Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
In 1986, Hitchcock and Burns met in the most intense of environments, the Memorial Cup, junior hockey’s version of the Final Four.
Hitchcock, who coached the Kamloops Blazers, was a former sporting goods salesman from Edmonton, Alberta. Burns, who ran the Hull Olympiques, was the police officer still walking the beat in Gatineau, Quebec.
Neither had played professionally. Both had belonged to a workforce bereft of pampering and privilege. The detail-oriented, demanding coaches formed an immediate bond.
“Coaching for a living was a goal; wherever it went, it went,” Hitchcock said. “We both could have stopped at junior and been happy.”
Below find the expanded NHL Standings as of this morning…
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
All season, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire has grumbled that the Wild often enters games with too many “passengers.”
Friday night, after the Wild’s playoff hopes took another Sopranos-like whack to the head during a 4-0 loss in New Jersey, Lemaire grabbed one of the passengers off the bus and threw him underneath the wheels.
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky derailed the evening with two mind-boggling goof-ups on his first two even-strength shifts of the second period.
“You can’t make mistakes like that, not when you’re on the road, playing against a good team,” Lemaire said. “To me, they’re mistakes you have to avoid. You do this once a year—and one time!
“I hate to blame a guy for a loss. The team overall didn’t play good enough to win. But these mistakes, they just don’t help.”
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Their March swoon allowed the surging Vancouver Canucks to leap-frog the Hawks in the race for home-ice advantage. But with a game in hand, the Hawks had their chance to reclaim fourth Friday night with the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center, a team the Hawks had defeated three previous times this season.
But when things are going bad, it doesn’t matter who comes to town as the Hawks fell 5-4 in a shootout in a back-and-forth contest before a crowd of 22,151. The loss was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive and seventh out of their last eight games, but they did manage a point to pull even with the Canucks in the West with 12 games remaining.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
Turns out you can quantify effort.
In the aftermath of last night’s 3-2 defeat to the St. Louis Blues, Flames head coach Mike Keenan had the proof in black and white.
“Probably the most telling stat for me tonight, and it is a compliment of the effort of all the players on St. Louis’ side, is they had 24 blocked shots to our six,” Keenan said. “If you look at that statistic, it’s pretty telling about A) their effort, and B) their desperation to win a game.
“I think they came out with that determination certainly in the third period when we had taken the momentum of the game away from them. They established their game and pushed us out of our game.”
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
We see the Detroit Red Wings give up five, eight and eight goals on successive Saturdays in late February and March and we’re certain that long run to the Stanley Cup last spring can’t possibly be repeated, right? For me, the analytical world we live in today has gone too close to the edge of negativity for my liking (and for the record the Red Wings were 10-1-1 in their first 12 Saturday games this season).
Don’t the Red Wings still have Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart on defense? Isn’t that still Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom and Dan Cleary up front? And isn’t it good enough that the Wings added Marian Hossa to their lineup for a shot at repeating?
Did I forget something? Oh yeah. the goaltending. But aren’t you the same fans that said the Red Wings could win in spite of having Chris Osgood in goal? In 1998? And again last spring?
read on and numerous NHL topics…
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
When they were at their best, the Bruins dominated time of puck possession by transitioning swiftly, employing a straight-line attack, and using their speed and skill to cycle deep in opposing zones.
Recently, general manager Peter Chiarelli has seen his passive players regrouping with the puck far too often, indicating that they’re not confident enough to turn up ice and fly into the teeth of other teams’ defenses.
“Now your forwards have to come back and everything has to move this way instead of that way,” Chiarelli said, pointing to the defensive side of the ice. “I’m not blaming the defensemen. I’m not blaming the forwards. I’m not blaming anybody. It’s something where the confidence isn’t there.”
It’s an affliction that is not unique to the 2008-09 Bruins.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
One giant record broken, the other wobbling. They should attach the replacement netting to Martin Brodeur’s goal cage with Velcro, just to save us all time.
“I think it’s going to be this year,” Devils center Travis Zajac said of the timetable for Brodeur breaking Terry Sawchuk’s 40-year-old NHL record of 103 shutouts.
Fresh from one successful record chase, Brodeur started his second hunt of the month with his fifth shutout in 20 starts this season and the 101st of his career, a 4-0 triumph over the Wild in Newark last night.
“It could be a long time if you guys are going to start that [hoopla],” the Gretzky of Goalies warned.
from Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post,
Let the Great Eight celebrate.
The last thing the NHL needs is to inhibit its most exciting star for the sake of maintaining the decorum that every other major sport abandoned 30 years ago.
That includes Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals’ excellent but old-school coach who apparently paddled Alex Ovechkin in private yesterday, then said: “I’ve never seen him do a celebration like that. But I don’t expect it to happen again.”
If it does, just take a few deep breaths. Join the 21st century, or, for that matter, the last quarter of the 20th. Ovechkin doesn’t need to stop his goal-glorifying antics, not even his controversial premeditated “hot-hot-hot stick” pantomime on Thursday night after scoring his 50th goal of the season.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
The Sabres are just 1-4-1 in the last six games, an ugly number in itself. It’s even more hideous when the Sabres look at what the slump has done to their spot in the Eastern Conference.
On March 7, prior to the collapse, the Sabres were in every postseason conversation. They were tied with Carolina for ninth place with 73 points. Florida, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers had 74. Only one more point and the Sabres were in sixth place.
Now? Sixth place seems further than Siberia. Heck, eighth place may as well be England.
The 10th-place Sabres are five points out of a playoff spot and seven back of sixth. They have 11 games left, starting tonight with a visit to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
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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