Kukla's Korner Hockey
“Not many people watch the game. A lot of people just open up the Internet and look at the score sheet. They see my name, and I get zero [points]. They see that I make lots of money, and that I don’t produce. No one cares if I play well, or not. It is what it is. I just have to stay positive. I know that the coaches and upper management…they watch the games, so I just try to stay away from the Internet and try to stay away from what’s happening.
-David Krejci of the Boston Bruins. Read more from and about Krejci by Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.
Goals of the week...
from Shelly Anderson at ESPN,
He carries his goalie stick with him for this relatively new part of his pregame routine. Fleury tries to relax, thinks about the upcoming game, goes over how he wants to play. It's sort of a meditative pep talk, but he does not include his stick in the conversation.
"No, no," Fleury said, laughing. "I just feel lonely, so I want to have something [with me]. We don't talk that much. I talk more to the posts. Sometimes I bang on them, and sometimes they're good."
Fleury is goofy like that. He also is serious about his craft like that. A season of milestones is shaping up as a career year for Fleury, and while that has been a cause celebre, there is little question that there are critics lying in wait should the Pittsburgh goaltender falter, particularly in the playoffs.
A survey of social media, end-of-article reader comments, sports talk show calls and the like reveals that Fleury has taken a lot of blame for the Penguins' failure to win another Stanley Cup, or even return to the finals, following their 2009 championship. His playoff record since that Cup win is 21-22.
Certainly, there seems little to no room for harsh judgments this season. The Penguins are leading the Eastern Conference, and Fleury has been arguably their best and most consistent player, putting up Vezina-like numbers.
Coming out of the weekend, he ranked second in the NHL with 19 wins, fifth with a 1.97 goals-against average, tied for third with a .933 save percentage and first with six shutouts. He has already surpassed his career high for shutouts in a season and is one shy of tying Tom Barrasso's club record, and he is operating at a better pace than his career bests for a season of a .921 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average.
And so is the NHL, with five minutes of highlights from the past week, all in slow motion.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Can’t Always Be Jake: Seriously, it’s time for Randy Carlyle to quit pointing at Jake Gardiner every time he wants to scratch somebody. If Carlyle wants to make an impact, he could ask captain Dion Phaneuf to take a seat for a game. Lord knows, Phaneuf made enough mistakes on the weekend. Or Joffrey Lupul, who had some awful plays Saturday night. That would make an impact.
Additions Not Yet Adding: Anaheim’s having a great season despite injuries and despite the fact GM Bob Murray’s stop-gap acquisitions have yet to pay dividends. Ilya Bryzgalov, in two appearances, has a .789 save percentage and a 6.40 goals against average. Rene Bourque has one goal in 14 games since being added from Montreal. Defenceman Eric Brewer played two games after being acquired from Tampa and promptly broke his foot.
Frontline Sniper For Sale?: We’ll see if T.J. Oshie gets moved by the Blues when the trade freeze is listed in two weeks. Boston is said to have interest, and both St. Louis and the Bruins seem to have some interest in making a move. Oshie, however, has two more years at $4.175 million per season, and few teams want term. He’s an interesting player, but he’s now 27 and into his prime and has just five goals and seven assists this season.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
A month ago -- after a Nov. 26 loss to Calgary dropped them to 10-10-4 -- it felt like this might be a cross-roads season for the Sharks after a decade of being among the elite contenders in this league.
The sense was that last spring’s first-round meltdown to Los Angeles, the ensuing off-ice turmoil/drama, and the beginning of a rebuild-on-the-fly would see the Sharks take a step back this season.
Well, that’s how it felt around U.S. Thanksgiving, anyway.
But since that Nov. 26 loss to Calgary, the Sharks have reeled off nine wins in 10 games heading into Monday night’s big tilt at their rival Anaheim Ducks. And the rest of us are left to ponder what the heck we have here with this San Jose squad sitting at 19-11-4 and very much looking playoff-bound.
"It's been nice to be under the radar a little bit, but yeah, we have been playing well," Sharks star center Logan Couture told ESPN.com Monday morning from Anaheim.
from Rich Chere of NJ.com,
Michael Ryder is not yet to the point where he will ask Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello for a trade.
But if the Devils drop out of the playoff race and Ryder remains unhappy about his ice time, that could happen, the right winger told NJ Advance Media.
“I’ve never really asked for a trade anywhere I’ve played. I’ll see what happens now after Christmas,” Ryder said after practice Monday.
“I’ve never thought about that, really. I just want to play and help the team win. I think I can do that.”
But, Ryder stressed, he needs more playing time. He is averaging 14 minutes, 30 seconds of ice time per game and has played less than 12 minutes in five games.
from Katie Stranf of ESPN,
New York Islanders: The Isles continue to prove they belong among the top teams in the East as they rattled off their fourth straight win with a 3-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. Getting back defenseman Travis Hamonic, whose shot set up the go-ahead goal in the Islanders' third-period rally against the Bolts, should be a major boost to their back end.
The Detroit Red Wings' offense: The Wings took a surprising lead in the Eastern Conference earlier this month, but it was a short-lived grasp on the top spot as the team has sputtered heading into the holiday break. The Wings have dropped six straight games and have struggled mightily on offense, scoring just six goals during that span. Their shootout woes aren’t helping matters either.
more in each category plus other notes...
Katie Strang on the Western Conference...
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars: It was an amazing individual effort by Seguin in the Stars’ come-from-behind, 6-5 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. With his team trailing by three goals, the league’s leading goal scorer tallied twice and set up the equalizer before Dallas prevailed in the shootout. Seguin, who recorded his fifth game this season with three or more points, continues to prove he is one of the league’s most dynamic and dangerous young talents.
Arizona Coyotes: The Yotes have only two wins in the month of December, and both have come against the floundering Oilers. The team’s penalty kill has been atrocious; it ranks 29th in the league with only a 75.2 percent success rate and has exposed an already-suspect goaltending duo as a serious weakness. Expect to hear Keith Yandle's and Antoine Vermette’s names a lot once the league's trade freeze is lifted.
NEW YORK (December 22, 2014) – NHL Network™ U.S. will provide exclusive live and delayed broadcasts of 28 games from the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 - Jan. 5 in Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto, including all medal-round games and 20 preliminary-round match-ups
If you missed the hit, watch it here.
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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