Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of Puck Rakers,
Given the Blue Jackets’ propensity to end “lost” seasons with strong finishes, this year’s marketing gimmick/slogan – “March With Us” – bears an unfortunate double entendre.
It was intended to be a call to fans, with a nod to the club’s Civil War nickname. But nobody does March quite like the Blue Jackets, and previous spring flings have served only to create false optimism and spoil draft picks.
(Maybe “October With Us” could be printed on t-shirts next fall?)
As this cynicism swirls around a club that has won one home playoff game in 15 seasons, the feeling in the Blue Jackets’ dressing room remains unchanged. You might say it remains professional.
The players and coaches won’t hear of tanking. In some cases, it angers them. With wins in four of their last five games – and points in five of their last six – the Blue Jackets believe their primed for a strong finish.
“All sports I think are always evolving but hockey’s so much different now, the pace of the game, the age of the players. When I came in the league there was third and fourth lines littered with 35- to 38-year-old guys. You had these old veterans on the team.
“Now it seems the opposite: They can’t wait to get these guys out.”
-Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Much more from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
Corey Crawford is the NHL's version of Manning. All he does, every season, is play rock-solid in goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, and every year there are those who question about just how good he is.
Like Manning, Crawford's numbers are impeccable. He has a .921 save percentage in the playoffs. He has two Stanley Cups. He's a workhorse -- no goalie has played more games this season than Crawford's 45. And yet, he's far down the list of players people want to credit for Chicago's success. Has his name ever even come up in a Vezina Trophy debate?
He's had his moments of meltdown -- again, just like Manning -- including last year's performance against the Nashville Predators in the playoffs. But he's resilient, always bounces back and deserves more credit than he receives. He doesn't always look pretty but he gets the job done. Kind of like Peyton.
more on this topic from LeBrun, Bursnide and McDonald...
LETANG, CROSBY POWER PENGUINS' LATE COMEBACK . . .
Down 2-0 in the final six minutes of regulation, the Penguins scored three unanswered goals – including the tying marker by Sidney Crosby (1-2—3) at 18:45 of the third period and winner by Kris Letang (2-1—3) at 1:27 of overtime – to rally for their fifth win in their last six outings.
* At 26-18-7 (59 points), the Penguins leapfrogged the Devils (26-20-7, 59 points) and Islanders (26-18-6, 58 points) into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
* According to Elias, excluding shootout victories, this marked the first time the Penguins won a game in which they trailed by two goals in the last six minutes of the third period since a 4-3 overtime win versus the Lightning on Feb. 4, 2009.
* Letang notched his third career overtime goal and first since Nov. 26, 2011 at Montreal. He has 9-29—38 in 41 games this season, including a trio of three-point outings.
* Crosby extended his point streak to 10 games (10-8—18), tied for the third-longest such run in the NHL this season. That includes at least one goal in six straight contests (8 G), equaling a career-high established Dec. 5-15, 2006 (6 G).
* Crosby also became the 13th active player to reach 900 career points (324-578—902). Via Elias, only 10 players in NHL history have reached 900 points in fewer games played than Crosby (677):
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
- While the San Jose Sharks went into Saturday with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10, that hasn’t stopped GM Doug Wilson from trying to make a change or two with his roster in an effort for a long playoff ride. As everybody knows, the Sharks can have any kind of regular season they want but it’s about having success in the playoffs and the word is Wilson has been telling his counterparts he’d like to get a defenceman if at all possible. The problem with Wilson is he can be difficult to deal with because he likes to kick tires but the heat is on him to make a move so he might be willing to pay whatever the market bears this season.
- The Carolina Hurricanes are closing in on a playoff spot but the word is centre Eric Staal is nowhere close to signing a new deal with the club and may get moved.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Saturday night, the Canucks dropped a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Flames, their fourth straight loss and third on home ice — which is alarming enough.
But it's only part of the story.
The Canucks might be five points back of third place in the Pacific Division, but they're also five points ahead of a group of teams which occupy the NHL cellar.
Here's something else to consider. After Saturday night's loss, there's exactly one NHL team with fewer wins than Willie Desjardins' team. The Toronto Maple Leafs have 19 wins on the season. The Canucks have 20.
It's about time they give up on the fantasy that this is a playoff team and start thinking about the deadline.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Sometimes, the video is hard to decipher. And sometimes, it shows an official blowing a call in hard-to-believe fashion in full high definition.
Such was the case Saturday night in TD Garden, as Brad Marchand scored on a penalty shot gifted by referee Brad Watson with 2:28 left in overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
After intercepting a Rasmus Ristolainen pass just outside the Buffalo blue line, Marchand tried to break into the Sabres’ zone. Ristolainen closed from Marchand’s left rear and the Boston center quickly lifted the Buffalo defenseman’s stick out of his hands into the air as the puck slid ahead of the pair. Ristolainen tried to put his right arm on Marchand and appeared to miss him before landing a two-hand shove to the back as goaltender Robin Lehner poke-checked the puck away.
Watson’s arm went up to signal a penalty and the Sabres were stunned to see him point to center ice. Marchand scored on the backhand and Lehner was among several Sabres barking at the officials after the goal ended the game. The goaltender even chucked his helmet to the ice in disgust.
Watch the sequence below...
added 11:54am, also added the Buffalo TV video below...
Team to watch over the next month: The Winnipeg Jets. They have to sign or trade Dustin Byfuglien and captain Andrew Ladd and will probably end up moving defenceman Jacob Trouba, who wants more money than they’re willing to pay.
-Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun where you can read a few more hockey related notes.
I imagine the Trouba talk will get the attention of a few teams and many fans. But I can't see the Jets not signing him.
Trouba will be a RFA on July 1st and GeneralFanager has all salary related information on Trouba.
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Winnipeg was up 3-1 after Stafford scored on a wrist shot through traffic at 10:37 of the second. Roy lodged a coach's challenge, arguing that Ladd had interviewed with Varlamov. After the post-video ruling that there wasn't goaltender interference and the goal stood, Roy was livid and drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct minor.
"They (said) Varly bumped into their player," Roy said. "I guess we didn't agree on that part. It was a tough call for sure. From my point of view, it's clear that (Ladd) made a step backward, or at least sideways, and that was just enough to prevent Varly from making the save."
more on the Avs 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
The Roy incident starts at the :40 second mark of this highlight package video...
Watch Roy post-game below...
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