Kukla's Korner Hockey
In the latest episode of The Bolts Beat, the boys offer their conference forecasts, predicting teams 15 all the way to 1 for both the West and the East. Cramming details for all 30 teams into an hour show proved to be a formidable task, with those projected as non-playoff clubs getting far lengthier explanations than those the hosts see qualifying for postseason play. Spoiler alert: Obligatory Alex Tanguay cracks included, the Lightning make the playoffs and Jon’s orange-and-blue hallucinations return (sort of).
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Tags: nhl+season+preview, predictions
“The biggest thing is the uncertainty of planning. Whenever you’re trying to put a team together under any system, it’s about planning ahead. Obviously going forward here, there’s a lot of uncertainty. The ability to plan … it just seems we shouldn’t be in this position of such uncertainty.”
-Dean Lombardi, GM of the Los Angeles Kings on the CBA. More from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,
“We all love this game, we want to get out there and win a Stanley Cup,” Mitchell said. “That’s why we’ve played 5,000 road hockey games, to have a shot at it. That’s why we do what we do at the end of the day. That’s what challenges us. We push our limits.”
That’s why, after suffering a concussion in a collision with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Mitchell was out hiking in March and April, pushing his body in hopes of getting ready for the playoffs.
His body pushed back.
The symptoms from the concussion came rushing back.
“It’s almost like you’re autistic,” he said. “You’re overly sensitive, you can’t deal with light and sound.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, a former Flyers scout, liked Stevens’ work ethic. So did assistant GM Ron Hextall, who bled Flyers orange and black as a player. Coach Terry Murray was Stevens’ assistant in Philadelphia and a friend since Stevens played for and later coached the Flyers’ minor league team, the Phantoms.
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“They all know that John is a man of tremendous integrity and did not need much of a push to hire him,” Holmgren said. “He’s a great fit there.”
Stevens, who played 53 NHL games for the Flyers and Hartford Whalers, is Murray’s top assistant. He inherited Hardy’s duties of working with the defense and overseeing the penalty killing, which ranked 20th in the NHL last season. Under his direction it will be more aggressive, more intent on pressuring the puck.
“He’s changed things up a little bit,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “He seems like a great guy, easy to talk to.”
from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
Another player who impressed last night was Jack Johnson, and it seems as though Johnson might benefit from Terry Murray’s new emphasis on playmaking, including the thumbs-up for defensemen to be more active in initiating and joining plays.
Johnson was known as a strong two-way defenseman at the University of Michigan, but that top-level offensive ability has yet to show itself at the NHL level. Johnson had eight goals and 28 assists in 80 games last season, but his voice picked up a noticeably more excited tone when he was asked about his desire to be more active in the offensive zone.
“Absolutely,” Johnson said. “It’s no fun to never cross the red line. You want to get involved at both ends of the ice and try to contribute at both ends. I think that’s what makes the game fun. Just to be a one-sided player, I don’t think it makes it as fun.”
We have Philadelpia taking on Toronto right now on NHL Network-US from London, Ontario and then the Kings face the Coyotes at 10:00pm ET via streaming which is embedded below.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
When you see them on the ice together as a pairing, you wonder if you aren’t watching the makings of one of the NHL’s great defensive tandems for the 2010-11 season.
Free-agent newcomer Willie Mitchell was again skating alongside blueliner phenom Drew Doughty at Kings training camp Monday, a fit that makes so much sense.
“Mitchell and Doughty—I really like the look,” Kings coach Terry Murray said Monday between on-ice sessions at the team’s practice facility. “A great veteran player in Mitchell, a defensive guy whose really a solid character person, is going to help push Doughty along.”
Mitchell, the towering, shutdown D-man, plus Doughty, the offensive wizard and puck-mover and ... voila! You have the Kings’ top pairing.
“A perfect fit for a guy like Doughty,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi told ESPN.com on Monday.
Lombardi’s eyes rarely shifted away from the ice surface while he discussed his team with ESPN.com. His excitement for the Mitchell signing is unmistakable; so much so that, while he would never say it out loud, I’m convinced Lombardi would be more excited about signing Mitchell even if Ilya Kovalchuk would have become a King this summer. Seriously.
Before a single tweak to the roster, the Tampa Bay Lightning were already poised for improvement in 2010-11. With the tumultuous era of previous ownership already behind them when the sale of the team to Jeff Vinik was completed late last season, gone in an instant were any and all off-ice concerns and the circus went back to being an annual visitor to the St. Pete Times Forum rather than a permanent resident. With the appointment of Steve Yzerman as general manager, credibility returned to the franchise and new head coach Guy Boucher was widely regarded as the hottest commodity on the off-season coaching market.
Without a solitary player move, hockey life in Tampa was good again.
But far be it from Yzerman to rest on the comfort that fans surely feel by him simply not being one of those other guys. The addition of former Flyers forward Simon Gagne headlines a list of shrewd off-season maneuvers for the rookie GM and the revamped roster could very well translate to the sort of on-ice success that will make Lightning followers quickly forgot about three non-playoff seasons gone by.
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from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
The words are practically tied together. When coach Terry Murray says the name Jonathan Quick, it’s almost always followed, in the next breath, by the words “No. 1 goalie.” Murray wants to establish, early and often, that Quick is the Kings’ clear-cut goalie, and eliminate any suggestion of a competition between Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Erik Ersberg.
How long will that last? It’s hard to say. Quick set franchise records for wins and games last season, but Bernier was the top goalie in the AHL last season, and there’s a lot of eagerness to see what he can do at the NHL level. Quick has put himself in a good position, showing up to camp in what one team executive called the best shape of Quick’s career. And a reduced workload should also help. Quick never complained when his game total soared to 72, even when he clearly appeared to wear down late in the season.
Today, Murray talked about his plans for the goalies this season, and Quick talked about his preparation and the upcoming season.
via Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum at the LA Times,
Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who signed a two-year, $7-million contract with the Kings as a free agent, said the prospect of playing for an up-and-coming team factored heavily into his decision to choose the Kings over three other suitors—reportedly San Jose, Washington and Vancouver.
He also said the notion of playing alongside Norris trophy runnerup Drew Doughty was “intriguing,” and his high regard for Doughty was reinforced when they met recently in Los Angeles.
“I wore No. 8 in Vancouver. The first day he came in he was like, ‘Willie you can take my number,’ and I think that just speaks volumes of him as a kid,” Mitchell said.
He declined Doughty’s generous offer. “I said, ‘No, you had too good of a year last year. You’ve got to keep rocking that thing,’ ” Mitchell said, laughing.
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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