Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Brian Costello of The Hockey News,
The time has never been better to expand the NHL playoff structure from 16 to 20 teams.
It’s way overdue. Come on, way back in the days of the Original 21, it was a 16-team playoff format. So the pool of non-playoff teams has risen from five to 14 without so much as a revision? Doesn’t make sense.
The time is right for a few reasons.
(a) More parity in the NHL than ever before. In the Eastern Conference this season, there’s a clear gap between the 10th-place team and the 11th-place team. That’s a natural dividing line. In the Western Conference, 11 teams are in contention for just the final four spots. It’s a shame that seven of them will miss the post-season dance.
Some big games today, including early matchups between Washington/Boston and Florida/New Jersey starting at 1:00pm ET.
A few of the ‘keys’ I look at when trying to decide what playoff bubble teams will actually make it into the second season is road/home games left and who are their opponents in these games.
The NHL provided a chart listing those key features and you can view it below along with today’s NHL schedule.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Most observers are keeping their eyes on Connolly. The gifted, oft-injured playmaker will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The sides have been discussing a contract extension. If talks prove futile — or if juicy offers come Regier’s way — the Sabres may decide to deal Connolly for assets that would help them now and next season.
After Friday’s workout in the Islanders’ practice facility, Connolly firmly stated what he wants.
“The No. 1 option is to stay in Buffalo,” the center said. “Right now I don’t think about that too much. I think about how important these games are and how important it is to win hockey games right now and make the playoffs.”
from Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun,
There’s a common conception out there that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin—with some debate about the order—are the best two players in the NHL.
While they are certainly the most bankable stars in the game—and Ovechkin is easily the most exciting forward to come along since Teemu Selanne exploded onto the scene in Winnipeg back in the early ‘90s—you could argue neither cis the best player in the NHL this season.
Your argument probably wouldn’t hold water with regard to Ovechkin, who is the top sniper in the game and leads the league with 44 goals, but you could make it just for fun anyway.
Countryman Evgeni Malkin is giving Ovechkin a run for his money, leading the NHL in scoring with 88 points heading into last night’s games, but he’s not as complete a player and is still in Alexander the Great’s shadow.
A better argument might be made for Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, who is not only one of the league’s best defensive players (he won the Selke Trophy last season) but is fourth in scoring with 75 points.
That rare combination of offensive and defensive skill puts Datsyuk in a class with players like Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Doug Gilmour and makes him a great candidate for the Hart Trophy this season.
continued with more candidates…
from a team of writers at the Globe and Mail,
Needs A defensive forward. The Vancouver Canucks are having success with former checkers Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows on the top two lines, and a shut-down centre would ensure they stayed there. A versatile bottom-six forward would bolster depth, push incumbents and give head coach Alain Vigneault line-matching options. Longer term, four of Vancouver’s top six forwards are unrestricted free agents this summer (Mats Sundin, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Burrows).
Tradable commodities Left winger Mason Raymond, a young speedster who hasn’t taken advantage of opportunities this season, is on a cheap contract and has potential. Disappointing winger Taylor Pyatt is also available.
read on for the five other Canadian teams…
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
First, he had to inform center Glen Metropolit he’d been claimed off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens and would be playing against the Flyers a few hours later.
Then he had to tell defenseman Ossi Vaananen he, too, was claimed and was heading to the Vancouver Canucks.
Then came word from Danny Briere that his nagging groin pain would not allow him to return to the lineup Friday night.
“When I talked to him (Friday) afternoon he told me he’s not quite there yet,” Holmgren said. “His words were, “In my mind I’m not 100 percent,’ and it’s not in our best interests to put him at risk.”...
With Florida Panthers general manager Jacques Martin back in Philadelphia for the second time in three nights, Holmgren acknowledged he has inquired about defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
more on the Flyers…
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
Last year’s trade deadline day was nothing doing for the Calgary Flames.
Brace yourself for a repeat performance.
Flames GM Darryl Sutter said yesterday he doesn’t foresee making a bunch of deals, if any at all, before the NHL trade deadline comes Wednesday.
“I don’t see any reason to disrupt the chemistry of the dressing room unless we’re in a position to make a significant upgrade,” Sutter said.
“You try and do good work in the summer, and then, you test your team and see if they’re passing. We have a really good hockey club, so the only thing that affects us is evaluating young players if they’re ready for the stretch, injuries—which are obviously a major concern to us—and that’s it.”
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
Each season, Campbell says, one or two teams think they are “getting a raw deal,” sparking anger and conspiracy theories. He acknowledges that the Blue Jackets are one of those teams this season.
The Jackets are 1-6 on video reviews, according to league-issued, play-by-play summaries. Two disallowed goals—one by captain Rick Nash on Oct. 25 in Minnesota, the other by Manny Malhotra on Dec. 18 in Dallas—loom large for a franchise trying to make its first playoff appearance.
Campbell said he empathizes with all NHL fans who feel wronged but emphasizes that past calls will have no bearing on the next review.
“It would be easy to say, ‘It’s Columbus, they’ve got to make the playoffs this year and they have had a couple of tough calls go against them and they need this one,’ ” he said. “But we can’t do that.”
More than goals
Some Blue Jackets fans swear that Toronto’s injustice toward them goes back several seasons. Peruse the Internet long enough, though, and you will find similar stories and controversies involving other franchises.
from Steve Gorten of Florida Panthers blog at the Sun-Sentinel,
I spoke to Nick Boynton by phone on Friday, and as you might expect, he said, “I’m pretty upset about waking up this morning and getting sent home.” He also said he was still in a little bit of shock.
I understand where Boynton is coming from. I also understand where coach Pete DeBoer and general manager Jacques Martin are coming from.
I think the argument between DeBoer and Boynton after Thursday’s game was a little more heated than Boynton described it—although Boynton admitted he raised his voice and used an expletive when asking DeBoer if he was good enough to play—but definitely not so intense that Boynton charged in and got in DeBoer’s face.
First, Boynton’s side.
from CBC Sports,
Teams can be reluctant to drop everyday roster players because they’re still clinging to faint playoff hopes, and there’s also the difficulty of making a team’s pieces fit ahead of what will be a salary cap curb. Because of that, many teams are buying and selling.
The designations are at least mildly inadequate these days, so we instead take the trade temperature of the 24 U.S. clubs ahead of the March 4 trade deadline.
Anaheim Ducks: Warm
Anaheim followed Carolina as Stanley Cup champion, and they seem to now be imitating the Hurricanes as a team that could just as easily miss the playoffs as do damage there. To compound the problems, they have two future Hall of Famers on the blue line who can’t just be shipped off to some cellar-dwelling club.
read on for all US based teams…
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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