Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
The real issue on the table but seemingly never discussed is as simple as this: why do players flock to Nashville to play for the Preds but treat Edmonton as hockey’s version of a gulag?
The simple answer: Nashville wins. They do it regularly since they emerged from their expansion pains, they do it in a style that players love to play. Bur there’s more to it than that. They do it in the environs of a small but enthusiastic fan base in a city with a mild climate, countless entertainment options, relatively easy travel, a friendly family environment, surprisingly low-cost housing, no state income tax and, and this is no small consideration, a forward thinking management that believes in stability and a long-term view. Throw in the cream of country-western music talent, much of it tapped to sing the national anthem every night and still more of it playing the bars, clubs, honky-tonks and even the Nashville Arena on non-game nights and well…
more... plus other NHL bits…
Even though the trade and UFA talk is low-keyed this time of year, the talk still exists.
Spector breaks it all down today…
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Thanks to the schedule format, the NHL has become two leagues.
That has been my feeling all along the past two seasons, but it truly sunk in last week when the Avalanche issued a booklet extolling the virtues of Paul Stastny as a candidate for the Calder Trophy, the league’s rookie-of-the-year award.
Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin is the favorite, and if this offends anyone, so be it: I’m planning to put him No. 1 on my ballot and Stastny at No. 2 when the voting is conducted in the next week.
But I’m uneasy, and not out of homerism.
It’s because they might as well be playing in different leagues, and it makes head-to- head comparisons difficult and even a bit unfair.
from the Calgary Herald,
But these days — with the grass greening, with the nerves tingling, with the consequences soaring — you’d better lean on that stick. Hard.
“Oh yeah,” says Stephane Yelle, who’s taken — and won — his fair share of springtime faceoffs. “Everything’s amplified now.”
In case the point is still unclear, the Calgary Flames pivot spells out the ramifications of playoff dot-duty. Seven months of honest toil can come down to a single pressure-packed flick of the wrists — yours.
“A big draw in your own end? It can mean the end of it,” says Yelle. “Or a big draw in the offensive zone? Maybe you get a goal and move on.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
But what if the league decided to try another points system? Would there be a different look to the standings?
For the most part, the answer is there would be slight adjustments, but nothing really jumps out, other than the Ottawa Senators would be a lot closer to divisional rival the Buffalo Sabres and the San Jose Sharks would be ahead of the Anaheim Ducks in their division.
Still, it’s interesting to see where the teams would stand if there was no point awarded for a loss in overtime or shootout (no OTL point), or if the shootout was not implemented and each team would get a point for a tie after completing a scoreless overtime (no shootout). Or if three points were granted for a regular-time win, two points for an overtime or shootout win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss (a 3-2-1 system).
read on for some charts…
from ESPN’s Scott Burnside:
You really want to help eradicate the kind of senseless, potentially devastating hits to the head we’ve seen lately? Why not add a couple of tools to the referees’ tool box?
Referees are expected to call an interference or obstruction penalty if a player without the puck finds his progress impeded. Similarly, an interference call should be made when a player who has just had the puck is hit long after he’s given it up, because he’s being interfered with, right?
Moreover, if a referee had the ability to levy a major penalty for interference, if such a late hit warranted it, wouldn’t that be a good thing? Take the Cam Janssen hit on Tomas Kaberle—a hit that cost the Leafs their best defenseman for three weeks of the playoff drive. No penalty was called on the play, but if the referees had a major penalty for interference in their bag of tricks, it might have been employed then. More important, the implied threat of such a penalty might have given Janssen pause before he headhunted the unsuspecting Kaberle.
Even if Joel Lundqvist didn’t perform what Ren and Stimpy once called the “flying butt pliers” on Nik Kronwall’s hip, I’d say the same thing—these “run-‘em-‘cause-you-can” hits are senseless and silly.
Since when did “the code” say that “finishing your check” means “impale your opponent if at all possible?” Some sort of penalty for stupid “finishes” needs to reel in the Tootoos, Lundqvists, Janssens, and all the morons that believe that taking a run at a player is part of normal forechecking.
fro Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
How close is it? Consider that as of Friday morning, with fewer than 75 games remaining on the schedule, only seven points separated the top 11 teams. Parity has been an NHL buzzword for years now, but the gap between Nos. 1 and 11 at season’s end generally fell between 18 and 25 points (the exception being 2004, the year before the lockout, when it was only 12 points).
There are a lot of teams on fire right now, including the Colorado Avalanche, which is 11-1-2 in its past 14 games and probably won’t make the playoffs, thanks to the Calgary Flames’ recent surge (five wins in a row and counting).
It begs the question: How important is it for a team to be playing well down the stretch, if it has Stanley Cup aspirations? Curiously, the answer is not that important at all.
more... plus hockey talk from all over the world…
from Pierre McGuire at NBC Sports,
Detroit is now the No. 1 team in the Western Conference and it looks like the Red Wings will hold onto that position.
The Wings have talent, veteran presence, and one of the most amazing defensemen to have ever played the game in Nicklas Lidstrom. They also have one of the most underrated coaches in the NHL. Mike Babcock has done one of the best coaches jobs in the NHL….
Babcock can be in your face with his style, but it works. He brought a surprising Anaheim team to within one win of the Stanley Cup in 2003, has won the World Junior Hockey Championship for Canada, and the Men’s World Championship. His coaching pedigree is excellent, but for some reason Babcock never gets any praise.
more... including other NHL topics…
from Loose Change at the Hockey News,
Top 12 Signs Your Team Isn’t Going to Make the Playoffs:
12 Entire roster being fitted for toe tags
11 You live in a city that’s very windy.
10 Leading scorer traded for patio set
9 Fewer blood stains, more grass stains
from On Frozen Blog,
Of course, our perceptions of these professions are premised on myth and an outsider’s necessarily flawed vantage. When you actually get a chance to talk to someone in them, markedly different realities are detailed for you. This was my experience recently in an entirely unplanned and altogether fortuitous exchange I had with a full-time NHL scout. From the moment I confirmed his identity I knew I wanted to pick his hockey head clean of its “a season in the life of” experiences and analyses, for his is a line of work long shrouded behind the scenes, in mystery even, by design.
In this scout I had not only a fertile and fruitful information source but an emblem of hockey’s most impassioned: you don’t go into hockey scouting because the loading gig at Home Depot didn’t come through, you scout — necessarily making unfathomable sacrifices on your personal life — because you possess in inexhaustable fire for life on ice, he told me. He didn’t merely answer my questions in rich detail but created compositions with my readers’ perceived curiosity foremost in mind. He asked of me only that I preserve his anonymity and that of his NHL employer. I happily obliged.
read on... Take some time out today and read both parts of the interview, great stuff…
Thanks to a KK reader for the pointer…
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