Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So, when does meltdown occur in Ottawa?
Not sure about the exact timing, but the clock is surely ticking. Not only are the Ottawa Senators looking less and less like a playoff team, they’re looking more and more like a draft lottery team….
The challenge for Murray is that he is practically bereft of attractive assets to move beyond rock-solid defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who must stand as one of the team’s very few untouchables (along with captain Daniel Alfredsson). No one is going to be interested in Jason Smith at $2.6 million this year and next. Dany Heatley? With a $35 million price tag, plus what’s left of a $10 million tab this year, he’s hardly going to fit into most teams’ budgets. In other words: Yikes.
read on plus more questions and answers from Burnside…
from E.J. Hradek of ESPN,
Most of these guys aren’t dynamic league leaders. Rather, they’re skaters or stoppers who are having good seasons and really helping their respective clubs. Although a couple dozen guys could qualify for the list, I’ve decided to settle on 10. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to let me know.
Travis Zajac, C, Devils (10-16-26, plus-12). Let’s start with Z. This 23-year-old Winnipeg native was selected with the 20th overall pick in 2004 and seems to be finding his way in his third pro season….
Duncan Keith, D, Blackhawks (4-14-18, plus-19). In Chicago, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews get most of the attention. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, Keith has quietly become one of the top defensemen in the league.
NEW YORK (Dec. 29, 2008)—Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Atlanta Thrashers center Bryan Little and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending Dec. 28.
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Luc Bourdon, Alexei Cherepanov, Mickey Renaud, each still blossoming as an athlete and a human being, also died this year, long before they had the chance to best manifest their talents.
But above and beyond those gut-wrenching goodbyes, there just seemed to be something inescapably melancholy in virtually every facet of the hockey world this year.
There was ‘Boots’ Del Biaggio’s expensive, heartbreaking charade in Nashville and the myriad of questions it raised about the NHL’s leadership group.
In Tampa Bay, new owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules rode to the team’s rescue and promised an adventure for Lightning fans.
Blood and urine samples taken from Alexei Cherepanov shows he had engaged in blood doping.
More from the AP via USA TODAY
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
From the aforementioned list only Vachon, in the early 1970s, provided top-notch goaltending for more than a few seasons. The Kings’ inability to find and develop elite goalies transcends generations and general managers and generally defies common sense.
That’s why it’s tempting to get excited about Quick, who has two shutouts in his first four starts this season and will start for the fifth consecutive time when the Kings play the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Staples Center.
He stays square to the shooters. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s competitive and he’s a quick learner—after being banished to the ECHL last season because he showed up late to a couple of practices, he now takes practice as seriously as games.
“To his credit, he actually handled it pretty well,” General Manager Dean Lombardi said.
Son of a father who’s a route salesman for Entenmann’s bakery and does construction work on the side, the 22-year-old native of Milford, Conn., knows the value of hard work.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
With 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points, while at the same time being a plus player this season, Souray has not just been a big shot from the point but a complete player at his position.
Scoring the game winner in each of the previous two games and producing a goal and an assist when it mattered most in last night’s 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators, Souray became the Oilers’ top goal scorer for the season to put him on pace to duplicate his 64-point Montreal Canadiens 2006-07 season and do it without that massive minus.
“You are always a work in progress but I don’t think people knew me well enough, or had seen me play enough,” said Souray of those who thought his acquisition was a major mistake by the then general manager….”
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
A sneak peak at some potential 2009 hockey headlines:
Guy in a Cubs hat leaning over the glass at Wrigley Field accidentally deflects a puck into the Chicago net, giving Detroit the Winter Classic.
Insisting that John Ferguson had laid the groundwork, Brian Burke denies tampering in the Leafs’ 10-player deadline deal with Anaheim.
read on plus more hockey notes…
from Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
The Hawks set a record for the 82-year-old franchise Sunday night with their ninth consecutive victory, a tidy 4-1 decision over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
“I kind of feel like the Boston Celtics a little,” captain Jonathan Toews said.
It might be more appropriate for the Hawks to feel like the Detroit Red Wings, whom they now trail by only 4 points in the Central Division.
Next up: back-to-back games with the defending Stanley Cup champs, including Thursday’s Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
“I think we can win every night,” said Dustin Byfuglien, whose 2 first-period goals got the Hawks off to a fast start. “We’ve got the group of guys and the work ethic to go out and beat any team we want to beat.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
It’s fine for Tom Renney to call out “very key members of our hockey club who need to better,” as he did without naming names following Saturday’s 4-2 loss at the Garden to the Devils New Jersey Devils , but the head coach’s words won’t mean a thing unless he’s willing to back them up.
Which means benching and/or scratching those athletes who consistently fail to play to their capabilities, regardless of the names on the back of their uniforms, the letters on the front, or the numbers on their paychecks.
And that means Chris Drury Chris Drury , the captain who has had a distinctly disappointing Year II on Broadway. That means Scott Gomez Scott Gomez , the alternate captain who is playing the worst hockey of his life. That means Wade Redden, who for most of the season has appeared so unaccountably detached from the action around him.
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