Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Pierre LeBrun at ESPN (h/t to Sabres Insider):
Coach Lindy Ruff was more blunt: The trap is back.
“Most teams now have four, five guys back,” Ruff said. “It’s a 1-4 now. They’re lining up, a five-man group in the neutral zone.”
So the Sabres also felt the need to tighten up. But hey, let’s not get carried away here. The Sabres remain a skilled and entertaining team, underlined most recently by a 10-2 drubbing of the Edmonton Oilers. But if there’s an overwhelming reason for Buffalo’s turnaround, it is that Ruff has finally gotten through to his players about defensive awareness after pounding them with the message since training camp.
From Jim Kelley of Sports Illustrated:
The Cory Clouston era kicked off in Ottawa this week.
The hope of the Senators and their fans is that the new coach, fresh up from Binghamton in the American Hockey League, will be the second coming of Bruce Boudreau, the veteran minor league coach who took over a foundering Capitals team and drove it to the Southeast Division championship on the final day of the 2007-08 regular season.
Not to be disparaging of an NHL newbie who was just getting his style unwrapped in the AHL, but I have a two-word view on that possibility: fat chance.
continued with a look at all the teams who’ve had coaching changes this season
From the CP via TSN,
The Minnesota Wild will be without veteran forward Owen Nolan when they play the Nashville Predators on Friday.
Nolan skated Thursday but was too sore with what the team is calling upper body muscle spasms. Nolan’s 12 goals this season are just three behind team leader Mikko Koivu despite playing in 19 fewer games.
Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli will be the guest on today’s edition of NHL Hour with Gary Bettman.
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From WCBS News Radio:
Ever had to eat tickets to a sporting event which took place while you were on vacation? Get this. New Jersey Nets season ticket holders can get in on the “Snowbird Exchange Program.”
[NJ Nets Press Release]: As cold weather takes hold of the Metropolitan area, the Nets and the Florida Panthers have launched the first-ever Snowbird Ticket Exchange Plan in which south Florida-bound Nets season ticket holders can exchange their unused game tickets for Florida Panthers hockey game tickets at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
More on this from the Associated Press.
From the CP via TSN:
The reason for the rivalry remains unknown, however team mates on both sides believe it has something to do with sharing the same nationality. Older brother Andrei [Kostitsyn] would not discuss the feud but did state that [Mikhail] Grabovski “…talks too much in the Russian newspapers about me and my brother.”
While both players were born in Belarussia, Grabovski believes that Kostitsyn’s heritage should be questioned. “I think he is not Belarussian now, he is French because I never fight with Belarussian guys.”
Canadiens heavyweight Georges Laraque thought the prospect of the two flyweights throwing down would be hilarious.
“I think it would look really funny,” Laraque said of the potential tilt between the pair who are both generously listed at 5’11”.
read on for the full story
from Jessica Bliss of the Tennessean,
For at least a month prior to the NHL All-Star break, Predators goaltenders Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne were engaged in a fight for the team’s No. 1 netminder position.
Now, as the team heads into the most important stretch of the season, Rinne — the previously named backup — has won out. The rookie has started all four games since the All-Star break, and Coach Barry Trotz said as long as Rinne is performing at a high level he would get the nod in the net.
Sound like a familiar storyline? It should.
This is the third time in the last four seasons that the Predators have looked to their No. 2 goalie to lead them in the push to the post-season.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
There will be a plenty of interest in winger Chris Neil and defenceman Filip Kuba, who are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
While Neil’s rugged style will appeal to a number of teams, Kuba has been the Senators’ top blueliner.
Sun Media has confirmed that the 31-year-old Kuba would have to approve any deal because he has a no-trade clause that he waived to come to Ottawa from the Lightning….
Ottawa will also get calls about the availibility of winger Antoine Vermette and defenceman Christoph Schubert, who have both been inconsistent this season.
Murray said he will consider trades for prospects and draft picks at the deadline.
“I was looking at our draft (record) from the last four or five years and they haven’t been great, but I feel good about last year. We have a chance to get a player or two out of each draft and that’s about all,” said Murray.
from Jack McCaffery of the Delco Times,
Until there is a more fundamental reason to arm himself with padding and stand before rubber hockey bullets, Marty Biron will try to provide the Flyers with the only service a goaltender can: A last resort.
It wasn’t supposed to come to that already —- and it may not have reached that point yet. But it has been heading that way at slapshot speed for a 31-year-old goalie with dwindling chances that he will still be one of Flyers consequence come age 32.
Highly compensated now but with no contract beyond the end of this season, Biron slowly but clearly has been sliding from the Flyers’ long-term plans —- that despite his gymnastics last spring, which helped open access to the NHL’s Final Four.
from Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun,
Those close to Mike Keenan are likely the only ones who know exactly how the Calgary Flames head coach felt when general manager Darryl Sutter stepped in to lean on his players after a second straight loss on the road this week.
Steaming mad is a pretty good bet.
After the media was shuffled out and the doors closed Tuesday night for the discussion, Keenan chose to leave without speaking.
Maybe he didn’t want to say anything that would land him in the same sort of hot water his team was in.
But a day after the 3-1 loss to the Stars in Dallas, Keenan suggested he welcomes the occasional locker-room visit from his boss.
“It’s not an issue,” said Keenan. “You know you’re getting an honest message from Darryl. I’ve worked with him for a long time. I embrace his input and the group learns from it. He brings a different voice and a different perspective—he’s watching the game from above as opposed to ice level….”
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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