Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The lone division this season with a genuine race for the top spot, which carries with it an automatic top-three seed in the playoffs, is the Atlantic.
“It is a tough division,” Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren told ESPN.com.
The New Jersey Devils beat Nashville 3-1 on Monday night to leapfrog the Rangers into first place with 59 points, followed by New York at 58 and the Philadelphia Flyers at 57. Just two points separate the top three.
“I certainly felt that way going into the season,” Holmgren said when asked if he thought it would be this kind of battle for the division. “Probably the one surprise is where Pittsburgh is at. But they’ve had injuries to their two key defensemen, [Ryan] Whitney and [Sergei] Gonchar. You know they’re going to be in the mix in the end because they’re such a strong team.”
“I try to tell our guys we’re making the equivalent of a 60-foot putt, which Tiger Woods can’t even make, instead of simplifying our game which in golf would be a three-foot putt and in hockey a 10-foot pass,”.”
“We continually try to look long. It looks pretty, but it’s totally ineffective.”
-Toronto coach Ron Wilson after losing to Carolina last night. More on the game from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
As you know, my life is consumed with hockey. I check websites, listen to online hockey radio stations and watch as many games as possible on a nightly basis.
Lately, I have been hearing and reading the words “Top 5 player”. “He is one of the top 5 players at his position”, “without a doubt, he is a top 5 player”. Well, I have heard at least 40 names lately that are in the ‘Top 5” How can that be, only five players can be in the top 5, right?
So, and I am asking you to go into this with an open mind, take your ‘homer glasses’ off and name your Top 5. Let’s break it down by forward, defense and goal and to clarify, you can include last season into this equation, but can’t go back any farther than that.
List your Top 5 in the comments below.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
While Schubert has been the most often mentioned defenceman in trade rumours, there is a strong belief Kuba, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is making $3 million US, might be the club’s most attractive commodity. Several teams—including the Rangers, Devils, Flames, Flyers, Canucks, Panthers and Stars—are looking for blue-line help.
“I don’t know how much (the Senators) are going to be able to do,” said a league executive. “It’s so difficult to make deals right now. Not only does it have to be dollar-for-dollar, there’s no chance you can afford to take on salary.”
It will be up to the players to decide what direction Murray takes. Following yesterday’s action, the Senators are in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, 13 points behind the eighth-place Panthers.
Ottawa has teased its fans by earning five points in the last three games.
from Pat Caputo of the Oakland Press via the Morning Sun,
Last season, the Red Wings allowed, by a considerable margin, the fewest goals in the NHL. This season, 11 teams have allowed fewer goals. Osgood’s goals against average last season was below two per game. It’s above three this season.
The 49 shots allowed against the Stars — who aren’t, by the way, a reincarnation of Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers from the 1980s in terms of skill — were the most allowed by the Red Wings since 1991. The Red Wings yielded 23 shots per goal during the second period of that game. That’s more shots per goal than they allowed overall in 13 of their 22 playoff games last spring….
Could be age is catching up to some of the Red Wings’ better forwards defensively. Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby, the Red Wings’ key penalty killers in the past, are 37 and 36.
Lidstrom will turn 39 in April. He is still a truly great player, but how much longer can he be this quiet miracle man for the Red Wings along the blue line?
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Fighting – from its role in hockey to whether it has a future in the game – will be up for debate when the NHL’s general managers meet in March.
“When we review a rule, we review all aspects of it, including the obvious and the not so obvious,” said Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations. “There are some aspects to fighting we would like to ask the GMs about and we will leave no stone unturned.”
While Campbell believes questions about fighting need to be asked, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has his answers ready.
“I think it’s a very important historical and present part of our game,” said Burke. “If it comes to a vote, Toronto is certainly not going to vote to eliminate fighting. That’s certainly not going to happen while I’m here….”
via Chris Kuc of Icing,
Martin Havlat made one Blackhawks fan very happy during Monday night’s Blackhawks game.
You see, if a Hawks player scores at the 10:00 mark of the second period, an Illinois Lottery promotion awards one lucky fan $1 million.
The winner met Havlat outside the Hawks locker room following the game and looked a bit stunned (go figure) as he thanked the Hawks winger.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The parallels in their personal histories are startling, remarkable even.
They are both products of an interracial marriage. Their fathers, black, hailed from Africa, one from Kenya, the other from Nigeria. Their mothers, white, hailed from the hinterland, one from Kansas in the American Midwest, the other from Edmonton in Canada’s frozen north.
The respective marriages faltered early, when they were babies, and so both were raised in households where the grandparents played prominent roles. They were accomplished athletes - one played high-school basketball in the U.S. the other major junior hockey in Canada. They were known, even in the early, more anonymous stages of their lives, for their leadership abilities.
Neither ever backed away from a fight, and while Barack Obama didn’t drop the gloves with Willie Mitchell or Cody McCormick or David Hale - as Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla did earlier this NHL season - the campaign to be president of the United States eventually evolved into something of a street fight in its latter days, too.
added 7:19am, A similar type story from Terry Frei of the Denver Post....
from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
Shanahan played 18 shifts for 13:59 in ice time and fired a team-high six shots on goal. He made it clear that he’s out to prove those who said he was finished wrong and did so for at least one night.
“I think from what I’ve read and what I’ve hard, I genuinely believed I’m better than other people did,” he said, laughing. “It’s just a funny way of saying that in spite of some things I’ve heard, I believe I can still play. But sometimes if you’re not seen for a while, you’re sort of forgotten about. I don’t think you would do what I did - not as far as the signing or tonight or the past week—I don’t think you could do what I did since July until the day Lou (Lamoriello) signed me if you didn’t believe you could contribute because it really (stunk) in a lot of ways. Driving to the rink every night and getting offered jobs in other areas of life and telling people through surprised looks that you’re actually still intending on playing, So, it might be false confidence, but it’s useful.”
more & watch Shanahan’s first goal of the season below…
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
In the modern Oilers context, Horcoff is the guy who digs out the puck of the Oilers’ zone and gets the play moving in the right direction, while Penner is the guy who charges the oppostion net, creating needed space down low for Hemsky to operate, to work his magic.
When all three are healthy and playing together, the Oilers have a first line that can compare to all but the very best first lines in the NHL, and might even come out on top of the finest opposition in a seven-game playoff series. Hemsky and Horcoff certainly combined with Ryan Smyth to do so in 2006.
This is a first line that can take the Oilers far into the playoffs, so long as the other lines, the defencemen and the goalie are doing their jobs.
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