Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
On Thursday, the Blue Jackets host Metropolitan Division rival Washington in Nationwide Arena, the start of a five-game homestand. Columbus doesn't hit the road until next year.
With a win, the Blue Jackets will have matched a franchise record with eight straight victories. They'd also match the Chicago Blackhawks (Nov. 26 to Dec. 11) for the longest winning streak in the NHL this season.
"I've liked our attention to detail, our play with the puck," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We can still get better. We have to get better. But you see that we're working hard and doing the right things, and there's a feeling now that we're expecting to have success."
Let's be honest here: Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been the driving force of this win streak. His 52-save performance on Dec. 4 was the second game of the streak, but he's been stellar throughout.
On Nov. 30, Bobrovsky was 5-8-1 with a .907 save percentage and 3.03 goals-against average. Since December started, he's 7-0-0 with a .950 save percentage and a 1.63 goals-against average.
more on the Blue Jackets...
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Berube would not totally commit to the lineup change for Thursday night’s seemingly must-win game against Florida, but hinted at the possibility.
Lecavalier, 34, has not played since Nov. 29 against the Rangers....
“I like the lines as they are, I don’t know what I’ll do,” Berube said. “But I have to give him opportunities, whether it’s power play or whatever. If I bring him in, I’m going to bring him in the middle of the ice. I definitely want to get him more than (5 minutes) for sure. I’m going to try to get him, obviously, more ice time than that.”...
What changed between now and earlier in the week, when Berube didn’t seem open to using Lecavalier again?
“His work ethic was really noticeable,” Berube said. “I thought the beginning of the year, he was skating really well, too. I’m noticing that skating again. He does make plays. He can score. He looks hungry to me and he wants in there. That’s a good sign.”
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
The Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers all earned two points on Tuesday night to pass by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. The more sobering realization: Each of those teams also has games in hand on Boston. The B's 15-13-3 record after the first 31 games is their worst over that number of games in any of the eight seasons that Claude Julien has been coach. If the B's don't find another gear, and soon, this may be the first season a Julien-coached Bruins team doesn't made the playoffs.
more on the Bruins after their 3-2 shootout loss to Nashville last night...
Also from Haggerty,
“You’ve got Zdeno [Chara] coming back as your top defenseman, and you’ve got David Krejci still out and injured,” said Julien to reporters following Tuesday night’s loss in Nashville. “We’ve had our best players out this season, so there’s no doubt that we’ve had to scramble. Now that we’ve got players coming back it’s going to make us better.
“I think we’re making a big deal out of a guy [in Chara] that’s missing two months. The first couple of games were a bit of a challenge, but he’s getting better and finding his game. I told him, and everybody, it’s like training camp for him after he’s been out for two months. It’s like just starting the season when everybody he’s playing with and against him has been going pretty good for the last few months.”
below, a look at the Eastern Conference race including wild card spots...
In startling the hockey world through the first 25 games, these Flames provided themselves enough cushion in the standings to at least partially withstand a tailspin of these dimensions and built up a tonne of good will.
But they need to end this swoon. Or else.
-George Johnson of the Calgary Herald on the Calgary Flames. More from Johnson on the Flames and their six game losing streak.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Fair or not, the perception around the hockey world is that there is a distinct lack of buzz surrounding the NHL's marquee regular-season game.
On social media, much of the early discussion surrounding the tilt between the host Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks has been around the seemingly slow build of enthusiasm for an event that has been a major draw for NHL sponsors, hundreds of thousands of fans at the event and a huge television audience.
Anecdotal? For sure.
Meaningful? Hard to tell, although, to be fair, the NHL is just now swinging into major event mode.
What are your thoughts on the Winter Classic? Is it still considered must watch for the NHL fan?
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...
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