Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
Last week when our beloved Los Tiburones visited here for Games 3 and 4 of their playoff series with the Calgary Flames, the air was 55-degrees but often sunny and spring-like. Now it’s tundra-like. There’s nearly a foot of snow on the ground. The temperature? Low teens. I’m glad I brought my wool beanie.
It is fine hockey weather, for sure. But it is also fine metaphor weather. Because, yes, the climate of this series also has changed dramatically over the past seven days.
A week ago tonight, you might recall, the Sharks rolled back to their team hotel in a dark cloud. They were trailing in the series, two games to one - after blowing a three-goal lead for the first time in franchise playoff history.
After that horrific Game 3, the Sharks locker room was a stew of cliches that, frankly, provoked a lot of eye-rolling among cynical media types. Including me.
from Russo’s Rants,
A lot of the blame should fall on Risebrough.
Think Adam Foote helped Colorado? I’ll let Gaborik answer that question. Think Ruslan Salei helped Colorado? I’ll let Mark Parrish and Niklas Backstrom and every other Wild player he creamed answer that.
Think Chris Simon helped the Wild? I’ll let Jacques Lemaire answer that. It’ll be the same answer he’d give on whether Dominic Moore and Adam Hall helped the Wild.
Colorado needed to make moves at the deadline. It did. It goes on. The gun-shy Wild needed to make moves at the deadline. It didn’t. It’s cleaning out its lockers, probably Monday.
more on the Wild…
from the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs Blog at CBC,
And then there was one.
One game nobody believed would ever happen. One game where this extraordinary Boston Bruins hockey season orchestrated by head coach Claude Julien can maybe continue into the second round of the NHL playoffs.
One game where the Montreal Canadiens’ “dream season,” as it was described by coach Guy Carbonneau, can come to a crashing, devastating halt.
That game will come Monday night at the Bell Centre, as the Canadiens and Bruins will play an improbable Game 7 in this series that has featured just about anything anyone can want out of playoff hockey.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets will have up to $20 million to spend on roster improvements this summer, along with a directive from ownership to get better quickly.
Now comes the potentially hard part—persuading free agents to take the Blue Jackets’ money, to sign a long-term contract with a club that outsiders view as the Tampa Bay Rays of hockey.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• There are those who are pushing player agent Mike Gillis for the vacant general manager’s job in Vancouver. Me? I’d never consider hiring a guy who once employed the disgraceful David Frost as a birddog, before later denying it. Better choices in Vancouver: Former agent Brian Lawton, and ex-GMs Neil Smith and Doug Armstrong.
• Marian Hossa is not a franchise player and anyone who pays him franchise-type money in free agency will end up regretting it.
a few more hockey related bits…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
At the GM meetings in the winter, you’ll recall, the league essentially declared war on the goalies by demanding a new crackdown on their equipment. Now, the league that less than 10 years ago wouldn’t allow a goal to be scored with as much as a toe in the blue paint is allowing the netminders to be physically abused every game.
What the league is setting itself up for, however, is for a series-winning goal, or a Cup-winning goal, to be scored while a goalie is being blatantly hindered from being able to stop the puck.
more and some AO talk too…
from Woody Paige of the Denver Post,
When he rejoined the Avalanche on Feb. 25, Forsberg signed a one-year, $5 million contract, with the pro-rated share actually only $1 mil.
It could turn out to be the deal of the century.
In the 16 regular and postseason games he’s played, the Splendid Swede has provided the Avs with 17 assists and two goals.
Against Minnesota, he had four assists and a goal, despite being a constant target for the Wild.
“I’m actually feeling better (physically) than I thought I would at the end of the series. There were a couple of real physical games in Minnesota, but these last two weren’t as physical. I feel good. I didn’t think I had that great of a series, but maybe I’ll do better.
“I think being the first team to (advance) in the Western Conference is a positive for us. If you’re going to play a lot of games, you want as much rest as you can get, and we’ll have a few days before we play again.”
from Jessica Hopp of the Tennessean,
Today, in front of a national NBC audience, the Predators host the Red Wings in Game 6 with a chance to again tie the series. But to parlay recent playoff success into a larger fan base and greater national recognition, observers say the Predators need to do one major thing: defeat Detroit.
“The big step for them is they have to win this playoff series,” said Pierre McGuire, a national hockey television analyst who won two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization in 1991 and 1992. “This gives them huge collateral going forward.”
For now, in Nashville, at least, hockey fever has taken hold.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Game 6 or bust. That has to be the Flyers’ mantra after they were outhustled and outsmarted here in Game 5. The Caps’ 3-2 win may have been the last wild punch of a beaten team desperate to save face with its home fans. Or it may have been more proof that these young Capitals have figured out how to play in the postseason and have taken control of this series.
The best and perhaps only way to prevent that is to win Game 6 tomorrow night at the Wachovia Center.
“Maybe I’m crazy,” said coach John Stevens, who is not. “But I always start at seven and work backward. If you are able to sweep the series, that’s a bonus for you, but I always go into a series thinking we are going to play seven. If we have an opportunity to finish it in less than seven - we had that opportunity today - good.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
You would have thought the NHL would have been delighted to welcome back Scott Niedermayer, a champion at every level of the game and a wonderful ambassador for the sport, upon his Dec. 15 return to the lineup following the early-season sabbatical he was granted by the Ducks.
Of course, you would have been wrong.
Slap Shots has learned that instead, the league has sought to punish Niedermayer by fining him approximately $500,000 of his $6.75M salary for missing training camp, unilaterally invoking Article 15.3 (f) of the CBA that reads, “For each day a Player does not report to Training Camp without his Club’s permission, his pay will be reduced by 1/275th of his annual . . . salary . . . “
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 email@example.com