95 goals against average and a .895 save percentage. Weekes struggled at home this season, often drawing the well-known boo birds of Madison Square Garden. However, he stole some games on the road for the team and provided some quality goaltending when Lundqvist needed a rest. For him to succeed this season, he must cut down on the softies he lets up and be a bit more consistent on home ice when he is given the chance to do so. New Jersey Devils After a slow start and some problems adjusting to the new rules, Martin Brodeur went onto win over 40 games (43) once again while posting 2.57 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He was one of the main reasons that the Devils got so hot towards the end of the season to help them clinch the Atlantic division. Look for him to play between 55-70 games. The backup goaltending duties for the Devils have yet to be established. Last season, that role belonged to Scott Clemensen, as he won three games, had a 3.35 goals against average and posted a .881 save percentage. With Brodeur playing the majority of the games, you would expect his backup to be quite rusty. However, there are rumors floating around that former Devils goaltender Mike Dunham will sign with the club. He would certainly be an upgrade over youngster Clemensen.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
If the Canucks want to hold onto Kesler at the end of this season, they must extend him a qualifying offer of $1.9 million. That qualifying offer can be used as a comparable by other Group 2 players who file for salary arbitration. ''So the going rate for a young 10-goal scorer in this league is going to $1.9 million,'' an NHL GM said. ''We're starting a whole new inflation spiral. It's going to cost every team in this league. It's bad for all us. It's really bad business.'' Another GM said he could understand the Flyers' offer sheet tactic if the Canucks were unable to fit Kesler's $1.9 million under the salary cap, but that apparently is not the case. Sources suggest Kesler's figure of $1.9 million will take Vancouver to $43 million for 22 players – that's $1 million under the cap and one player under the 23-man roster limit.more..on the crazy Tuesday...
from the New York Islanders,
The Islanders have signed forward Viktor Kozlov to a one-year contract. Last season with the New Jersey Devils, the 6-5, 230-pound center/right wing had 12 goals and 13 assists in 69 games and was 8 for 12 in the shootout. "Viktor brings a lot to the table," said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. "He can be a center or wing on any of our top three lines and be solid in all zones. This is an excellent addition for our team as we head into training camp."
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Mario Lemieux specialized in the spectacular throughout his time in the NHL, but the final act of his playing career will be decidedly low-key. The Penguins, at Lemieux's request, will not stage an extravagant ceremony to re-retire his No. 66 sweater. Instead, the sweater will be returned quietly to its previous place of honor near the Mellon Arena roof shortly before the Penguins' regular-season home opener against Philadelphia Oct. 5. And while there likely will be some sort of acknowledgement -- perhaps a spotlight on the number, accompanied by video highlights of Lemieux -- the night of the Flyers game, there will be a minimum of fuss and fanfare.
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Is Keith Tkachuk in shape? One season removed from a team-imposed suspension, Tkachuk is in tip-top shape, according to his longtime trainer, Nelson Ayotte. Tkachuk is visibly leaner and teammates who have skated with him in the offseason say he looks a step faster on the ice. This is a big season for the Blues forward, who scored 36 points in 41 games last year. He will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.more questions answered about the Blues...
from Greg Wyshynski at the Fourth Period,
The league began on ponds but soon moved to arenas, although the Coloured League wasn't exactly given V.I.P. treatment — games were held late at night and late in the season, so ice surfaces were lousy. The quality of the hockey, however, was not. "The caliber of hockey was just awesome," said Fosty. "In some of these accounts, people are saying it's some of the best hockey they've seen played." It was a wide-open style, in contrast to the controlled and conservative play of some of the all-white leagues of the day. Many of the innovations from the Coloured League were quickly co-opted by white players around the region — like suburban high school basketball players stealing moves they saw on a city playground.read on
from Mark Spector of Canada.com,
To Gary Bettman, whom it is widely believed vetoed a similar contract attempt last season, Wang is a danger. Wang becomes Bettman's first rogue owner after the tiny perfect commissioner had finally reined in those among his group who have more money than brains. On Monday, the ceiling on long-term deals was seven years. Yesterday, it became 15. As other owners follow suit, eating up 2020's salary cap quota long before 2010 has even begun, Bettman can see the horsemen gathering on the horizon, a growing cadre of owners who would aim to push the salary cap ever higher. While the Islanders were announcing DiPietro's deal yesterday, the Philadelphia Flyers were breaking the collusive drought on tendering offer sheets to other teams' restricted free agents, going after Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. The Canucks later indicated they would match the Flyers' offer. By then, though, it was clear that the 30 owners who joined hands to bury the NHLPA just 12 months ago have once again set out in their own self-interest.more
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
There is also going to be a change in the way the Wings play at certain times. The Oilers' trapping prevented the Wings from playing their puck-possession style, so coach Mike Babcock wants to be ready with a chip-and-chase option. "We think we can be a very hard-working team that plays with real good pace, that moves the puck from the back end -- but in saying that, we'd like to become a harder fore-checking team, too," Babcock said. "When we're in a situation where we're unable to carry it in and have possession, (we want to) lay it in and go get it and be a harder fore-checking team. We won't play like that all the time, but we want to have an alternative if what we do is taken away."much more...including why Hasek...
from the News & Observer,
The news that Frantisek Kaberle will miss most if not all of the season after shoulder surgery Monday still was echoing through the dressing room at the RecZone a day later as the Hurricanes went through one of their final optional workouts before the opening of training camp. It's a huge blow, one made all the more difficult because the Hurricanes thought Kaberle would be able to avoid surgery altogether. Instead, his absence will leave a gaping hole on defense when training camp opens Friday.read on
from the Daily News Journal,
If the Predators did not make it into the black previously, how do they intend to do so now when they're paying their players so much more? The answer that seems most plausible is that Leipold has given up on the notion of turning an annual profit in the hope of unloading the franchise for something far beyond the $80 million expansion fee he paid for it and to walk away with some measure of ultimate financial gain. The best way to do that is to spend now.... All of this, of course, is speculation. Leipold has not said he plans to sell the franchise he founded. Another possibility is that the owner simply has decided to ignore the bottom line and make an all-out effort to finish on top. Nah, that couldn't be it. Could it?more
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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