Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun,
From Norris Trophy finalist to all-star game absentee.
That’s not exactly the career path envisioned for Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
People think he’s taken a step back this season.
Really, he just hasn’t taken a step forward….
His minus-8 rating is a bigger concern than the paltry goal total. The only other active Flames defenceman who has a negative plus-minus is Adrian Aucoin at negative one. Some are calling Phaneuf the Tony Romo of the NHL.
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
Other than Owen Nolan, it’s now the Wild’s minute-munching forwards who are offering no offense.
Mikko Koivu has one goal and seven assists in the past 15 games. Andrew Brunette has one goal and three assists in the past 16. Pierre-Marc Bouchard has two goals and six assists in the past 17. Eric Belanger has one goal and four assists in his past 15. Antti Miettinen has one goal and two assists in the past 13.
It’s no wonder that in the Wild’s past 16 games, it has scored 27 goals (1.68 a game). In the 30-team NHL, it ranks 29th with 2.38 goals per game.
“The top guys, sometimes they do [squeeze their sticks], but other times—a lot of times—it’s execution that has to be better,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We’ve got to work on execution—hitting the net or feeding the right guy so we can get that goal.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Statistically, the gap between the two rivals is modest. At the moment, the Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin is second in the NHL scoring race and leads the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby by just two points….
In the 3 1/2 years they’ve been in the league, Crosby and Ovechkin have developed a Magic Johnson-Larry Bird sort of rivalry. Ovechkin won the Calder Memorial Trophy in their rookie seasons, ahead of Crosby, who is 20 months younger but joined the league the same year as a result of the lockout. Crosby won the MVP in Year 2; and Ovechkin took it last year, a season in which Crosby was out of the race early as a result of the 29 games he missed because of a high ankle sprain.
This year, Ovechkin’s advantage stems largely from team success. The Capitals are off to an excellent start, despite massive injuries, while the Penguins waddle along, their herd thinned by free-agent defections and an inability to handle their casualties as well as the Caps.
But half a season does not a year make and a healthy and motivated Crosby may still have something to say about the scoring and MVP races before all is said and done.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Amid growing speculation throughout the NHL community that the Tampa Bay Lightning may be preparing to trade captain Vinny Lecavalier, the player’s agent says he has been assured by Lightning ownership that big No. 4 will be a member of the Lightning for life.
“I’ve been hearing a lot of the (trade) talk out there, but I was assured by (Lightning owner) Oren Koules within the last hour that it’s nothing more than speculation and rumors and there’s absolutely nothing to it,” agent Kent Hughes said. “Vinny Lecavalier fully expects to be a Tampa Bay Lightning for life and no one from ownership or management in Tampa Bay has given us any reason to believe otherwise.”
from Lightning Strikes,
So, this is what the Lightning has in store for Steven Stamkos, according to coach Rick Tocchet.
The team wants the 6-foot-1, 184-pound rookie forward, last summer’s No. 1 overall draft pick, to strengthen both his upper body and lower body. To do so, Stamkos will hit the weight room more, have one-on-one on-ice training sessions with assistant coach Wes Walz, especially on days when Tampa Bay has several clustered off days. But Stamkos also may sit out games to make that schedule work, and the first of those games is tonight against the Ducks for which Stamkos is a healthy scratch.
SI.com’s NHL writers will periodically discuss the latest news and address hot topics from around the league. This week: a look back at the first half of the season and a look forward to the stretch run.
1. Who is your mid-season MVP?
Michael Farber: Alex Ovechkin. He scores. He hits. He does everything but, like the carney barkers say, crawl on his belly like a reptile. While we have our shorts in a knot over the Bruins and Sharks, Capitals have quietly, it seems to me, been lurking. Ovechkin’s crazy skills and infectious passion are the biggest reason.
Darren Eliot: Zach Parise has been consistent from the outset and given the Devils, according to head coach Brent Sutter, the type of season that was needed by his team.
Allan Muir: I gave serious thought to Parise. I don’t think he’s getting the acclaim he deserves for the magical season he’s putting together. But as much as I wish I could give the nod to someone off the beaten path, how could it not be Ovechkin?
via Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Just spoke with GM Scott Howson in the lobby restaurant of the Blue Jackets team hotel. Goaltender Steve Mason is questionable for tonight’s game vs. Washington with upper body “tightness.”
update 7:10pm, Mason is in the lineup.
from Razor With An Edge,
In light of last night’s spanking in Motown I thought we’d revisit my premature blog posting prior to the first meeting in Dallas. The Stars followed my 10 step program much more closely in the latest shellacking at the Joe. Note: Additional editorials from last night’s outcome are in parenthesis….
• Win as few face-offs as possible as a way to set up your “checking game”. (37% on the dots, mission accomplished)
• Pay no attention to overrated forwards Datsyuk and Zetterberg - they’re so one-dimensional. Same goes for that free agent flop Marian Hossa. Instead, focus a lot of your effort toward ensuring Valtteri Filppula doesn’t “beat you by himself”. (All three scored, all three helped set up another goal, and all three dominated. Filppula was held scoreless and 0 for 4 in the faceoff circle)
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators today recalled goaltender Brian Elliott and assigned defenceman Matt Carkner to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
Later, I briefly asked Ovechkin whether he was really trying to pick up fighting tips from Brashear, and he clarified, saying he wants to be prepared just in case anything happens, but that he has no intention of becoming a brawler.
“Show me how I have to do something if somebody grab me,” he said he asked Brashear. “It’s normal thing. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to get hurt. I’m terrible fighter. Probably worse than Sasha.”
Earlier, Ovechkin had joked that Semin “hits pretty cool, actually,” but when another media person now asked jokingly about Semin’s fight, Ovechkin bristled a bit.
“Well, he do it for our team,” he said of Semin. “And he fight. I want to see if you go over there and fight with Staal, and how you’re gonna be fighting.”
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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