Kukla's Korner Hockey
Steve of Puck the Media gets this news today…
The Sharks’ 5-2 victory against the Bruins on Tuesday was the highest-rated and most-watched regular-season game in Versus’ four years with the NHL. It drew a 0.54 household rating nationally (550,000 viewers) and was 69 percent above the network’s average for the season.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
However, given the punishing and defensive nature of the postseason, Chiarelli’s wiser upgrade could be along the blue line. That may sound odd, especially with captain Zdeno Chara looking capable of winning the Norris Trophy this season.
But come playoff time, opposing offenses aren’t going to be shooting the puck into Big Z’s corner for the 28, 30, or more minutes he’ll play each night. They’re going to overload to his partner’s corner, which likely points to Aaron Ward getting hammered. The next pairing with big minutes, Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman, will take a beating, too. While both have outperformed expectations this season, Ference is small and Wideman, though much steadier this season, most likely will be heavily pressured on dump-ins and forechecking.
If, as rumored, the Ducks make towering blue liner Chris Pronger available at the deadline, he will become the Hossa of this year’s swap meet. Of the Eastern Conference contenders - Boston, Washington, New Jersey, maybe the Canadiens and Flyers - any one of them would become an immediate favorite to reach the Cup finals if they landed the 6-foot-6-inch Pronger. He is among the strongest, fiercest hitters in the game, a big part of why the Ducks body-slammed their way over the Senators to win the 2007 Cup.
With Pronger on the books for $6.25 million this season and next, the Bruins would have cap room for him, provided the league relaxes on the cap issue.
from David Pollak of Working the Corners,
Milan Lucic and Coach Claude Julien said San Jose was the best team that Boston has faced all year.
“I think they’re heavy on their sticks, as you’ve probably noticed,” Julien said in explaining why he thinks the Sharks are the best opponent the Bruins have faced. “They’ve got a pretty good-sized hockey club. And when it was time to really battle . . . they certainly had the advantage on us. They were strong on their sticks and stronger than we were.”
more on the Sharks victory over the Bruins last night…
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Based on scouting, the slight edge has to go to the San Jose Sharks for Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins.
It comes down to time zones.
When the Sharks arrive for games at HP Pavilion, the televisions in their locker room are already blaring out the games going on back East. If the Bruins are playing that night, the Sharks will gravitate toward that television.
“Obviously we like to keep an eye on the Western teams,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told NHL.com, “but we watch the Bruins over most Eastern teams.”
from Bill Khan of the Flint Journal,
A journeyman of the minors and European pro leagues wasn’t supposed to get his big NHL break at the age of 31, much less keep a starting job for four seasons.
Now, throw in two trips to the All-Star Game, plus the fact he’s among the league’s statistical leaders and the backbone of the team with the best record in the NHL.
Who’s going to believe this stuff anyway? Hollywood would dismiss the script as too unrealistic.
So, to suggest that Thomas’ days as an elite NHL goalie might but short-and-sweet because he’ll be 35 years old come playoff time ... well, don’t suggest it.
“How much longer I’ll keep playing and how long can I keep playing at such a high level, that answer remains to be seen,” Thomas said Monday during a conference call with NHL media members.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Joe Thornton will be back on Causeway Street Tuesday night, only his second visit to the Hub of Hockey since the Nov. 30, 2005, trade that Mike O’Connell orchestrated, sending Jumbo Joe, the Boston franchise’s centerpiece, to the San Jose Sharks.
Some three-plus years later, O’Connell figures the trade was justified, and it is one that he would make again, given the same circumstances. As for what he got in return, said O’Connell, there will always be those who say he should have received more.
“That’s always the case, even if it’s your best trade,” said the former Bruins general manager, these days overseeing pro development for the Los Angeles Kings. “But it was like any trade: You take in, rely on what everyone in the organization says - scouts, everyone - and let’s not forget there was a money issue here, too, moving Joe with his high [$6.6 million] salary. This wasn’t the pre-salary-cap NHL. Like all these deals, the money had to work, too.”
continued plus more hockey topics…
From Fluto Shinzawa of Bruins Blog at the Boston Globe:
Michael Ryder will not play today because of a facial fracture and is out indefinitely. Ryder was clipped by an Antoine Vermette high stick on Thursday. Ryder will be re-evaluated on Monday. Claude Julien said there is a possibility Ryder might require surgery, although Julien said the right wing’s eyesight is OK.
Update 1:38pm ET: From Bruins Insider at the Boston Herald—
“It’s a small fracture, so he’s out indefinitely. He’s going to be looked at again on Monday to see if he can play with a shield,” said coach Claude Julien.
The possibility of surgery cannot be ruled out, said Julien.
“It’s a shame,” said Julien. “When I say indefinitely, you hope it’s shorter rather than longer, but we’ll find out more here early in the week.”
from James Duthie at the Ottawa Citizen,
...you talk to Aaron Ward because, unlike most of the players in this league, Ward actually talks. And he does so without spewing a single cliché or ducking a question, which is a rather religious experience in this column business.
And when a player has three Stanley Cup rings, has been to five finals, was almost destroyed by Scotty Bowman, and once nearly scrapped with teammate Jaromir Jagr on the bench, there is plenty to talk about….
“One night in Chicago, I blocked a shot with my mouth and from the lip to the nose, I was gushing blood everywhere. As I headed to the room, Scotty yelled ‘If you’re not back in five, you don’t play another shift.’ Our doctor was about 80, so I knew there wasn’t a chance that the stitches were going in that fast!” Another night in Colorado, Forsberg and Sakic stepped on the ice, and Detroit assistant Dave Lewis sent Ward and his partner out.
“Scotty came running down the bench, yelling ‘Jesus Dave are you trying to make us lose the game!?!’ I was halfway across the ice, but I could hear it so clearly, I decided to save my career so I did a 180 and went back to the bench.” Ward would leave Detroit with two rings—and zero fear.
From the CP via TSN:
Thornton said at the time that he was “blindsided” by the deal that sent him to the Sharks for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. Facing Boston now is just another game.
“Really that’s all it is to me,” he said. “There’s not too many ex-teammates over there, and it’s just really an important game in the schedule.
“They’re the best in the East and we’re the best in the West. So it’s an important game that way rather than I’m playing against friends.”
read on for more from Thornton’s media conference call today
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli will be the guest on today’s edition of NHL Hour with Gary Bettman.
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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.
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