Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Dupont at NBC Sports,
Hey, where have these guys been? For those who lost track this season of the Red Wings, forgotten among the Western Conference also-rans, suddenly the Winged Wheels are anything but past tense.
In fact, the Wings could win the whole thing, which wouldn’t be all that novel (four Cup wins dating back to ‘97), but it would remind us all once more the key of the regular season is: survive to thrive.
As recently as the mid-Februrary Olympic break, the Wings remained in the ‘‘We’ll-get-it-together-maybe-one-of-these-days’’ mode, still unable to inch their way into the playoff-qualifying top eight seeds. Then March became their month to roar, including a dazzling 11-2-1 run through March 29 that has them leapfrogging up the standings.
continued plus more hockey talk…
from Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago,
If the Hawks need further motivation for Tuesday night’s contest against the Blues, how about this: They are the only team in the NHL this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, not to endure a three-game, regulation losing streak. In other words, they have not gone three games this season without getting at least a point. That could end Tuesday evening.
Joel Quenneville continues to mix and match his lineup, though he will leave his top two pairs of defensemen unchanged from last game. That means Brent Sopel and Duncan Keith will skate together again, though they were minus two against Columbus on Sunday. Sopel has taken his fair share of criticism and is an even player for the season. That’s worst amongst the Hawks’ defensemen.
“One thing about Sopel, I think he’s a pretty smart player,” Joel Quenneville said in defense of the veteran. “Defensively, his positioning is always in the right spot. I think his smarts puts him in a lot of great spots. I was fine with his game.”
from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
After today’s morning skate, Terry Murray was asked what his message was to the team today. There is plenty of subtext to today’s game, with the ever-tight playoff race, the Kings’ four-game winless streak and their seven-game winless streak against the Nashville Predators. The Kings held a morning skate today, which isn’t typical before the second of back-to-back games. Also not typical is the fact that 14 skaters, and all three goalies, participated, a larger-than-normal number for any optional skate. Afterward, Murray talked about his message to the team…
MURRAY: “This is part of a process that you go through, and I’ve seen it with other teams that I’ve coached. We’re a little bit on that `afraid to win’ side right now, where your game is a little out of sync and the hesitancy is there in the early part of the game. As we go into later in the game and we’re down by a goal, two goals, now we start to play the way that we have shown most of the year.
from Team !040 Radio,
Shane O’Brien is in the bad books at GM Place, as the bruising blueliner will not go on the Canucks’ upcoming trip to Southern California and will have to wait until Sunday to find out what his future is with the Canucks.
Alain Vigneault wouldn’t give any further details on why the Canucks felt they needed to take the firm line with O’Brien, but didn’t sound impressed after Tuesday’s pre-game skate.
via the Philadelphia Flyers Twitter,
Carcillo gets two game suspension for his unintentional high stick on Sunday against New Jersey.
TORONTO (March 30, 2010) – Philadelphia Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo has been suspended for two games, without pay, as a result of delivering a cross check to the head of New Jersey forward David Clarkson during NHL Game #1125, March 28, the National Hockey League announced today.
The incident took place at 15:14 of the third period and Carcillo was assessed a match penalty and game misconduct for attempt to injure.
Carcillo, who was suspended for four games on December 5, 2009, is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Accordingly, he forfeits $21,798.78 in salary, based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (193). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Things sometimes look worse than they are because the urgency to win simply isn’t there. It’s human nature. Of course, if you’re Chicago, and you’re talking goaltending, well, that’s a problem that isn’t necessarily overstated regardless of how meaningless the games are at this stage of the season.
Which brings us to Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, who took a rare home game off this week after looking shaky in a loss to Edmonton and talked to reporters about how he needs to be more consistent and how mentally and physically draining the past few months have been. Fair enough.
But these past few days have to make Vancouver fans more than a little nervous. Even though Luongo did manage to come on and help lead Canada to an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver last month, there remains a niggling doubt about the mental toughness of the Canucks’ franchise netminder.
The Canucks are as good a team as there is in the Western Conference when Luongo is on. Would it surprise anyone if they marched to a conference final or beyond? No. But as good as the Canucks might be, unless Luongo’s head is in the right space, they aren’t good enough to beat a team like Detroit or Nashville, one of whom they’ll likely draw in the first round, or frankly anyone else.
more plus other NHL topics…
My views on H2H at NHL.com today.
Tony of the Confluence mentioned a few days ago that he would be interested in doing something like this for the Penguins fan base and I urged him to do so.
Unless you where there, you really don’t know how great of an event it was.
from Mark Everson of the NY Post,
Lou Lamoriello has a tiger by the tail, and if he lets go of Kovalchuk, it could come back to bite him. Imagine the fan fallout should the Rangers sign him up, as they did Scott Gomez and Bobby Holik.
The Devils have not won a Cup since they lost Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski and Gomez to free agency. They probably never possessed an offensive star in his prime, like Kovalchuk, in their history. He surely never had a team with such immediate aspirations or possibilities.
Kovalchuk has yet to win a playoff game, and this seems his chance. If the Devils are serious about promoting themselves to the status they’ve earned, but never embraced, he is their chance.
Still, it is believed that not much has happened regarding negotiations. The Devils’ failure to move in advance of July 1 has been blamed by many departees as a needless launch towards free agency
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Jackets’ spotty drafting record has played an integral role in their lack of success. The club has traded away four of its 10 first-round selections. But only their 57-point second season has earned them a top-three pick, which they traded for the right to select Nash.
Meanwhile, Jackets fans have watched clubs such as Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago evolve from rock bottom to rock solid by hitting on dynamic high-end picks.
The Penguins, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, drafted Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Crosby and Jordan Staal in a remarkable four-year stretch from 2003 to 2006. No pick was lower than No.2 overall, although they traded up to get Fleury.
“When you are picking that high, it does reduce the chance of error,” Jackets general manager Scott Howson said. “We got a real good one with Rick (Nash).
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.
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