Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
- Cam Ward, Mike Smith, Kari Lehtonen, and Antti Niemi are examples of well-paid goalies who are not doing enough to earn their salaries. At his current pace, Jimmy Howard may join that group. The ex-Maine Black Bear, under contract with the Red Wings through 2019 at nearly $5.3 million annually, is not up to his previous standard of play following a groin injury. Howard missed most of January and part of February. He’s been struggling to catch up. On Thursday, Howard was pulled after letting in three goals on 10 shots to San Jose. Petr Mrazek, who relieved Howard, could be the starter in the playoffs at this rate. Detroit is a good team. But below-average goaltending will sink anybody in the playoffs.
- Dougie Hamilton has missed four games because of an undisclosed injury suffered March 21 against Florida. The Bruins remain optimistic that Hamilton will return before the end of the regular season. They could use his three-zone presence. This has been a strong third NHL season for Hamilton (10-32—42, 21:20 of ice time per game). Hamilton’s growth only increases the odds that a desperate team such as Edmonton will sign him to an offer sheet. The Bruins will match at any price, but an offer sheet of $6 million annually would throw off the Bruins’ budget. They’d prefer to sign him to a second contract more in line with what Minnesota gave Jonas Brodin ($4,166,667 per season over six years). This may be wishful thinking.
more hockey topics...
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
So, how to bring back the scoring? Cutting down the size of goalie equipment would be the place to start, but that has become a fool’s discussion. The league has talked about it for nearly 20 years, the goalies have pushed back, and tiny nips and tucks have led to status quo offensive stifling. The goalies won’t give up their pads and the Lords of the Boards don’t have the temerity or common sense to stand up to the puck-stopping brotherhood who have taken the game’s offense hostage. Sad, really.
I see two ways out of this:
1. Maintain the icing standard throughout the game. If a team must kill a penalty, it gets no relief — it must play the puck just as if the sides had equal manpower. No question it will result in more power-play goals. The team that committed the penalty will suffer the consequences. How novel. As of late last week, 22 of the league’s 30 teams failed to score on more than 80 percent of their power plays.
2. Borrow from lacrosse’s rulebook a bit and prohibit clubs from skating five players in their defensive end during five-on-five play. In this scenario, the team that advances the puck into the attacking zone will have five skaters battling against four skaters and one goalie. That sounds like even strength to me. Truth is, under current rules, all clubs are really shorthanded in the attack zone during five-on-five, with five skaters opposed by five skaters and one goalie (who wears the pads of nearly two skaters). We call that an even deal?
For a game that often appears to be in a state of mayhem, with players darting around faster than ever before, there rarely is much mayhem around the net. Passing and shooting lanes are typically sealed up, and goalies, overpadded and too influential in the game’s outcome, too easily prevent fat rebounds. The two changes suggested here would bring on the mayhem.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
- There is one way to avoid the sad spectacle of dumping teams playing dump games at this time of the year, and that is to freeze the standings relating to lottery seeding at the trade deadline.
- The more numbers and the more information the better, but I will allot more value to the points-per-60-minutes stat when players begin to play 60 minutes a game.
- Sidney Crosby is an outstanding player, but is anyone honestly trying to suggest he is having a better season than Ryan Getzlaf? Stop. Just stop.
- Boy, that Tom Wilson of the Caps has sure made a splash in the NHL, hasn’t he?
It will take you 5 1/2 minutes to watch the highlights....
These kinds of articles are so superb that you can only begin at the beginning, and this one from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Dan O'Neill is a helluva read:
The way Scotty Bowman sees it, three components turned the St. Louis Blues into Stanley Cup finalists during their first three seasons. One was goaltender Glenn Hall. One was a trade to acquire Red Berenson and Barclay Plager.
And one was Al Arbour.
“He was the toughest competitor, most courageous player I ever coached,” Bowman said. “He was the guy all the young players looked up to.”
Alger Arbour now leans on every bit of that resilience and fortitude. He is being treated for Parkinson’s disease and dementia near his home in Sarasota, Fla. He has difficulty with balance, with recollection and with words. He is in hospice care. The prognosis is dire.
But you can count on one thing. Arbour will battle, as he did as a defenseman for the Blues, as he did throughout a career in which he has been with teams that won the Stanley Cup eight times, representing four cities. The fact one of those locations isn’t St. Louis is a pockmark on a franchise that is without a championship 48 seasons into its existence.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch offers his usual amount of rumors in a Sunday column discussing scoops from around the league, but on an evening that even the New York Times profiled Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, Garrioch's most interesting tidbit involves the "TankGate" situation. According to Garrioch, the league is pretty peeved by the Sabres and Coyotes' rather blatant attempts to finish lowest in the league:
“It’s embarrassing,” a league executive said.
The battle for No. 1 pick Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters has been one that teams have been watching all season. For the most part, the Sabres have been sitting in last place, but once the Coyotes cleared the deck at the trade deadline they’ve really gone downhill.
“You can’t blame the teams involved because there is a reward for failure and that’s the highest odds in the lottery,” said the executive. “Maybe you need to change the lottery to give all the teams that miss the playoffs an even chance at the No. 1 pick, or not weight it so much. Who knows?”
The league did change the lottery that gives the team that finishes last only a 20% chance at the No. 1 pick so there has been a major move. Now, they can’t fall below No. 2 so if they don’t win it’s not that big a loss. Perhaps, the league needs to take a second look.
Garrioch continues with a cornucopia of rumors...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- The Leafs don’t care to share their wish list for a future head coach but here’s a decent guess of where they’re heading: 1. Mike Babcock; 2. Todd McLellan; 3. Bruce Boudreau; 4. Dave Tippett; 5. Ken Hitchcock; 6. Peter DeBoer; 7. Paul MacLean. Not necessarily on the list, for some reason: Dan Bylsma.
- Amazing how stuff turns out: Dallas GM Jim Nill wanted to sign Vinny Lecavalier before he ended up signing in Philadelphia. Now the Flyers want Vinny out, badly. Had Nill signed him, he never would have traded for Tyler Seguin.
- This is easy: Now that Chris Pronger is eligible for Hall of Fame voting, he’s a sure-thing for first-ballot induction this year. The Class of 2015 will include Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov and if the Hall finally gets it right it will add the surprisingly forgotten Sergei Makarov.
Topics discussed tonight by Don Cherry and Ron MacLean include....
Don Cherry was not happy with the refs in the first period of Toronto/Ottawa.
Next up was Cherry pointing out to young players to make sure you keep your stick on the ice, using the LA Kings as an example.
Cherry tells us why Scott Hartnell wears #43.
Up next was the play of "Jimmy Slater" of the Winnipeg Jets then Steve Ott was pointed out as being a momentum changer.
Then Don Cherry talked about the Leafs bringing in a college guy instead a top player from the Marlies.
Cherry closed with some OHL Cup talk.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
While the spotlight entering the final two weeks of the NHL regular season is focused squarely on the enticing playoff races in both conferences, there are a handful of general managers and coaches who are primed for a blindfold and last cigarette.
And the reading of the last rites, of course.
Indeed, there is no shortage of men who are playing out the string over the next 14 days, all the while knowing that their tenure with their respective teams is coming to an inevitable end.
Whether it be the Leafs, Sharks, Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Sabres, Blues, etc., there are axes being sharpened throughout the league, poised to come down as part of various housecleanings going on from coast to coast.
And, according to one Eastern Conference executive, the catalyst for many of the ensuing moves could be Mike Babcock.
continued with a look at teams who could use Mike Babcock's services...
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.
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