Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Off-Season Game Plan looks at what the Blue Jackets may do to build upon last season's success to return to the playoffs again next year.
There's lots of reason to be optimistic about Columbus, as they have a young core, headlined by 21-year-old centre Ryan Johansen. The only expected returnees older than 30 are defencemen Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski. Winger R.J. Umberger is 32, but is looking to move on, so the Blue Jackets largely have a roster around which they can build for the next couple seasons.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen and head coach Todd Richards were buoyed by the Blue Jackets' progress last season, but both know that there is still much room to improve.
"We have to be careful. We want to keep our good chemistry," said Kekalainen. "We always want to bring in the right kind of people, not only as hockey players but as teammates and human beings. It's going to be an important part of our scouting manual."
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Head Coach Todd Richards to a two-year contract extension through the 2016-17 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
The club will hold a press conference with Richards on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at Nationwide Arena, which will also be streamed LIVE on BlueJackets.com and the official Blue Jackets mobile app.
Richards, 47, has led Columbus to an 85-70-16 record in 171 games behind the bench, including a franchise-best mark of 43-32-7 in 2013-14. The Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in club history this past season and posted the first playoff wins in club history in a six-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series vs. the Metropolitan Division champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Todd has done an outstanding job for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we’re pleased that he will continue to lead our team,” said Kekalainen. “We believe he is one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players. He’s played a significant role in our recent success and we look forward to having him continue to be a big part of our franchise moving forward.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The immediate reviews were scathing.
Nash was going to have real players to play with in Manhattan — like Brad Richards — and would be so much more than he’d been able to be in Columbus. Fifty goals was the minimum, experts figured.
The old cliché of the-team-that-gets-the-best-player-wins-the-deal was trotted out. And poor Howson was treated like a country bumpkin for his efforts, like he’d been taken to the cleaners by wily old Glen Sather.
Eight months later, Howson was fired.
Well, here we are less than two years after the trade, and suddenly Howson, now a senior executive with the Edmonton Oilers, doesn’t look quite so dumb, does he?
The Jackets are loaded with young talent, including power forward Kerby Rychel of the Guelph Storm, a likely participant in the Mastercard Memorial Cup next week who was selected with that first-round pick acquired in the Nash deal. Dubinsky was a major force in the first round against Pittsburgh, Anisimov is a regular and Erixon has earned some NHL work.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
... Kekalainen’s biggest task this summer will be dealing with the several players who need new contracts.
Johansen’s contact will be interesting to follow. At this time last year, he was a healthy scratch in an American Hockey League playoff game. But after two quiet NHL seasons, Johansen tied for 11th in the league with 33 goals, ahead of such stars as Ryan Getzlaf, Marian Hossa, Anze Kopitar, Claude Giroux and Jonathan Toews.
The Blue Jackets would prefer a three-year contract, one that would expire when Johansen can only become a restricted free agent. But there is risk in waiting too long to sign a deal this summer.
As a restricted free agent, Johansen could sign an offer sheet with any NHL team if he’s not signed by July 1. The Blue Jackets could match the offer and keep Johansen, but it’s an expensive and risky way of doing business.
And Johansen — much like Bobrovsky last summer — seems a ripe candidate for an offer sheet, given his age, skill and position.
Well what a night that was! Three Game Sevens and now we start the second round later today.
Before the second round starts let’s take a look at how we did predicting the first round.
Huge night for hockey fans out there! Kings, avs and rangers are my picks!— anthony brodeur (@abrodeur30) April 30, 2014
I will put my own predictions up to bat:
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from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Down 4-0 through two periods last night, the Blue Jackets almost pulled off their third did-I-just-see-that? comeback of this Stanley Cup playoff series, scoring three goals in less than five minutes to set up a nervy finish. Ultimately the Penguins held on to win 4-3 and won the series four games to two.
But a soldout crowd of 19,189 in Nationwide Arena showed its appreciation by chanting CBJ! CBJ! CBJ! long after the final buzzer sounded and all through the ceremonial handshakes.
“This isn’t how anybody in this room wanted this to end,” Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky said. “All 27 of us believed we could beat that team, and we still feel that way. I want to play them again tomrorow, but I know that’s not possible.
“We came a long way. We grew a lot as a team. We didn’t go anywhere near as far as we wanted to go, but I can say it and mean it: I’m proud of these guys, and I’m excited as (heck) for the future here.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
The grim reaper will be roaming the concourses in Nationwide Arena when the Blue Jackets play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6.
If the Blue Jackets win, the series goes back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 on Wednesday night.
If the Blue Jackets lose, they will shake hands with the Penguins after the final buzzer and clean out their locker stalls on Tuesday.
“It’s a do-or-die game,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “Throughout my playoff experience, the toughest game for any team to win is the fourth one because the other team is so desperate to stay alive.
“That’s where we’re at. We have to have a good start, a fast start, and we have to take the action to them.”
Ron MacLean chats with President of hockey operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets and a former NHL goaltender John Davidson discussing the talent of this years' squad and reflect on his personal playoff memories.
Tim Thompson is at it again...
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Paul Martin leads the Pittsburgh Penguins in playoff points.
That is nice for the veteran defenceman but it says just about all you need to know about the Penguins in their first-round NHL playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which resumes Saturday. Martin has eight assists in four games, double the number of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and the same number of goals as the superstar pair – zero.
The only other thing to know is that after Marc-André Fleury tantalized the fans into thinking he was the playoff goaltender of 2009 over the first three games, in the space of about three minutes in Game 4 he turned into the post-season flop of 2010 through 2013. In other words, he wilted when the heat was on. Maybe that’s why they call him Flower.
So once again the Penguins, as talented a team as you can find in the salary-cap era, are at the centre of a playoff storm. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 and being declared the NHL’s next dynasty, the Pens have been as far as the Eastern Conference final once, where they were summarily dismissed by the Boston Bruins last year, and were bounced in the first round twice.
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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