Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
If the Blue Jackets are solidly among the Western Conference’s top eight clubs, and the No. 1 pick can be used to acquire a player whom Howson believes can carry them deep into the playoffs, he might budge.
“Those (first-round picks) are very difficult for me to give up,” Howson said. “But if the deal is right”
The Blue Jackets won’t take on any long term, big-money contracts such as Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lacavalier or the New York Rangers’ Scott Gomez.
They’re willing to spend the money, Howson said, but they must keep payroll space available to keep their cadre of future stars. Steve Mason, Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek, Kris Russell, Nikita Filatov, etc., will need new contracts within the next few seasons.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The team is tight. Confidence is seeping out of the room in the manner of a balloon slowly leaking air. Frustration is mounting.
What’s more, there is a sense of widespread belief within the room that the team’s creativity is being stifled by a system whose tenants are becoming more conservative than Sean Hannity. The Rangers appear to be consumed with not making mistakes rather than attempting to force the opposition into making mistakes of its own. They seem obsessed with limiting scoring chances against, as opposed to generating chances themselves.
They seem, that is, to be following the game plan.
If Renney thought his players were inattentive during the first half hour of practice, the head coach had every right to put his team through the punishing bag skate. The Rangers would be better off, however, if Renney actually exerted his authority during games by enforcing accountability by benching repeat offenders.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The 33-year-old is 6-1-0 in his last seven games with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
“I feel good right now, that I’ve come a long way,” he said. “My ability to stay on my feet longer to react to second plays or even third plays from a balanced position has been a great feeling for me lately.
“I have been fighting my body and my movements this year, and I’ve worked hard to get that back. I just want to be the guy they deserve back there.”
Turco has been the biggest reason for the Stars’ turnaround, providing key stops at critical times and also helping the defense with his ability to handle the puck.
“No matter what you do, your goaltending has to be good,” Tippett said. “It can do so much for the team’s confidence. It can allow players to overcome mistakes, it can change a game with a big stop early or late. Marty has done that for us lately.”
from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,
Winning consistently on home ice and making Verizon Center an unpleasant environment for opponents have long been among Boudreau’s priorities. In his postgame news conferences, he often makes mention of an arena’s “atmosphere” and how it played on the Capitals’ emotions—and ultimately affected the outcome of the game. After Tuesday’s 5-2 win in front of a sparse crowd in New Jersey, for example, Boudreau said the subdued mood at Prudential Center negatively affected both teams but that it mostly dragged down the Devils.
“It was a dead building,” he said. “When we played Florida [a 5-3 loss at Verizon Center on Dec. 2] it was very similar. It’s tough.”
“Dead” might be the last word anyone would use these days to describe the Capitals’ rink, which is gaining a reputation around the league as one of the loudest and most intimidating arenas in the NHL. The Capitals have hosted 14 capacity crowds this season—six more than all of last season—and 10 in the past 11 games.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
The Oilers, still in the hunt for one of the final playoff seeds in the Western Conference, are in need of a winger to play on the Shawn Horcoff-Ales Hemsky line. They also could use help at the faceoff circle, where Horcoff takes most of the draws.
The Bruins would have great interest in ex-Hurricanes winger Erik Cole, the big, smooth-skating winger. He has 12 goals and 22 points in 50 games this season. Cole, 30, who is making $4 million this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Bruins could fit him into the salary cap because they have Marco Sturm’s $3.5 million at their disposal, following the German winger’s season-ending knee surgery.
The Oilers likely would target the likes of winger Vladimir Sobotka (now in Providence) and/or defenseman Matt Hunwick (sidelined with flu-like symptoms) in a swap for Cole.
more on the Bruins…
That’s the number of miles the Sharks will be traveling on their 5 game, 9 day road trip.
PJ Swenson of Sharkspage breaks down the trip!
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,
General manager Brian Lawton scolded his players for failing to back up C Vinny Lecavalier on Tuesday after he fought Islanders tough guy Tim Jackman in defense of a teammate.
“I was extremely, extremely disappointed with our players,” Lawton said Wednesday. “Vinny did the most noble thing he could do in his position outside of scoring, which is stand up for the team, and the team didn’t respond for him. That was very hurtful, disappointing and upsetting.”
continued and I don’t think they will be very happy after the Bolts blew a 3 goal third period lead & losing in OT tonight to the Pens.
from Scott Herhold of the Mercury News,
In the end, it was almost anti-climax, an end to a case never destined for trial. William “Boots’’ Del Biaggio, the man who flew too close to the sun, answered with a single word Wednesday when the clerk in federal court asked how he pled. “Guilty,’’ he said.
And with that, a year’s worth of haggling was all but done. Del Biaggio’s attorney, Elliot Peters, and Assistant U.S. Atty. Tim Crudo had signed off on an agreement that could give Del Biaggio between six and eight-plus years of prison.
continued (may require registration)
added 10:13pm, The Globe and Mail takes a look at this situation as it relates to the Predators…
from Tim Sassone of Between the Circles,
Kane has 1 goal in his last 16 games. Who would have thought this could happen after the way he started?
Can it all be related to the high right ankle sprain he suffered on Dec. 30 in Detroit? Or is Kane getting gun shy from being targeted by the opposition every night?
Maybe gun shy is too strong an indictment. But there was another instance in Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Edmonton where Kane had a lane to the net on a rush and instead went to the left side and tried to pass.
from Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding,
In the West, I believe it’s Vancouver, Minnesota, Columbus, Edmonton and Phoenix competing in for the final two spots.
Some make a case that Dallas is still vulnerable, but the Stars have been prideful since the Sean Avery messiness, and they don’t look like a team that is going to be denied a playoff spot. In the spirit of high brow journalism, I’m ready to declare the Stars a winner well before the polls close.
And I’m not feeling the love for the Nashville Predators, even though they have won three of four. The are too offensive-challenged.
Here are the factors that I believe are crucial for the teams trying to survive in the West:
Vancouver Canucks: As long as Roberto Luongo performs like he’s the top goalie in the West, I think the Canucks will make it
more & a little East talk too…
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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