Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
With perhaps the best team they have ever had entering the NHL playoffs, the Vancouver Canucks completed their season Saturday awaiting an opponent, three teams still very much in the running to face Vancouver.
But the club is always fond of saying they are concerned about their own play and the process by which it is evolving, changing and hopefully improving. It’s that process which you certainly came away from the easy win over Calgary wondering about after great fun was had by all, particularly the Sedin twins.
First and foremost you have to start in goal to examine this team, where Roberto Luongo would appear to be one of the big keys to how far they will be able to travel in the postseason.
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Last season, the Blackhawks’ resurgence was one of the feel-good stories in the NHL. Dragged screaming into the 21st century after epitomizing the era when marketing was considered to be making sure the beer taps worked, the franchise went through an amazing turnaround on every levelfrom the ice through ownership.
The Hawks’ run last year to the Western Conference finals, where they fell to the Red Wings, was exciting and a boon for the league.
Now, with the Blackhawks again a marquee act in the nation’s third-largest market, the attitude and expectations will be different in this postseason.
The pressure’s on.
Chicago, which finishes the regular season at home today against Detroit, went into the final weekend of the regular season still fighting San Jose for the conference’s top seed.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
• The Red Wings will always have a soft spot for Kris Draper (four Stanley Cups), but at $1.583 million as a fourth-liner and with major salary cap concerns, he’s too rich for their blood next season.
Draper makes more than Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves combined—both players have to be resigned—but they’ll keep Draper for 2010-11, even if he’s being paid for what he used to be, and that’s one of the game’s best-ever checking, third-line guys.
• Jiri Hudler, who played on the same Moscow Dynamo team as Linus (pronounced LEE-nus) Omark, wants out of Russia. He will likely take the Detroit Red Wings’ $2.85-million arbitration figure and return next fall. That’s a $2.15-million pay cut from Russia.
• Fabian Brunnstrom is one of only three players to score a hat trick in his first NHL game—Alex Smart in 1943 and Buddy Cloutier in 1979 are the others—but he won’t be re-signed by the Dallas Stars. Brunnstrom is not strong enough on the puck and doesn’t work that well in the tighter-checking NHL confines.
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Daniel Sedin between the legs.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
All in all, it’s an incredible amount of cooking the books and confusing the fans — the people who matter most in all this — with games that often include four-on-four overtimes, then shootouts, then morphing a 2-point game into a 3-point game and massaging ridiculous bonus points into the “OL’’ column.
And now, get this, some of the Lords believe a win in regulation should be worth more than 2 points, you know, just to confuse the process even more. Hey, once you’ve reached ridiculous, it’s only a short trip to sublime.
Yep, the new NHL. So avant-garde and revolutionary that the standings and playoff permutations can’t be determined without a secret decoder ring. Just my two cents, of course.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Ron Wilson will return for his third season as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The question is: Why?
Of all that has been questionable about the Leafs in recent years, Wilson’s lack of success has been the most surprising.
He came to Toronto with an impressive resume.
He said it would take time.
He seemed to have a sense about how difficult it would be to turn this team around.
But the truth is, it’s been worse than even Wilson imagined.
continued and other hockey notes…
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Most Surprising Teams: 1. Phoenix; 2. Colorado; 3. New Jersey.
Most Disappointing Teams: 1. NHL Hockey Operations; 2. Calgary; 3. Philadelphia.
Worst Trade: Toronto’s Brian Burke sending a 2010 lottery pick plus a 2011 first-rounder that might be a lottery pick plus a second-round pick this year to Boston for Phil Kessel.
Sorry, that wasn’t ingenious. That was a move worthy of a dunce cap, regardless of how Burke’s enablers might want to spin it.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Thrashers coaching situation
I’m hearing rumblings Thrashers coach John Anderson might be shown the door in Atlanta. There had been rumors during the season that the team was considering a coaching change.
Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle will be a sought-after commodity when all 30 teams gather in Los Angeles for the NHL draft in June. His no-trade clause will be gone by then and the Maple Leafs will be listening….
more including talk of a second outdoor game in Calgary…
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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