Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Brough of Orland Kurtenblog,
The Vancouver Canucks passed the halfway point of the schedule with Saturday’s 3-1 victory in Dallas. With 40 games to go, this week’s list features our keys to the rest of the regular season.
In October, Luongo’s save percentage was .902 and the Canucks went 7-7-0.
In December, Luongo’s save percentage was .932 and the Canucks went 10-4-1.
This is called a correlation.
Still, there remains a sense that Luongo hasn’t been the winning factor enough. Vancouver is just 12-13-1 in games decided by two goals or fewer and 13-3-0 in those decided by three or more. Naturally, goaltending comes under closer scrutiny in tight affairs.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock won’t get the chance to scratch Mike Commodore for tonight’s game.
The club’s highest-paid defenseman has told the coaching staff he won’t play until he feels “100 percent.”
It’s yet another twist in Commodore’s bizarre season, one filled with injury, poor play and conditioning issues.
On Sunday, he notified Hitchcock of his intent on the team’s flight to Vancouver. The coach had benched Commodore for the past three games but was thinking of playing him tonight, pending a meeting with the player and several assistants, including strength coach Barry Brennan.
“The whole year has been a disaster, but I’m looking to move forward,” Commodore said. “Unless I have to, I’m not playing until I’m ready, until I’m 100 percent. When is that going to be? I don’t know. I thought it was going to be a month ago.”
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
The NHL season half over, coach Claude Julien sounded like a man who views his team’s effort as only half full - and even less satisfying. Last season’s Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s coach of the year sounded fed up.
“We can’t think we are going to win hockey games playing the way we are,’’ Julien said after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in which the Bruins performed listlessly for more than two periods. “We are just showing up for a period, half a period, whatever, and get ourselves back in the game, get excited. We didn’t even deserve a point tonight. We didn’t get it. We didn’t deserve it.’’...
Julien wants the alleged leaders in the room to do some leading.
“Right now you have to coach, you have to be a cheerleader, you’ve got to wake ’em up . . . you’ve got to do too many things that a coach shouldn’t have to do at this level,’’ he said. “These are professionals and they have to take ownership of their room at some point.’’
from the CP at TSN,
Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron left the game after being hit near the right wrist by a teammate’s slapshot early in the second period.
‘‘Patrice won’t travel to Ottawa with the team,’’ according to the team. ‘‘He is returning to Boston to be evaluated by our medical staff.’‘
more on the Bruins loss to the Rangers tonight…
from William Houston of Truth & Rumours,
So, a quick post on the disappointing NBC rating for the New Year’s day Winter Classic. The overnight rating of 2.6 was down 10.3 percent from 2.9 a year ago. (A rating is the percentage of potential U.S. households tuned in.)...
The problem is, if you’re NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and desperate to be the person responsible for growing the NHL game in the United States, a close, well played game appeals only to hockey’s core audience. The casual fans couldn’t have cared less. Bring on the snow, and, hey, where are Alex and Sid? There were no big names in this game, which is to say Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby weren’t there.
But let’s not get too serious about the Winter Classic. It’s a gimmick, a novelty that earns some extra money for the clubs, and, in a perfect world, would kick-start NBC’s NHL coverage.
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles at the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Kovalchuk wants a lot of money, like $9 million or $10 million a year, and it’s hard to believe the Thrashers wouldn’t give him what he wants. Isn’t that a no-brainer, given the state of hockey in Atlanta? If Kovalchuk goes maybe the team does too.
Face it, the Hawks are going to be mentioned in every trade rumor from now well into until next summer because of their salary cap problems, so it’s easy for an exec to speculate he wouldn’t be surprised if the Hawks get involved in the Kovalchuk stuff once there is something to get involved with.
The Hawks do have a lot of assets, but how many of them would it take to get an elite player such as Kovalchuk? I’m thinking possibly two top-nine forwards, a defenseman and maybe a high draft pick or two. That’s a lot to give up for a guy who might be just a rental.
from the CP at TSN,
Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux watched most of the team’s lengthy 90-minute practice, which made it a different day than usual for the Stanley Cup champions.
The boss was in the house, and he clearly wasn’t there to socialize following the end of an 0-4 road trip.
The coach wasn’t very happy, either. Dan Bylsma originally scheduled a day off Monday following two games in Florida in as many days and before a home game against Atlanta on Tuesday. Instead he put his players through one of their longest practices of the season.
The Vancouver Canucks received some awful news on the injury front Monday when they learned that they would be without defenceman Kevin Bieksa for up to three months with severed tendons in his left ankle.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
After getting hammered 6-2 by the Sabres on Dec. 3, the Canadiens lost 4-3 on Dec. 14, and 1-0 yesterday; as Jacques Martin likes to say, and repeat, and repeat, it’s important to show constant improvement.
The Habs survived their 17-game month ’o hell, going 9-7-1. That’s no screaming hell, but they’ve managed to stay with the playoff pack, and with Andrei Markov and Gionta back, this is looking a lot more like the hockey team Bob Gainey assembled in the summer.
“We’re starting to come around finally . . . since getting all our players back I think it does feel like a new season,” Price said.
All the top plays from Western Conference teams since the start of the 2009/10 season.
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