Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
The goaltending question has reared its uneasy head once again. It also has the looks of one that will be revisited throughout the year, one the Ducks will need to get straightened out before the playoffs – assuming the current NHL points leader stays in its lofty position.
This is the team that used three netminders in their eventual seven-game loss to the Kings in the 2014 second round. Frederik Andersen’s wobbly effort against the Maple Leafs and the sheer presence of Ilya Bryzgalov doesn’t give the impression that everything is set in their net.
Did Andersen struggle because he’s simply need a rest? Maybe. He’s been in for 19 straight games and had just come off three starts of allowing just four goals total to Edmonton (twice) and Winnipeg.
In case you missed my tweet on this earlier today...
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
Sidney Crosby skated on his own before practice today at CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford said.
Crosby has passed the infectious period for the mumps. Today was the start of his on- and off-ice preparations to return to the team.
Rutherford also announced that Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta were not feeling well and were being tested for the mumps as a precaution.
All Penguins players were tested for the mumps in early December and all tested negative at that time.
WINTER CLASSIC WEBCAM NOW ONLINE
A live webcam of the rink build for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park is now available via NHL.com.
ICYMI: Click here for a recap of the first episode of Road to the NHL Winter Classic, which premiered on Tuesday.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
Before the season, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he was going to pay especially close attention to how his team performed against the league's elite teams. Putting up points during the regular season hasn't been St. Louis' problem, it's been finding that extra gear in the postseason against the best teams in the league like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
So Tuesday night's 5-2 win over the Kings must have been gratifying. The Blues scored five unanswered goals, continuing to roll at home behind a hat trick from emerging superstar Vladimir Tarasenko.
If the Blues are going to finally break through and advance past the best in the West it will be because of the maturation and improved play of the young core -- players like Tarasenko. Things certainly look promising on that front so far this season.
read on for Burnside on the Panthers, LeBrun in Justin Williams and Strang on Columbus....
What they lack in stature, they more than make up for with heart, Ivanka Osmak and Ken Reid count down the top 25 greatest short players in NHL history.
Watch the 23 minute feature below...
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
Perhaps it’s time to cut Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf some slack instead of cutting him up all the time, as the media and Leafs fans tend to do in abundance. Myself included.
Guess what? Whipping boy Phaneuf is a plus-14 this season. The Leafs captain has also been on the ice for 54 goals for, tied (heading into Tuesday’s game against Anaheim) with Calgary’s TJ Brodie for the NHL lead. And playing along defensive partner Cody Franson, Phaneuf almost always plays against the opposition’s top line.
Everyone dumps on him when the Leafs are in the doldrums. But when things are going well (as they have since a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Nov. 20), the praise hasn’t come with the same frequency. Maybe it’s the having-a-Hollywood-wife thing. Who knows.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
The Jets are now down three of their top defencemen; Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba.
Cheveldayoff has proven effective in the patience game, but this may be the time for him to be more forceful.
The Jets need help on the blue-line and short of finding an out-of-work free agent, it will fall to Cheveldayoff to manufacture a trade. No one should expect a blockbuster, or for Winnipeg to overpay.
Giving more than fair market value would be foolish and this team hasn't shown it's worthy of the GM paying a heavy price to get them over the top.
There is, however, something to be said for rewarding these players for what they've accomplished to date this season.
This group has done all coach Paul Maurice has asked of them. They've adopted a defence-first style and they've played for one another.
Now they need some help. They need a booster shot only Cheveldayoff can deliver.
from Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal,
“Point three seconds,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I couldn’t believe it. I looked up, thinking it would be five seconds, 10 seconds. Of course, it has to be under a second left.” ...
With just three tenths of a second left on the overtime clock, Martin Erat slipped around Nugent-Hopkins with the puck and before the Oilers could say shootout, Oliver Ekman-Larsson beat Ben Scrivens with the winner.
“Heartbreaker,” said (Todd) Nelson. “I think there were five seconds left, the play was on the wall near our bench, and all of a sudden, they have a rush and Larsson makes a great shot.”
“It sucks. It really does. It’s just like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” said captain Andrew Ference. “Those plays are extremely frustrating, but you can’t toss the positives out of the window. We were playing for the win.
“Yeah, the final play of the game sticks with you, and it’s hard to shake off, but you can’t constantly beat yourself up about it.”
more on the game and watch the Oliver Ekman-Larsson goal below...
On St. Louis capitalizing on momentum:
I didn’t really see it like that. I think that we’ve got to get a save in there somewhere. It’s frustrating.
On the team having been strong at protecting leads:
It’s not the same team. It’s quite a bit different team on the back end, and I’ve said all along we need great goaltending.
LA Kings head coach Darryl Sutter after losing 5-2 to the St. Louis Blues, via Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.
"things aren't coming easy for us--have to find a way to get some wins here. You look at the standings, we're behind the eight ball"
"hasn't been an easy year at all and we need to find ways to grind it out, start getting wins & start feeling good about ourselves"
-Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins after losing 3-2 to the Nashville Predators in a shootout. Quotes via the Boston Bruins twitter account.
6.5 out of 10 for me.
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