Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
After playing the final two games of the regular season with only 15 skaters, three short of the NHL maximum, the Calgary Flames had a cast of thousands out for Tuesday’s final day of practice, prior to the start of their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Altogether, 31 players skated including Mark Giordano, out recovering from shoulder surgery, who left before the contact drills and isn’t close to returning. Robyn Regehr, out with a suspected medial collateral ligament tear, was nowhere to be seen. Another defenceman Cory Sarich, recovering from a suspected broken ankle, skated on his own at 8 a.m. and is not scheduled to play in Wednesday night’s opening game.
As a result, the defence pairs for the opener figure to be Dion Phaneuf-Jordan Leopold; Adrian Aucoin-Adam Pardy; and Jim Vandermeer-Anders Eriksson. Eriksson rejoined the team today after clearing re-entry waivers.
from Ed Moran of the Philadelphia News,
There have been rumors all season that Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher would make it back on the ice in time for the playoffs.
And this morning, there he was.
But don’t get ahead. Hatcher is joining the team in a player/coach role and will be traveling with the Flyers through the playoffs.
“Paul [Holmgren, general manager] just asked me to travel with the team yesterday,” Hatcher said. “Obviously I said yes. They want me to be more of a player role than a coaching role and be around the guys, joke around, help them out when I can or whatever.”
from Bruce MacLeod of Red Wings Corner,
An undisclosed injury will keep Kris Draper sidelined for Games 1 and 2 of the Columbus series, at least. Draper was hurt during last Monday’s game in Buffalo. He tested his injury at the start of today’s practice, centering the fourth line, but near the end of the one-hour workout, Draper left the ice.
“This time of year, it’s not easy to handle, but it’s basically where we’re at right no,” said a glum Draper. “I just have to deal with this for Game 1 and Game 2 and we’ll go from there.”
With Draper gone, Darren Helm becomes the fourth-line center with Kirk Maltby and Tomas Kopecky on his wings.
The one problem with that scenario is that Dan Cleary left today’s practice injured, apparently hurt by a Niklas Kronwall hit into the boards during an early drill.
from John Buccigross of ESPN,
The playoffs are here.
For players, coaches and fans, this is the time of year when hockey becomes an all-consuming ordeal. From the time you wake up in the morning on game day until the time they drop the puck at night, your stomach is in knots thinking about and waiting for the game to begin. It’s the same kind of knots you feel after a Raisin Bran-baked beans-blueberries all-you-can-eat fest at the local senior center. The playoff excitement, coupled with the slow warming of the weather, makes this time of year especially euphoric. The air smells better, the music sounds better and the cheese melts easier.
These are the good ol’ days. Enjoy them.
read on for predictions…
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres need to be more like Ryan Miller. Or, at the very least, they need to write down what he said, tape it to their walls and read the words daily during this second long summer in a row.
The franchise goaltender stood in front of his stall in HSBC Arena on locker-cleanout day and started with a caveat. He said it was too soon to make a list of what went wrong because the season ended just days ago. He said he needed time to digest things.
Then, for more than 10 minutes, Miller passionately and articulately described exactly what went wrong and how the Sabres can fix it. He provided the map the Sabres can use to find the way back to successes like 2006 and 2007, when they went to consecutive Eastern Conference finals.
The road to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2009-10 starts with establishing an identity, finding a pulse for the dressing room.
“We’ve got to get back to some of the years we had a few years ago,” Miller said.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Coach Andy Murray already has a theme:
“The Power of Now.”
That’s Murray’s message to the Blues players as the coach attempts to transition his squad into a playoff mind-set.
Murray, speaking on our 101.1 FM radio show Monday, said the “Power of Now” is all about seizing the opportunity that’s sitting in front of you. He said it applies to veterans such as Keith Tkachuk and other Blues elders, who don’t have much time left in their careers. And it also applies to the youngsters, who need to know that these opportunities are precious and can’t be taken for granted.
“Is this our best chance to win a Stanley Cup? It’s the chance we have right now, and it’s all that matters,” Murray said. “And considering the way we’ve played, we’ve got as good a chance as all the other teams in the playoffs right now.”
from John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal,
Fire some players; keep the coach.
In a world where some believe firing the coach is a mission statement, not a cliche, that surely would be a refreshing approach for the Oilers to adopt following a failed season.
And since head coach Craig MacTavish would not discuss his future at his media briefing on Monday, it may be the decision about his tenure has not yet been taken.
If so, it would certainly be a gutsy move by GM Steve Tambellini—who has yet to assert himself in that role in this city—to demonstrate publicly he not only has his head coach’s back, he wants him back next season.
from Al Balderas at Ducks Blog,
True to form, Carlyle refused to say whether Jean-Sebastien Giguere or Jonas Hiller will lead the team on the ice in San Jose Thursday.
He did say that he has confidence in both, referring to them as Goalie 1A and 1B, without saying which was which. Carlyle did express confidence in Hiller, despite the younger goalie’s lack of NHL playoff experience.
from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,
The biggest question facing the Washington Capitals as they prepare to open the Eastern Conference first round against the New York Rangers is whether José Theodore can catch fire after an uneven regular season in which he temporarily lost his starting job.
Playing behind the league’s third-best offense but an inexperienced team that’s prone to exposing its goaltender to prime scoring chances, Theodore won 32 games this season, second only to his 33 victories with the Montreal Canadiens in 2003-04. In every other category by which goaltenders are judged, however, the 32-year-old’s statistics were unimpressive despite a second-half rebound.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
The worst season in Avalanche history is over, and Francois Giguere paid for it with his job. But coach Tony Granato remains.
Many people are wondering: How can that be? Pierre Lacroix knows all the reasons, but other than a few sentences on a sheet of paper Monday, he won’t say anything.
But this offers the biggest clue: $43.392 million. That’s the amount the Avs are committed to paying just 13 players in 2009-10 — seven of whom are 30 or older.
I didn’t have a bug planted in the Avs’ luxury suite occupied late in the season on at least one occasion by Lacroix and owner Stan Kroenke. But it wouldn’t be outlandish to wonder if Kroenke had said something like: “Wait a minute, Pierre. I know we stink this year, but are you telling me I’m on the hook for another year of this stuff?”
Fair or not, Giguere was seen by too many hockey people as the equivalent of Nero, fiddling while the Avalanche burned.
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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