Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Slap some lipstick and put some earrings on a pig, and it’s still a porker.
Even if the Edmonton Oilers do look better on a lot of nights under new coach Todd McLellan, and they’ve lost 16 games by a goal, and they’ve seldom been steam-rolled but for the odd butt-kicking by the Canadiens and Islanders, the standings say they look the same.
And, that’s the only thing that counts.
God almighty, No. 30, again.
“It’s almost like a terminal illness,” said TSN commentator Craig Button, former Calgary GM.
As some sarcastic fan said Saturday night, “Welcome home.”
Sad but true.
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
Andrew Ference was healthy when he arrived for training camp with the Edmonton Oilers last summer. He set a team record for lung capacity during fitness tests.
“I felt great,” said Ference, a defenceman who will turn 37 next month. “It was like, ‘Let’s go.’”
Then something happened that hadn’t before. Not in Pittsburgh or Calgary or Boston or Edmonton, where he landed two years ago. At first he played only occasionally. Then he was scratched from the lineup night after night.
“It totally has everything to do with getting older,” Ference said over coffee at an organic café near his house. The parking lot is icy, but it is comfy inside. High school students on their lunch break crowd around a table and pick at veggie quiches beside a fireplace. “When you are an athlete, age is always the enemy.
“Along with having pure foot speed, I think when you are younger you think quicker on the ice. As much as your body plays a role, your mind does as well. I don’t know how you measure it, but there were points early in the season where I felt my reaction time was a little slower than it used to be.”
In my opinion, to make the challenge more consistent, the situation room in Toronto should take over this process.
Below, watch the play Hall is referring to...
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonto Sun,
They at least made it to February.
An organization that measures success not on Stanley Cups or playoff appearances anymore, but on simply keeping its schedule from being rendered meaningless for as long as possible, managed to stay alive for over 50 games this year.
That’s actually good considering the Edmonton Oilers were out of it by Halloween last year and Christmas the year before.
But it’s more than a little frustrating for a team SIX YEARS into a rebuild.
A quick review of this rebuild’s rather limited progress – 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th, 28th, 28th and 29th today, having lost 10 of their last 13 games – suggests the mood in the dressing room might be close to the bottom of the NHL, too.
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in last place in the NHL, the first time the club has dipped that low in the standings since 1997.
But Leafs fans are not necessarily gloomy.
They understand that last place overall means the Leafs will have the best odds at the projected first overall pick this summer — Auston Matthews — when the NHL holds its lottery for the top overall pick in the June draft.
The Leafs are in a very tight race among the bottom four teams in the NHL after Monday night’s games. Only three points separate those four teams — Buffalo (52 points), Columbus (52), Edmonton (50) and Toronto (49).
Here’s a look at the remaining games for those four teams (before Tuesday night games):
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Journal,
They’ve been outscored 13-2 in their last two games after an equally miserable 5-1 stink bomb Saturday in Montreal, and any illusion they had of playing a meaningful game between now and the end of the season on April 9 is over....
The two-game run over Columbus and Ottawa that generated so much positive energy in Edmonton? It can safely be dismissed now as a fluke. And a bandwagon that had accelerated from zero to 60 in a matter of two games is now abandoned on the street corner, up on blocks, leaking oil and not even worth stealing and stripping down for parts.
“We have to be better than that, that’s all,” said Connor McDavid, who has a better understanding today of why the Oilers win so many lotteries. “That’s not how you want to respond after two good wins like that, with two big losses.
“We came in feeling pretty good about ourselves and I think we maybe let the high go a little too high, got a little complacent, a little cocky maybe. And that’s what you get for doing that. Two not very good games. We have to respond.”
They responded to looking distracted in Montreal by looking entirely disinterested in New York. In towns where focus is key, the Oilers had little.
“In my opinion, we weren’t focused, we weren’t ready,” said veteran Matt Hendricks. “The structure in our game went out the window. That’s about it, not a lot of excuses.”
Extended game highlights are below...
Montreal fans know a good play when they see one.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The faithful came to see Connor McDavid at the Canadian Tire Centre.
They exited the building wondering if maybe the Senators should try to win the lottery because the dream of making the playoffs is far from reality.
While the Edmonton Oilers’ young star didn’t disappoint with a pair of assists in his second game back after missing 37 games with a broken clavicle, the Senators embarrassed themselves with their fifth loss in six games — a disgraceful 7-2 defeat Thursday night in front of 18,564.
And, that resulted in a 10-minute players only closed-door meeting and though they look like they’re coming apart at the seams the message was not to let that happen.
“Stick together,” said winger Zack Smith. “We’re still confident in this group. The main focus right now is not to feel sorry for ourselves.
“Yeah, we got some bad bounces, but you have to work (to achieve better results), especially when you get in a rut like this. You have to work that much harder to get out. The main thing is to stick together. This is a good test when you go through something like this.”
Game highlights are below...
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
It has never happened before.
Never has an NHL team had a fork stuck in them before the All-Star break en route to equaling a record 10 straight seasons out of the playoffs only to return to a scene like the Edmonton Oilers will experience tonight.
Because of the return of Connor McDavid, they’ll return to an environment charged with anticipation and excitement, an experience very much like the first home game of the season.
“It’s like September again,” said Oilers’ media relations director J.J. Hebert, as he surveyed the media gathered to cover the return of the player so many expect to be the greatest since Gretzky from missing 37 games due to a broken collarbone.
“For Connor, it probably is,” said coach Todd McLellan.
McLellan said he’s not going to baby McDavid upon re-entry.
“Open the door and let him go,” he said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org