Kukla's Korner Hockey
From James Deacon at AOL Sports Canada,
Still, most fans agree the pace has quickened and there is more excitement. And the fact is that the current goal-scoring rate, while down, exceeds the 5.14 goals-per-game average from the last pre-rules change season, 2003-04.
So if the game’s moving in the right direction, why are goal totals heading the other way? Some rarely cited stats offer insight: the difference in the last three seasons is entirely made up by a drop in power-play goals. There have been eight fewer penalty minutes per game this season compared to the same period in 2005-06, and the current number of even-strength goals through 637 games is 2,434, exactly the same total as two seasons ago.
To some, that suggests referees have eased up. But players and refs say the big difference is that players’ behaviour has changed. Four years ago you practically had to draw blood to be penalized for hooking, so water-skiing was the defensive technique of choice.
Not any more.
more… on the “new” NHL and its unlikely poster boy, Brendan Shanahan
Gary Bettman’s NHL Hour will have Colin Campbell on the air as a guest at around 4pm ET, or so.
The NHL Hour can be streamed live here.
New York (January 10, 2008) – Sales of NHL-licensed product on Shop.NHL.com for December increased 44% compared to the same period last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today. The holiday sales period experienced an additional boost due to the demand for official Amp Energy / NHL Winter Classic merchandise. The most searched term on Shop.NHL.com was “Winter Classic,” while four of the six top-selling items were of the NHL Winter Classic variety.
Twenty-six NHL teams increased online merchandise sales for December 2007. The Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the Amp Energy / NHL Winter Classic, led the pack with a sales increase of 164% in comparison to December 2006. Other teams who experienced a significant increase for December sales year-over-year were the Chicago Blackhawks (92%), Washington Capitals (89%), St. Louis Blues (87%), Buffalo Sabres (85%) and the Anaheim Ducks (84%).
From Mike Chen at Fox Sports,
There are a few teams we’ll know for certain to be buyers, though. Let’s look at the cap space situation for the league’s top eight teams. If you’re wondering where the East Coast love is, don’t blame me. Other than the Sens, no Eastern team has cracked 50 points.
1. Detroit: With a cap space of $5.4 million, the Wings have enough room to make probably one major move for a UFA (paying a portion of his salary for this year). However, between their big-name players, much of their cap is tied up for next year, so don’t anticipate the Wings getting someone who may have a year or two left on his contract. Besides, one glance at Detroit on the ice and the only thing they may actually need is a cup of coffee to make sure they keep running at this pace.
From David Amber at ESPN,
10. Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Montreal Canadiens, 1944-45
Richard established an NHL benchmark for greatness during the 1944-45 season when he became the league’s first 50-goal scorer, accomplishing the feat in just a 50-game season. In a season in which Richard didn’t win a Stanley Cup ring or even the scoring title, the significance of 50 in 50 cannot be diminished. It would take another 16 years before anyone else would manage to score as many as 50 goals in a season (Bernie Geoffrion in a 64-game season). Not until Mike Bossy scored twice in the final five minutes of the Islanders’ 50th game in 1980-81 did another player match Richard’s feat of 50 goals in 50 games. For the Rocket, the 1944-45 season blasted him into iconic status, a superstar in the NHL and a living legend in his home province of Quebec. Considering this was the only season Richard would score 50 goals speaks volumes to how important that number was and still is today in hockey lore.
From the CP,
ART ROSS: When Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up his first Art Ross Trophy last season it was widely believed that it would be the first of many consecutive NHL scoring championships for the 20-year-old superstar. And that’s not to say he won’t end up winning it again this season, because he wasn’t that far away when the league hit its official halfway point over the weekend.
But kudos to Tampa Bay Lightning centre Vincent Lecavalier, who led the league in points for much of the first half. He’s en route to a career season and has sparked some healthy debate about whether he, not Crosby, is the top player in the game right now.
more… including storylines to watch for in the 2nd half of the season
From Jim Kelley at Sportsnet.ca,
Best Team - Detroit Red Wings: There is no second place; only a three-way* tie between Ottawa in the East and San Jose in the West.
The Red Wings are just a joy to watch and at the half have 67 points, and just eight losses. Heck, the Senators, a good team, earlier this season nearly lost that many in a row. Give the Sharks some credit here, almost from the moment certain media types wrote them off as frauds, they’ve started tearing it up and are starting to show that they have grit as well as some talent.
more “bests” and a couple “worsts”
*presumably, that’s meant to read “two-way tie”
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
With the signing of Mike Ribeiro by the Dallas Stars, you can scratch another name off the list of impact forwards who will be available July 1. That list is growing smaller and less impressive by the day, which means the ones who will be available will get better deals because of the laws of supply and demand.
Here are the top forwards who will be available July 1, provided they don’t sign with their teams before then.
Kristian Huselius, Calgary: The hottest player in the NHL since early December, Huselius is incredibly talented with the puck. Jarome Iginla deserves some of the credit here, but Huselius has been outstanding on his own.
plus lots more to pick from…
From Kukla’s blog at NHL.com,
Well, the e-mails have started. I heard the Senators are going to get Mats Sundin. Why do the Bruins want to move Glen Murray? Can Rob Blake still play? I was told the Hurricanes are going to move Eric Staal. Did Alex Ovechkin demand a trade? Will Jaromir Jagr play in Edmonton? Is Markus Naslund on his way out in Vancouver?
The time has come to tell every one of you to relax. The vast majority of the rumors you are hearing are just that – rumors, often made up to attract your interest! Maybe people are bored and want to “stir” the pot a bit. Maybe they really believe what they write. Maybe, just maybe, they are trying to draw you in.
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
What was once a workable arrangement — a group of 34 men and women banding together for a common good — has now become a pit of slithering vipers.
Depending on whom you listen to, the Edmonton Investors Group is either going to sell the Oilers to local billionaire Daryl Katz or tell him to take another hike. The remaining shareholders are either going to buy out those who want to sell, or perhaps a splinter group will form and make an independent offer for the team.
Anything and everything is in play, including the gamesmanship, which is running at an all-time high. Consider what’s happened in the past few weeks.
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