Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger,
Brent Sutter’s squad has faced significant challenges along the way and successfully handled almost all of them. The Devils, who have won four of their last six and 13 of 18, trail the Rangers by four points and the Flyers by two, and are one point ahead of the Penguins.
“I think it has something to do with leadership and something to do with character in your room,” said Sutter, who gave his players a day off Sunday, said of his team’s rise. “It’s a very confident mind-set in the dressing room. It’s been there since Day One of training camp. Guys have worked and played hard and paid attention to what is put in place.
If you hurry, you can watch the Winter Classic ice crew painting the ice at Wrigley. White is going down now and next would be the ice markings, including blueline, redline, etc.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
• Caps center Michael Nylander has been on the trade block almost all season, but word out of Washington is that suddenly the team isn’t quite as keen to move him. He still could very well be moved before the March 4 trade deadline, but the sense is that Caps GM George McPhee isn’t as sold on it as he was before. A big reason is that the Caps are playing so well, so why mess with a good thing?...
• The Los Angeles Kings seem to be turning a corner this season with their rebuilding efforts, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they were to make a major splash July 1 to bolster their youthful core. Marian Hossa, anyone?
more hockey topics…
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Matt Stajan spent Sunday in a hospital with an eye injury and he will be lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs for at least a week as the result of a rowdy soccer game.
Stajan, the Leafs’ No. 1 centre, was hit on the eye with a soccer ball before the Leafs’ practice on Saturday during a warmup exercise common to NHL teams. Players gather in a circle and try to keep the ball in the air as long as possible by kicking or heading it. If a player allows the ball to hit the floor he is out of the game and the game ends when no players are left.
from Capitals Insider,
My name is Slava Malamud. My position is Foreign Correspondent in North America for Sport-Express, Russia’s daily newspaper, the most widely read sports publication in the Motherland…
Tarik and I have decided that in light of the sudden popularity of all things Russian among the Caps fans it would be good to have me occasionally contribute to this blog with stories on this very subject….
Q & A with Alexander Ovechkin
If you and Malkin ever got into a fight on the ice - who would win?
“Whoever landed the first punch. But fighting is not my calling. And really, I don’t see any rivalry between myself and Malkin. Or between myself and Crosby. And now they are adding Semin to our threesome too. There is nothing of that sort: we just play, get our points, someone is in front, someone is second… Of course, a headline like “Ovechkin Versus Malkin” catches the eye, but I don’t see any reason to pour gasoline onto the fire.”
Of all the players you have met on the ice, which one is the most unpleasant?
“Probably (the ex-Penguin, now a Senator) Jarkko Ruutu. He is the dirtiest player and does everything in an underhanded way. Just a rat running around…”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
It’s a derby in which the Maple Leafs, not yet bad enough to get better, must have a horse.
Brian Burke knows it, Dave Nonis knows it and even Ron Wilson, you have to believe, knows it.
John Tavares’ special performance on a big stage for Team Canada in the opening game of the world junior championship in Ottawa on Friday night was just the latest piece of compelling evidence that made it clear the Leafs need to be at least in a position to win the draft lottery and land the No. 1 overall pick next June.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Ovechkin never stops. He is a mix of ferocity and fury; insatiable in his hunger for the puck, his desire to score, his will to win. He is Jim Brown on skates, a dominant physical force of nature who would just as soon go through an opponent as around one (or two, or three). He’s what Rocket Richard must have been like in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
Too bad, though, Ovechkin has approximately one-third the number of All-Star votes as NHL favorite son Sidney Crosby. One-third as many votes as Crosby? Why, the league’s best player has one half as many votes as Alex Kovalev, and just over half as many as the great Alex Tanguay!
The NHL should be embarrassed for itself.
from Michael Obernauer of the NY Daily News,
“I can tell you right now, I’m not happy with the way the team played, I’m not happy with the performance of some very key people on our hockey club who need to be better,” said Tom Renney. “They need to step up and start taking charge of this hockey club and playing the way they can.”
That was foremost a reference to Chris Drury, who played an awful game - he was on the ice for all four Devils goals and was culpable on three of them - and to Scott Gomez, who was barely noticeable except when he was losing 13 of 15 faceoffs.
“We can do a lot better than this, and we can be a lot smarter as a team, too,” said Markus Naslund, Gomez’s linemate on a trio that accomplished nothing Saturday night. “These last two games here are not acceptable.”
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
• Montreal GM Bob Gainey is determined to make a big splash before the NHL trade deadline. League sources confirm he has held talks with the Blackhawks about RW Martin Havlat, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Not only do the Habs want to add a scoring forward, they’d also like to upgrade their weak power play.
• Talk will not go away that the Senators are going to deal C Jason Spezza before the March 4 deadline. If Ottawa continues to lose, Spezza’s name will be tied to more and more potential deals. The word is the eight-game road trip Ottawa is on will go a long way in determining Spezza’s future with the team because he has a no-movement clause that kicks in on July 1.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
It’s clear that there’s one team and one team only for which Avery can play; one city and one city only big enough for him to live; one coach and one coach only - the one behind the Rangers bench - for whom Avery can play.
The mechanics of making it happen are hazy. But those are mere details. The Rangers need an infusion of energy. The Rangers need someone who actually will be tough to play against. The Rangers need Avery almost as badly as he needs them, and if anybody doesn’t like it, he should be playing better.
Because this is pretty much it was before Avery became a Ranger . . . the first time.
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 email@example.com