Kukla's Korner

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Category: NHL-Teams

Afternoon Line

“I think they’ll be a playoff team. There’s a big difference between getting a playoff spot and being a contender for the Cup and I still think they’re a little bit away from that, but I think they’re moving in the right direction.”

-John LeClair on the Philadelphia Flyers.  More from LeClair on the Flyers by Katie Strang of ESPN.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: john+leclair

Cory Sarich Slowly Recovering From Bike Accident

from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,

Sarich had gone out for a morning ride on July 21, taking his hybrid bike along Windermere Loop Road — a challenging, 40-minute training session on a quiet road.

He approached a descent and spotted an oncoming grey Ford F-350 Ford truck. The driver made a left-hand turn in front of him without signalling. Sarich used his brakes and tried to stay in control of his bike but skidded and ended up sliding underneath the vehicle on his stomach.

The driver’s right rear tire had driven over his back, nearly crushing his body. Sarich suffered five cracked vertebrae, burns on his shoulder and wrist from the truck’s muffler, a swollen left arm and leg, a large laceration on his head, and a serious case of road rash.

Shaken, shocked and bleeding extensively, Sarich still managed to stand up and called for help.

“The first thing in my mind was, ‘I’m not going to die here right now, so let’s get this thing moving,'” recalled the Saskatoon native, who was drafted 27th overall in the 1996 NHL entry draft. “I wasn’t sure of the severity of my injuries. I’d worn off all the ends of my fingertips. I was bleeding from everywhere, I had so much road rash.

“My helmet was busted up in probably seven or more pieces. It was just in pieces hanging by the chinstrap and was actually choking me, so good thing I had that on because it helped in saving my life.”

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cory+sarich

Anahim Lake Honors Carey Price

from  Caitlin Thompson of the Coast Mountain News,

The gymnasium of the Anahim Lake School was packed last week as community members turned out to honour one of their own: superstar NHL goalie Carey Price.

In town to promote his new role as First Nations Ambassador for the Breakfast Club of Canada, Price was excitedly received by his biggest fans: the Ulkatcho community.

Price’s remarkable story is well known by now. Of both Ulkatcho and Nuxalk descent, Price was raised on the ice of Anahim Lake, which was little more than backyard creeks and outdoor rinks, with his goalie father always by his side.

“It was just me and my dad a lot of the time,” Price said. “We would spend hours out on the creeks, in the cold.”

At age nine his dad decided he should join a team, so they made the nearly 700-kilometre round trip to Williams Lake a few times a week. It got so taxing that Price’s father Jerry, who had his pilot’s license, bought a small plane and the commute was cut to a more reasonable 45 minutes.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carey+price

Questions Facing The Arizona Coyotes

from Davis Harper of NHL.com,

How much stronger are Arizona's bottom-six forwards? -- This summer the Coyotes acquired Joe Vitale and B.J. Crombeen, two disciplined and physical forwards, to anchor the fourth line. Antoine Vermette, entering the final year of his contract, looks likely to move down to third-line center where he can display his faceoff and forecheck abilities. In all, the additions should help Arizona roll four lines in an unforgiving Pacific Division and Western Conference.

"When you've got players like [Anze] Kopitar, [Ryan] Getzlaf, [Joe] Thornton, players who can exploit you, we need players who can play against them even if they are third- or fourth-line players," Tippett said. "That's what's going to keep us competitive in our division."

Can Mike Smith recover his 2011-12 form? -- If Arizona wants to return to the playoffs and compete for a Stanley Cup, there is perhaps no more important player on the roster than Smith. The goaltender proved this in 2011-12, when he sparked a run to the Western Conference Final. Smith's past two seasons, however, have been marked by inconsistency. After signing a six-year, $34 million contract last summer, Smith allowed 2.64 goals-per-game and had a .915 save percentage.

"Last year I think he was coming off a big contract and put a lot of pressure on himself with the Olympics and all of the above there," Tippett said of Smith's season. "Speaking with him this summer, he just seems like a more relaxed player. He understands his role, and I expect Smitty to have a wonderful year this year."

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Patrick Kane Or Phil Kessel?

from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,

Kessel will turn 27 in October, while Kane hits 26 in November. Which player would you consider a bigger gift to your team?

The case for Kane: In addition to his sublime skills, Kane loves the spotlight. The guy is a star, pure and simple, a fact exemplified by his Cup-winning goal in 2010 and his Conn Smythe performance in 2013. On the ice, his playmaking and vision are what really set Kane apart. Just seven NHLers have registered more total assists than Kane since he entered the league in 2007–08 and only three of those players—Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marty St. Louis—also have more goals. The Buffalo native may possess the softest hands on earth and when you combine that with the audacity to attempt ridiculous plays, you get things like his shootout winner against poor Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild. A born showman with talent to match; sometimes Kane makes it seem like things just aren’t fair.

The case for Kessel: It really starts during the 2011–12 campaign, when Kessel became the point-per-game player he’s been for the past three seasons. He also hasn’t missed a game since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, his first year with Toronto. That ability to avoid injury contributes to Kessel’s standing as one of the surest things in the league. With the Leafs the past few years, you’ve really never known what might happen from one moment to the next. But the one thing you could count on was Kessel showing up to the rink, skating really fast down the right side of the ice and firing deadly wrist shots to all parts of the net. In the past three seasons, the list of guys who’ve scored more total goals than “Phil the Thrill” is limited to Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry....

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: patrick+kane, phil+kessel

Owen Nolan On The San Jose Sharks

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

With a talented group of centers that includes Thornton, Couture and Pavelski, the Sharks remain stacked down the middle, a tremendous asset for any NHL team. Nolan likes the fact that, despite the shock of last April’s hasty exit, the Sharks did not tear down the entire roster in a knee-jerk reaction.

“I’m sure everyone is disappointed in the way they were put out of the playoffs, but I like the way they didn't panic,” Nolan said. “This team, as a whole, is a good hockey team. They didn't panic. They didn't blow the whole thing up.”

“I believe this is a solid hockey team that can win,” Nolan said. “We'll see how they approach [last season's playoff loss]. Hopefully, they don't dwell on it, but feed off of not wanting that to happen.”

Nolan thinks that will be an earnest point of emphasis once camp opens next month -– learning from mistakes of years past, avoiding the reputation of a team that can't deliver when it counts.

“You certainly don't want to be recognized as going out early,” Nolan said. “You'll have that [sick] feeling in your stomach of not wanting to go out that way again.” 

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: owen+nolan

Morning Line

If Trotz and Kuznetsov (not to mention new D-men Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen) can elevate the Caps, Washington will definitely get back to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. And if Kuznetsov is as good as he has trended in his young career, who knows how good the Caps can be in the future.

-Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News where you can read more on Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: evgeny+kuznetsov

All Ben Bishop

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

Do you feel the fact that you were a Vezina Trophy finalist last season means you're a proven goalie in the NHL, or are you still of the mindset that you have to prove yourself the way you've had to your entire career?

"I think I proved to myself and other players that I can play at that level, but I think every year you're trying to go out and prove yourself. You're never going to be satisfied with the past year, you're always trying to build on it. I'm going to approach the year the same way, the way I have the last three years at least. I'm going to go in, win the job out of training camp. You always have people competing for jobs. When I was in St. Louis I was trying to take people's jobs and make the team. You always have that competition. So I have to go into camp the same way I have been doing the last couple of years. I'm not going to change anything. I'm not going to try to do anything different."

But can you treat this training camp the same way when it's obviously different for you to know that you're heading into the season as the unquestioned No. 1 goalie on a team expected to win? This is a first for you.

"Yeah, I mean, if you word it like that it's a first, but personally the way I prepare and the way I play, there hasn't been a change from when I was a backup, or when I was able to start in Ottawa for a month, or last year when I was a starter for the season. You still approach every game the same way. Whatever is going on around you as far as expectations, where you are in the standings, if you're first or last, who you're playing against, I still approach the game the same way. There is nothing different. It's the same routine and preparation no matter where I am, if I am a backup in Ottawa or a starter last year. So I don't see there really being any difference going into this season. I think the experience last year will help me even more this year."

three more questions...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ben+bishop

Blues Happy To Have Paul Stastny

from Louie Korac at NHL.com,

"You don't see him really doing the flashy things or anything like that, but playing with him at the [Winter] Olympics, he makes every part of the game so much easier on his linemates," forward T.J. Oshie said of Stastny. "... He makes the game easier, he makes it more simple and everything's more clear on the ice."

General manager Doug Armstrong got the blessing from team leaders, including captain David Backes and alternate Alexander Steen, to go out and acquire a top-notch player regardless of the cost. If Stastny, who is the highest-paid player on the team, can push the Blues over the edge, then the investment will be more than worth it.

"I think it's a respect for an older, veteran player in 'Steener' and myself knowing that the free-agent market was one where you were going to have to pay a premium for a great player," said Backes, who played with Stastny on the United States team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "There was no hesitation on both parts to say, 'Absolutely, bring a guy like that in.' We're only going to be better for it. Ultimately, we're here to win. We're here to win games. We want to win a championship, and he's going to help us do that.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Avs Feel Like They Are Closing The Gap In The West

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,

Less than a month shy of its preseason opener, the Avalanche is feeling stronger than it was a year ago. The toughness and depth gaps between the Avs and the Los Angeles Kings, defending Stanley Cup champions, along with the Western Conference giant Anaheim Ducks, seem to have diminished.

Executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic, defensive assistant coach Adam Foote and newly signed right winger Jarome Iginla recently spoke about the improvements while trying to maintain their excitement about defending their Central Division title and making another step in the playoffs.

"Last year we were dealing with trying to win back the trust within the community and belief in the team, and this year is a different challenge," Sakic said. "We did so well last year, but (now) it's to improve and get to the next step, and obviously the next step is not to just make the playoffs — it's to improve in the playoffs."

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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