Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Don't you love those games where history takes a front-row seat? Like in Philadelphia on Thursday night when former Flyers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, cast off by the Flyers only to win a Vezina Trophy last season in Columbus, blanked his old team with a 37-save effort in the Blue Jackets' 2-0 win.
Bobrovsky was especially strong in the second period, when he faced 17 Flyers shots.
The victory kept the Blue Jackets one point ahead of Toronto for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and also moved Columbus to within two points of the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Both teams have six games remaining and there is significant incentive for Columbus, Philadelphia and Detroit to avoid being the second wild card and drawing the Bruins -- the best team in the East by a country mile -- in the first round of the playoffs.
read on for Custance on Drew Doughty and the Kings, LeBrun on Chara and Strang on Patrick Roy...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
They still control their playoff destiny and still are in a favorable position, but their offense has disappeared, and they have lost five of their last six games (1-3-2), including Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to tight-checking Columbus at the Wells Fargo Center....
The Flyers had 37 shots, but most were from the perimeter. They outplayed Columbus in just one period _ the second _ but couldn’t connect on any of their 17 shots, and they allowed a power-play goal late in the period.
“We just didn’t play sixty minutes,” said captain Claude Giroux, who had his third straight point-less game _ his longest stretch since he was blanked in the season’s first five games. ‘I think the second period we did a lot of good things, we played the way we wanted to, and they got a goal… and we got away from that.”
Ex-Flyer Bobrovsky outplayed his counterpart, former Blue Jacket Steve Mason.
“He challenged the puck a lot,” said Giroux, referring to Bobrovsky. “He comes out of his net and takes the angles off. He’s so quick that it’s tough to beat him.”
from Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets, with 10 games remaining, were one of the two Eastern Conference teams in wild-card positions yesterday and one of four that began the day with 80 points. It doesn’t get much tighter.
The sky will fall with every loss, but only if the Blue Jackets let it, said Upper Arlington-based psychologist Jim Reardon, who works with the team.
Despite being inexperienced in the ways of the playoff push, “The players probably handle it better than everyone else,” Reardon said.
“The ups and downs are probably not as high and low as they are for people on the outside.”
Defenseman Fedor Tyutin said nobody was as glum as the players appeared to be after the loss to the Islanders.
“It’s not good to look back, because everybody realizes the importance of the next game,” Tyutin said. “That’s what we live for.”
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
After his two-goal game Tuesday against Detroit in a crucial wild-card battle, Johansen leapt into a tie with household names Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis for 14th overall in NHL goals. But there are some striking differences between the 21-year-old Johansen and the elite few above him in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.
No player who has scored more than the Port Moody, B.C., native’s 29 goals is younger than him. Everyone ahead of the third-year centre averages at least 46 seconds more ice time per game and has been nationally televised in 2013-14 more than Johansen’s twice. And no one ahead of Johansen was such a non-factor last season.
Johansen is in the midst of his first double-digit-goal season after scoring just 14 goals and 19 assists total in his first 107 career contests as a freshman and sophomore. Which is a mathematical way of saying he’s in the throes of one hell of a breakout year — and has probably made one guy in your fantasy pool look very prescient.
from Mike Wagner of the Columbus Dispatch,
The sound of the steel-edged tool chiseling into a small buildup of ice echoes through an empty and dim Nationwide Arena about three hours after a tough shootout loss for the Blue Jackets.
It takes 27 slashes before Ian Huffman is satisfied that he has restored a small patch of the rink to perfection.
It had been 19 hours since the head ice technician entered the arena to prepare the surface for the Jackets’ March 13 game against the San Jose Sharks.
During that time, he had made 16 Zamboni runs; incessantly checked computers and equipment that monitor air temperature and humidity; filed a pile of condition reports; edged the perimeter of the ice by hand a half-dozen times; managed his 15 staff members before and during the game; and consumed more cups of coffee than a truck driver on a cross-country trip.
“There isn’t a single detail he misses, and that’s one reason Ian is one of the best in the world at what he does,” said Dan Craig, the National Hockey League’s senior director of facility operations.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
The team has lost two in a row and three of four to fall out of playoff position. What has to change to get it back motoring in the right direction?
"I think we have to finish. We've had lots of scoring chances, we're not finishing. Our power play has been a part of that. It's gone dry right now, and as I speak I'm watching our club working on the ice with it. That's got to get better for us. Even if you don't score, that has to get better because it gives you positive momentum. We're not giving up a whole lot, but we need to get the puck in the net."
You bring up scoring, which is interesting because you had Marian Gaborik, who is obviously known as a goal scorer, and you traded him away to the Los Angeles Kings. Why didn't Gaborik fit in Columbus?
"He had a rough time with injuries mostly. The knee went early. He got back, but the first game back he got hit hard and fractured his collarbone and was out for quite some time. We were looking at it going forward and didn't see a fit for next season, so we decided just to make that change. He wanted to stay. He's a good person. It just seemed like a square peg in a round hole for our club. We just play a different game and it just wasn't a fit. He's a good person, a good player and he'll do well in Los Angeles."
"You get a premium education with the opportunity to go compete for a national championship in a large city that really has no professional sports team. There's a lot to be offered up here."
-Urban Meyer, head coach of the Ohio State University football team, located in Columbus, on recruiting a player to OSU.
More from Brian Stubits at the Eye on Hockey.
added 6:58pm, via Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch.
Urban Meyer said he is a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL and the Columbus Crew of Major League soccer, and in a text message sent to The Dispatch today he wanted to make it clear he misspoke in an interview with an Atlanta newspaper last week in which he was quoted as saying Columbus had no major league sports.
“I have great respect for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Crew organizations,” Meyer wrote today. “The intent of my comment about football recruiting was that Columbus doesn’t have professional football. I should have made that point clear, and I do apologize for the misunderstanding.
“I am pulling for the Blue Jackets in their playoff drive and I wish the best for the Crew under its new leadership.”
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The Blue Jackets seemed to emerge as one of the favorite sleeper teams to watch in the Eastern Conference coming out of the Olympic break, and just last week they were nestled in quite nicely among the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division.
But the Blue Jackets haven't been able to string together consecutive wins over the past six games and that has cost them valuable points.
As of Monday, Columbus trails Toronto by two points for the last wild card spot, and though the Maple Leafs appear to be on the brink of disaster the Blue Jackets are not doing themselves any favors right now, either.
Friday's 3-1 loss to the Rangers was a magnificent game on both ends of the ice -- spirited, physical, energetic -- and it's hard to imagine they did not suffer an emotional letdown in their visit to Long Island Sunday.
The Blue Jackets were blanked 2-0 by a feeble, injury-ravaged Islanders squad. The biggest question mark for Columbus right now? The power play, which was stifled on all six attempts Sunday and has not recorded a goal in the past ten games. The Blue Jackets still have two games in hand on the Leafs, but they are going to have to show more consistency in order to earn a post-season berth.
read on for Burnside on the Leafs, Custance on the Wild and LeBrun on the Leafs...
from Shawn Mitchell of Puck-Rakers,
“I think at this time of the season, you’ve got to find a way,” Richards said. “You’ve got to dig down. And if your energy isn’t quite at the level it needs to be at then It comes down to game management.
“You’ve got to manage the game better, in how you play, how you handle the puck, the decisions that you make.”
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said the Jackets’ effort wasn’t up for question, but “if you can’t come to play for at least 20 minutes a night then you ought to take up Putt-Putt or something,” he said.
“Push yourself for 20. Guys tried. But (the Islanders) only needed one to win. That’s a tough pill to swallow, when you can’t score one goal.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
There was the goalmouth fracas at 17:06 of the second period in which Nash launched a pair of gloved fists at Bobrovsky’s throat when the goaltender swatted away No. 61’s stick after the two men had collided on the winger’s right wing drive to the net on which an apparent goal was waved off for “incidental contact.”
Incidentally, that followed a first period in which Bobrovsky twice whacked Nash across the back of the legs in a game that began nasty and only ratcheted up as it evolved.
“What set me off? Did you see? It’s that [Bobrovsky] flings my stick away when I reach down to pick it up after he gives me two whacks,” said Nash, still on a high in the postgame room. “He’s an emotional guy trying to get into the game and I’m trying to get my team the game.”
Then, there was the fight with Matt Calvert at 0:12 of third, the game still scoreless, after the wingers jostled and sparred before and immediately after the opening draw of the period, and then went down in a heap before Nash started throwing punches when both regained their feet.
“That was probably the two cross-checks to the head, the slew foot and him saying he was going with me and doesn’t care,” said Nash, who had seven shots in 14:44. “Did you see?”
more and watch the Nash/Bobrovsky incident 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.
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