Kukla's Korner Hockey
ESPN.com NHL writers Scott Burnside (based in Atlanta) and Pierre LeBrun (based in Toronto), who duke it out over any given hockey topic. Let the games begin!
This week’s topic: Who are the front-runners for the Hart Trophy and other major NHL awards?
Scott Burnside: Bonjour, mon ami. Le gateau est sur la table. That’s French for “Hello, my friend. The cake is on the table.” That’s my lead-in to a discussion of some of the major trophies that will be awarded after the regular season. Seems like people are just noticing the guy in Pittsburgh, Evgeni Malkin, who has a 10-point lead over teammate Sidney Crosby before Thursday’s action and a nine-point cushion over the guy I think many believe is a lock to win the Hart Trophy as MVP, Alexander Ovechkin. For my money, the vote is a no-brainer—Malkin has been the main man behind the Penguins’ revival in the second half of this season. Your thoughts?
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Not everyone wants to play the game, but for the statistically driven among NHL GMs, coaches and players – and there are lots of those – the primary exercise at this time of year is projecting The Number: That is, the number of points that gets you into the playoffs.
The Number has dramatically changed over the years; it has risen as a result of expansion; it rose again after the introduction of overtime; and in the first two post-lockout seasons; it skyrocketed for a third time after the shootout was adopted to put an end to the tie game.
Consider that back in the 21-team NHL, a really awful team could squeeze into the playoffs with a very low number if it happened to be playing in the right division.
continued plus other NHL topics…
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced today that forward Keith Tkachuk’s X-rays on his left wrist were negative and he is listed as day-to-day. Tkachuk suffered the injury in the third period on Thursday, March 19 in Vancouver.
This should clear up the erroneous report posted on the web that he had suffered a broken wrist.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have activated forward Justin Williams off the injured reserve list, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today. The Kings today also recalled defenseman Davis Drewiske from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
And frankly I didn’t see anything wrong with the NHL’s most charismatic player going a little overboard to celebrate his monumental goal, just the way I can still see Theo Fleury racing to centre ice, dropping to his knees and spinning with his arm pumping the air in one of the most enthusiastic goal celebrations in NHL history.
So when my colleague Nick Kypreos went on the air after the Leafs game and ripped Ovechkin, I thought he was just nitpicking, a la Don Cherry who is sure to rip the Russian Saturday night on Coach’s Corner.
After he was off the air, Kyper continued his rant and I continued to disagree with him. Right up until he said to me, “Would you want either of your boys to do that?”
Without hesitation I responded, “nope.”
from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun,
Luongo stopped 30 shots for his sixth shutout of the season and first since early November and Burrows snapped a scoreless tie late in the second as the Canucks won for the 11th straight time on home ice with a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Canuck coach Alain Vigneault credited the media for the win.
“In my mind I think you guys should be first star,” Vigneault joked after the game. “You pissed him (Luongo) off and look how well he played.”
Luongo was not happy about stories earlier in the week that focused on recent soft goals he had surrendered and his shaky play with the puck outside his crease.
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
It’s a curious time for Russians to be in positions of such individual dominance in the NHL.
And a dangerous time, at least for those Canadians who dream of winning Olympic gold on home soil next February in Vancouver.
Russia, you see, is supplying fewer and fewer players to the NHL these days, with only 31 skaters and goaltenders having played for the league’s 30 teams this season.
That’s about 3 per cent of the league’s total playing population and about half the number of Russians that were in the NHL a decade ago.
At the same time, however, Mother Russia’s athletes have never soared on North American rinks in quite the style they do now.
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider,
He (Mike Green) seemed to be moving okay. But he definitely is not “fine” as both he and Coach Bruce Boudreau said after the Caps’ 5-2 win. If had to speculate, I would guess that he’s got an abdominal or oblique strain.
The team has not provided an official update on his status.
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Back to this year’s Western Conference race for a moment. After last night’s late games, 12 points separated fourth-place Vancouver and 12th-place St. Louis. But maybe more to the point, there were only six points separating the sixth-place Blue Jackets and the Blues. Four teams that are currently out of the eight playoff spots are two wins from being in.
Hitchcock said basically said this tight playoff race may be pretty much the status quo from now on.
“This is the wave of the future,” he said. “This is it. When you look at the young teams, the young teams are going to be better next year and they’re right in the race now. So how many of those teams are going to be in the dog pile? I foresee a situation where you could have 15 teams going for eight spots and getting it down to seven or eight games, and all 15 teams are still in the mix. I see a day that’s gonna come.”
more from Hitchcock…
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Driving to the glitzy BankAtlantic Center here on the fringe of the Everglades, Peter DeBoer’s mug can be seen plastered on various billboards along the way.
The billboards are part of an ad campaign promoting the “Panthers Promise,” an innovative plan in which fans purchasing the four-game ticket pack will get priority purchasing rights for the post-season.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the Panthers will make the playoffs. If they, in fact, do not, fans who have invested in the Panthers Promise Plan will get free tickets to four games in 2009-10.
Asked if seeing himself on all these larger-than-life signs makes him the so-called “face” of the franchise, DeBoer chuckled.
“For (the fans’ sake), I hope not,” he laughed.
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