Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Who knew Tuesday night's Ducks-Leafs game would bring together the two hottest teams in the NHL? Well, that the NHL-leading Ducks have won seven straight is no surprise at all, given that they were a popular preseason pick to contend after winning the Pacific Division in the regular season last year. But the Maple Leafs? They've gone 9-1-1 since being crushed 9-2 at home by Nashville back on Nov. 18.
They've had terrific special teams and solid goaltending, but what's really caught everyone's attention here is the depth of their balanced attack. That Joffrey Lupul is playing on the third line right now underscores that depth. The second line led by center Nazem Kadri, playing between Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli, has been sensational.
The Leafs are now right there with Tampa Bay, Detroit and Montreal in the fight for the Atlantic Division lead. Putting away points in the standings during this stretch might have saved their season, given that the Leafs depart for a seven-game road trip starting Sunday in Chicago as the world junior championships take over the Air Canada Centre.
read on for Burnside on the Lightning, Custance on the Oilers and Strang on Slava Voynov...
Something needs to change, and if it isn’t a blockbuster trade, maybe it’ll be as simple as landing a highly regarded prospect such as Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 NHL entry draft.
Fans may ponder the long-term benefits of that, and team officials may, in their most private moments, wish for that, too. From his perspective, MacTavish cannot. He needs to prove to Katz that this team, his baby, is heading in the right direction. Otherwise, he will be like Eakins, looking for a new opportunity.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail where you can read more on the Edmonton Oilers.
Two minutes of highlights this morning.
from Rich Chere of NJ.com,
The call? A slashing minor.
“Zid stepped up in the neutral zone on him with a clean hit,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “It looked from the bench like (Tavares) speared him. I don’t know why it was a slashing call.”
Zidlicky confirmed he was speared.
“I don’t think that was necessary what he did,” the defenseman said.
Was he hurt?
“A little bit the first couple of seconds. He hit my stomach,” Zidlicky said. “I’m okay.“
more on the game... and video of the spear is below...
Because TSN doesn't give us nearly enough Bob McKenzie thanks to the NHL's new TV deal with both Sportsnet and McKenzie's TSN = a whole hell of a lot of geo-blocking videos, here's 2:35 of McKenzie talking about the NHL's mumps outbreak with NBCSN's Kathryn Tappen (via Pro Hockey Talk's Dhiren Mahibian).
McKenzie explains that Sidney Crosby had already suffered damage to his salivatory gland thanks to a scrap with Riley Nash, so that was the reason that the Penguins allowed him to meet with the media--and he does a superb job of explaining why childhood immunizations aren't 100% effective:
My hope is that the NHL's teams, which are finally providing booster shots to players, coaches and team personnel (from a Wings perspective, it was fascinating to hear Mike Babcock's lecture on the subject because he revealed that many European players don't get the mumps-measles-ruebella vaccine) will be fitting the bill for booster shots for the media.
Working with NHL players = understanding that you're going into an environment in which massive amounts of physical activity, sweaty equipment, heavy travel schedules and workloads for everybody and everyone bringing in the germs of any school-age kids to a giant petri dish of handshakes, coughing, spitting, sweating and talking in close proximity...
But the fact that this virus can be passed on while people aren't displaying symptoms + vaccine success rates in the 85% range = there's significant risk for not only the NHL's family, but also the families of the people who cover the team. Prophylactic immunization of all adults interacting regardless of employer makes the most sense here in terms of nipping this damn thing in the bud.
USA Today's Ted Berg spoke with the producers of Epix' version of The Road to the Winter Classic, and I guess this was inevitable...
In a small, dark room in lower Manhattan, Fritz Mitchell stares at a computer monitor as video editors tap away on computer keyboards, cuing up footage of Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
Leonsis, interviewed in an otherwise empty hockey arena, is discussing the progress of his team's most recognizable star — forward Alex Ovechkin — and so animatedly sings the veteran's praises that Mitchell and his crew struggle to find "room tone," the arena's background hum, a note necessary for seamlessly splicing together the highlights of the interview.
"(Leonsis) seems approachable, like a regular guy," says Mitchell, a producer on the fourth season of Road to the NHL Winter Classic, which debuts [Tuesday] on Epix at 10 ET.
"We're going to make him a character," says executive producer Ross Greenburg from a couch a few feet away.
But the fact that Epix' folks claim that they want the players and coaches to "forget the cameras" after the level of--if you'll pardon me for being a blunt Red Wings fan--"embedded" journalism in HBO's 24/7 had become post-Bryzgalov guerilla journalism, i.e., "Let's try to find someone else who's wild" to the point that Mike Babcock and Ken Holland finishing each other's sentences and Todd Bertuzzi drinking beer may have been the most "human" moments of a 247 that had the Wings and Leafs stumbling their way through a December spent trying not to embarrass themselves, or be embarrassed for exploitative purposes:
The Edmonton press has always impressed me because it so exhaustively analyzes its team's performance (as you probably know, they were figuring out "fancy stats" a decade ago), and their passion seems to reflect the passion of the team's fan base. It's hard to watch the Oilers go through such an incredibly difficult period of time because you know that the bad times are going to be exhaustively analyzed...
And while writing all but a novel about the Oilers' firing of coach Dallas Eakins' this evening, the Edmonton Journal's Terry Jones simply could not afford to not "go there" and wonder whether the installation of GM Craig MacTavish as coach while Oklahoma City Barons coach Todd Nelson slowly but surely takes over = no "Failing For McDavid"--which, sadly enough, might have been the best thing for the Oilers to do:
The trouble with the move is that the “new coach spikes” could effectively result in the Oilers not finishing 30th overall and take themselves out of the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes with Jack Eichel as a consolation prize if somebody else won the draft lottery.
With a generational player (or two) out there, this is not a year to finish 26th instead of 30th. The Oilers already ended up with Sam Gagner instead of Patrick Kane because they went and won the last game of a regular season.
“It’s not in anybody’s DNA in professional sports to talk about that or to try and do that,” said MacTavish. We’re very much trying to turn the performance level of the hockey club around. Certainly our draft status had no bearing on this.”
The Lightning lost to the Penguins 4-2 on Monday night and has dropped four of its past five.
But its biggest loss might have been goaltender Ben Bishop, who left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury. The severity of the injury is unknown, but with two back-to-backs this week, including tonight in Philadelphia, the Lightning could call up touted prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy or Kristers Gudlevskis.
Veteran Evgeni Nabokov replaced Bishop to start the second and gave up two goals to the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins, who have beaten the Lightning 10 straight times (8-0-2) since 2011.
Back to Bishop. Losing him for any period of time would be a big blow. A Vezina Trophy finalist last season, Bishop entered Monday 16-6-2 with a 2.34 goals against average. Calling up [Andrei] Vasilevskiy could make sense, as he's coming off AHL player of the week honors after back-to-back shutouts with Syracuse.
Update: Uh oh, the groin:
The only time they (Edmonton Oilers) contend is in the draft lottery.
-Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal talking Oilers on Sportsnet's Prime Time Sports tonight.
from Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen,
Melnyk’s media availability touched on a range of topics, including his new head coach, Dave Cameron, and the always popular discussion of team payroll.
On the latter, Melnyk happily defended his club’s 30th rank in team payroll (about $56 million) and suggested that will grow quite naturally.
“Look, everybody keeps talking about money, money, money,” Melnyk said. “I keep telling everybody, take a look at all these big signings that have happened in the last couple of years. We’re looking like the smart ones.
“I’m not the least bit embarrassed at us spending at the bottom,” Melnyk added. “I’m happy about it because we’ll be able to spend more in the future. Some can’t. Some are stuck.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org