Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Edmonton Journal,
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland knows that trying to sign Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen is like trying to stuff a set of golf clubs into a carry-on, but there are ways to do it.
What if he traded forward Valtteri Filppula, which would take $3 million off the books? This would be pain for some gain, but he has another Finn, Ville Leino, ready to step in next season at one-third the price. He could also consider moving Dan Cleary, too, who has a cap hit of $2.8 million, but Cleary is more versatile, a better checker, and also has a no-trade clause.
He has to deal Group 2 free-agent forward Jiri Hudler, who is going to want $3 million a year off this year’s 60-point season, up from this year’s $1.15 million. And this might be a stretch, but he could buy out the last two years of 37-year-old centre Kris Draper’s contract at two-thirds of the $3 million remaining and spread it over four years on the cap.
added 12:24pm, Mike of Crash The Crease responds to some of the proposals made in the above article.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Currently ranked 25th in the loop with an average of 3.05 goals surrendered per game, the high-flying Flames have completely abandoned the defence-first system Sutter implemented when he coached the squad up until three years ago. That’s almost a goal-per-game more than the top-ranked Boston Bruins. No other team ranked worse than 21st in the category is playoff-bound.
But the big problem his team is having now is much broader than that.
“I just think our top players all at once aren’t playing very well,” said Sutter, whose club lost seven of its last 10 games before last night.
“We’re sort of in a position where we’re comfortable with a playoff spot and everyone else is playing and fighting like hell to get one. If our top guys get back to playing, we’ll stay in first place.”
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
The Sharks came from behind Saturday night to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 at HP Pavilion for a franchise-record 109 points — two more than the Detroit Red Wings in the battle for NHL supremacy with both teams having seven games to play.
But the victory could come at a price as center Patrick Marleau was injured late in the first period, tried a few shifts in the second and did not return.
“I just tweaked something in the lower body and that’s it, that’s all I can give you,” Marleau said after the game. “It was kind of a contact play, but not big contact.”
Coach Todd McLellan described Marleau as day to day, adding he probably would not be able to skate at today’s morning practice before the team leaves for a two-game trip to Calgary and Edmonton.
more on the Sharks and their victory over the Coyotes…
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
(Patrick) Kaleta was injured just three minutes into the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout victory over Montreal. Kaleta was playing the puck along the wall in the Buffalo zone when Maxim Lapierre hit him in the back and drove the winger headfirst into the boards.
Lapierre was given a two-minute boarding penalty. Kaleta played a few more shifts before retiring to the dressing room.
“Their doctors deemed him to have a concussion,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “That’s disappointing. When a player’s got his back turned, it’s disappointing. He took a tough blow there. You hope that it’s dealt with.
“That’s serious. Head injuries are serious. It’s been a big topic. It’s been talked a lot about. He was defenseless on the play. I don’t like it. I don’t think we should like it. I think the players need to respect each other a little more….”
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Dallas is 0-5-1 in its last six games, despite scoring the first goal in five of those games. The Stars fall to 33-33-9 (75 points) and probably need to win all seven of their remaining games just to get into the conversation for the eighth playoff spot in the West.
“It’s not acceptable,” said center Mike Ribeiro, who had a goal and an assist. “It’s our fault, and that’s what happens when you don’t play as a team.”
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Right about the middle of next month, the Blackhawks are sure to make their first postseason appearance since 2002.
With the season dwindling to its final games, they’re already getting a taste of what that experience will be like. That learning process should continue when the Hawks play their biggest game of the season when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at the United Center.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“Before the season,” Commodore said, “if you would have looked at their roster and said, ‘OK, this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy are going to be done for the year ... how do you think they’re going to do?’ With seven games left, I don’t think anybody would have guessed they’d be one point out of the playoff race.
“They just never went away. It’s been very impressive.”
“I think everybody did count them out,” Nash said. “I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I played for Andy Murray at the World Championships (with Team Canada) and know how good of a coach he is. Plus, they’ve got great players, so it was surprising to see where they were at the bottom. But they’ve been great lately, and they’ve got a shot at it.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Last night might have been one of those nasty, scarring experiences that a goalie never gets over and Pogge’s bewilderment seemed to hint at that after surrendering six goals on 20 shots to the Boston Bruins and being yanked after fewer than 33 minutes.
“Tonight sucked,” he said. “I’ve just got to go back to work tomorrow, I guess.”
Pogge’s brief outing included an unusual moment when, after he’d given up the fifth Boston goal, head coach Ron Wilson essentially challenged the third-year pro with some sharp words at the bench.
“Ah, you know, it was a slap on the ass, you know, try to get back into it,” said Pogge, choosing his words carefully. “Unfortunately, the first shot after that was a breakaway.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• So what’s less fun? Playing for a Ken Hitchcock-coached team or playing against one?
• No matter how you view the top-three MVP candidates in the NHL—from Ovechkin to Evgeny Malkin to Pavel Datsyuk to Zdeno Chara to Zach Parise, you can’t muster a top-three vote for Sidney Crosby. And who would have predicted that?
• The Vancouver Canucks are 19-10-4 with Mats Sundin in the lineup but that said, Sundin’s overall impact has been debatable: He has just 23 points in 33 games (a 57-point pace), only four even-strength goals and is a minus-player. He’s also 10th on the team in ice time played per game. If you ask Vancouver people, the development of Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler has been far more instrumental in the Canucks surge than the presence of Sundin.
more hockey notes including the need for more goal scorers…
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
If anyone can grapple the Norris Trophy from the clutches of multiple winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings, it is Chara.
The numbers speak for themselves. His 16 goals rank him among the league leaders for defencemen. His plus-24 is one of the best totals in the NHL.
Yes, the Washington Capitals’ Mike Green is having an outstanding offensive season with 28 goals. And yes, the likes of Lidstrom, Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski and Shea Weber, just to mention a few, certainly deserve consideration.
Where Chara separates himself from the others is the ability to use his towering frame to completely smother opposing snipers, a quality his coach very much appreciates.
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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