Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Current eight playoff teams: Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings
Predicted eight playoff teams come April: Canadiens, Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Rangers, Capitals, Penguins, Islanders, Red Wings
The skinny: Just one switch, and that's putting the Stanley Cup finalist Lightning back in the mix. They've won three in a row and there's zero chance they don't make the playoffs; there's just too much talent there. I think they've turned the corner, too.
Tough choosing a team to take out from the current eight, but I think the Bruins will fall just short, as they did last season. The Penguins and Islanders are vulnerable, too, but I like their chances just a bit more than Boston's.
Another team I would have liked to have the courage to say will make it back into the mix is Florida, but the young Panthers are just too inconsistent, and while there's plenty of time to figure things out, I just think that's how it's going to be this season for them, some highs and some lows but not quite enough yet to make it in -- the growing pains of a young team learning how to win.
read on for the West...
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
The Flyers ended their franchise's fifth-longest scoring drought earlier in the week, but their offensive funk continued Wednesday night in Brooklyn.
They scored an early goal but didn't generate many quality chances the rest of the night and fell to the New York Islanders, 3-1, at the Barclays Center.
The Flyers haven't scored an even-strength goal in 257 minutes, 58 seconds, more than four games ago. Their last even-strength goal was scored by Claude Giroux on Nov. 17 in a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles.
They have scored one goal, total, in goalie Steve Mason's last three starts.
"It's been a struggle, obviously, the last few games to get the puck in the net, and for the goaltenders there's no room for error right now," said Mason after making 33 saves. "It just puts that much more emphasis on trying to be as perfect as possible. Just go out and focus on stopping the puck, and you just hope that the goals will come."
Watch the game highlights below...
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
It wasn’t pretty. It rarely is against the trap-happy New Jersey Devils.
But the Blue Jackets felt plenty fortunate — maybe even lucky — to have emerged with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night before 13,567 at the Prudential Center.
And, even in victory, it appears that coach John Tortorella is wearing thin on patience.
“A number of things is maddening about our club right now,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about individuals. It was a team effort in sloppiness. We’re lucky we won.
“We have zero habits right now.”
Well, zero good habits, maybe.
Game highlights are below...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Historical rivalries are shaped over time. For so long, the Rangers resided in Shantytown and the Canadiens in a palace. And so within NHL context, Boston has the rivalry with Montreal. Toronto has a rivalry with Montreal. Detroit has a rivalry with Montreal borne from those long-ago battles through the days of the Original Six.
But the Rangers?
Well, there’s a rivalry now.
Isn’t there? Hard to tell after these two, uh, stinkers.
Paul Devorski and NHL players talk about the dialogue between referees and players on the ice during play, and how heated moments can seem tense to outsiders but are just part of the relationship.
“What happened was that we came out and played with half speed, half intensity, made hope plays, just threw the puck to them. We weren’t really willing to work and play honest and try to create. Mentally we were not sharp. Things that we draw up on the board and talk about, then we come out and we’re not ready.
“The intensity part is the main thing, because when that’s not there everything else is following suit.”
-Mike Yeo, head coach of the Minnesota Wild after a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. More on the game from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants.
Watch the game highlights below...
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
Here’s what you need to know about the Ducks’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night:
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“I’ve got to believe it’s the six inches between your ears. To be consistent mentally, you’ve got be focused for the whole game. You can’t just come in there, whether you play six minutes or 26 minutes … you have to come to play and be a pro. Right now we’ve got some guys that don’t come to play all the time. So coaches don’t have a lot of confidence in them. And consequently, they probably don’t have confidence in themselves.”
- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau
- The Ducks have invested a lot of money in a number of players who aren’t delivering much of a return. It is beyond the lack of offensive production as that has run throughout the entire roster, save for the recently hot Corey Perry and the consistent Sami Vatanen. Veteran defender Kevin Bieksa simply has to be better, whether with decision-making in terms of moving the puck or his work in front of the Ducks’ net. Patrick Maroon’s ice time has plummeted behind his ineffectiveness and his turnover that turned into Anthony Duclair’s third-period goal blunted a comeback attempt. One positive sign is Ryan Kesler getting a good bounce off him for goals in consecutive games. But the chemistry that Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg created in the second half of last season and the playoffs has mostly been nonexistent in the offensive end. The team continues to show it's not nearly close to being a finished product.
Game higlights are below...
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
"I can honestly say it probably bothered me for about 12 hours," Duchene said of hearing his name mentioned as a player that could be on the block. "And then it was over.
"It was because of the way I found out," he continued. "We won in Boston, and my first interview, first question the guy asked me was about trade rumours. I hadn't heard anything about it. So it was kind of sprung on me weird, and it took me a second ... it took me a little bit to digest it."
Duchene knows trades are "part of the game," but Wednesday morning, he was able to express just how much he wants to remain in Colorado.
"Obviously I love playing here," he said, "and I want to be here as long as possible, as long as we're able to put a winning team on the ice.
"I'm happy here. I want to be here. I want to be an Av. I feel like those two things are in place right now, so when that happened, probably right away it was tough, but after that it was motivation, if anything. I think my game was there before, but I was able to keep it there after, which was a good thing."
via the CP at TSN,
Coach Michel Therrien said the 2015 NHL MVP and Vezina Trophy winner was sidelined by the same lower-body injury that kept him out for eight games earlier this month. This was his third game back.
"The medical staff was really comfortable and Carey was really comfortable to come back," Therrien said. "If we had any doubt, for sure, we would not take that risk. That's all we can say about it. He tweaked it again tonight. That's why we don't want to take any chance. It's still early in the season, so it's important for us when he plays, he's got to make sure he is healthy."
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
You know all that talk about the Edmonton Oilers being “visually better” on the ice this season? Well, in Carolina, the visuals weren’t pretty.
They are what it says they are in the standings, certainly with their no-show against the Hurricanes Wednesday.
They looked, numbingly, like cellar-dwellers in the 30th-precinct of the National Hockey League. You can talk yourself blue in the face about Jordan Staal’s hoper from behind the net that pinballed off the left skate of Griffin Reinhart and past goalie Anders Nilsson with 16 seconds left in the first period. Or the Justin Faulk pass to Jeff Skinner that ricocheted off his skate-boot and past Nilsson.
Or, the one-in-a-million chain of events 2-1/2 minutes into the second frame as linesman Matt MacPherson stumbled off a faceoff at centre-ice, and trying not to do a face-plant, reached for a lifeline. He grabbed Oilers winger Nail Yakupov, and Yakupov’s left leg bent awkwardly. Not a good play by the zebra, in hindsight, dragging down an unsuspecting player in a scrum.
While Yakupov never returned, he might not be as badly hurt as it looked on TV replay according to folks around the Oilers locker-room.
And that’s certainly not why the Oilers took a knee, losing 4-1 to the Hurricanes.
Watch the Yakupov injury below...
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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