Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhastchek of the Globe and Mail,
This is what we know for sure with a week to go in a delirious, nerve-wracking, throat-constricting National Hockey League playoff race:
The Vancouver Canucks are in; the Ottawa Senators are in; and the Calgary Flames will get in, provided they win one of their four remaining games.
The Edmonton Oilers are out; the miracle run of 2006 a long-forgotten memory. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens can technically both still make it, but in all probability, only one will. If that happens, it will likely be at the expense of the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, meaning that for the first time in 80 years, both of last year’s finalists would fail to qualify for the playoffs.
from the Calgary Sun,
The seventh or eighth seed is most likely for the Flames, who have four games remaining, which means they could start their drive for the Stanley Cup in Detroit, Nashville or Anaheim.
Those three teams are scrapping it out for the top spot in the west as well as the Presidents’ Trophy for the league’s best record.
“I would say I would want to play against Nashville if I were Calgary,” said TSN and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, impressed by the way the Flames have returned to their gritty style down the stretch.
“I think an overall hitting game would probably be the kind of game Nashville wouldn’t be overly comfortable with even though they’re not a shy team.
“I see a team that’s really starting to come together. I see a team that’s playing more of a resilient road game. If they play their mean-spirited Calgary Flames type of game, which they’re starting to get back to—in a good way, not a bad way—I see them being able to win.”
from, Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Playing at a high level at 42, Hasek might change the way the league views age in a goaltender. The NHL might be looking differently at many aspects of playoff goaltending. Coaches are certainly more open to the idea of switching goalies in the postseason, and there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much fretting about the lack of playoff experience.
Of the 16 teams in playoff positions Sunday, five — the Tampa Bay Lightning (Marc Denis and Johan Holmqvist, Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), Atlanta Thrashers (Kari Lehtonen), Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) and Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) — will use goaltenders who have never played a postseason game.
read on and other NHL topics…
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Sometime over the next week to 10 days, scribes, pundits and self-styled experts from all over the hockey world will analyze the NHL’s opening playoff round the way a good CPA analyzes the tax act.
They will dissect tendencies. They will crunch numbers. They will consider individual matchups and all manner of statistical minutiae.
No detail, in short, will be ignored. All will be weighed and measured and then and only then will a final judgment be passed in the form of a “prediction.”
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
When approaching the playoffs, it’s always sound judgment to check with the greatest coach in NHL history, listen to the stream of consciousness of Scotty Bowman and marvel at the insight.
This was the guy who four months ago, when Anaheim was making a mockery of the Western Conference, said the Ducks would come back to the pack before it was all over.
When a fellow has won as many Stanley Cups as Bowman, it’s generally a good idea to avail yourself of arguably the greatest mind in hockey history.
from Bill Clement at MSNBC,
As it does with players, the spotlight shines brightest on coaches come the NHL playoffs.
For those behind the bench, putting their stamp on playoff success can come about through various means and methods.
Here’s a look at a group who are ready for all the postseason can throw their way. But before I get into my list, a couple of keys on what helps mold a top-caliber NHL coach.
There’s the need for a strong personality—one that never cracks, one that never rattles under pressure.
via Sports Business Daily,
Hockey HOFer Scotty Bowman will post his first blog today for NBCSports.com, where he will discuss which teams he believes will make the NHL playoffs. Bowman will blog two to three times a week throughout the season and playoffs.
I did a quick search at NBC but didn’t find anything yet, if you happen to run into it, please post in the comments…
update 3:00pm, from Scotty Bowman at NBC Sports,
This Eastern Conference playoff face is sure tough to figure. Last year, the West was pretty close at the end of the season, but it was for one spot, which is mostly what I’ve seen. But now you could say it’s easily three open spots in the East.
Sure, there’s a couple of important races, and not just for the last few spots. The race between Atlanta and Tampa Bay for the Southeast is important because one of those teams will end up with the third seed while the other will be fighting just to get in the playoffs. Tampa’s got a decent schedule and it gets to play Carolina, which can also sneak up and grab first in the Southeast.
note: originally posted at 9:05am, 3/26/07
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
How nice of the Tampa Bay Lightning to join the party.
Whereas the scuffle in the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference appeared to involve five teams fighting for two spots just last week, that has changed courtesy of the floundering Bolts.
Tampa found itself passed by the soaring New York Rangers yesterday, once again demonstrating that if you don’t like the conference standings much today, don’t worry.
Tomorrow they’ll be different.
KK mod and member Tony is keeping KK readers up to date with the NHL playoff race and other stats.
Make sure to check it out in this thread of the KK Forums...
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
In the salary cap world, where there isn’t much separating the top of the playoff pool from the bottom, it seems next to impossible to pick a favorite.
Maybe we should just pick the Stanley Cup champions to repeat. Oh, wait a minute, the Carolina Hurricanes might not make the playoffs. Maybe we should pick last season’s other Stanley Cup finalist. No that doesn’t work because the Edmonton Oilers are all but out of the playoffs.
Maybe we should draw a name out a hat because the truth is there might be eight favorites in each conference. Another No. 8 seed might just reach the Finals again this spring like the Oilers did last June.
read on... Kevin breaks down the plus and minuses for the cup contenders…
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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