Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Spector at Fox Sports,
Both clubs will now have a longer than expected off-season to address the problem areas that led to their decline in 2007-08.
For the Sabres, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners and a two-time Eastern Conference finalist, the fall from grace was significant.
The loss of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury last summer to unrestricted free agency hurt the Sabres, leaving a gaping hole of veteran leadership and skill that they were unable to fill….
As for the Canucks, the lack of offensive production that got them bounced in the second round of late year’s playoffs cost them a playoff berth this season. Yes, injuries did take their toll on the Canucks but despite that, for most of this season they held onto a playoff berth before collapsing down the stretch.
from the CP via Yahoo,
‘But Alfredsson took some of the heat off the Toronto Maple Leafs forward Friday by blaming himself for winding up on the receiving end of a blind-side hit from Bell that will force the him to miss the Senators’ final regular-season game and at least the start of the playoffs should they qualify.
“I think it’s more myself (at fault),” said Alfredsson, who’s out with an unspecified upper-body injury and a knee injury, although he denied he suffered a concussion. “Usually I’m aware of what’s going on around me and I had no idea he was coming.”
from the CP via TSN,
Making or missing the playoffs can be big for NHL clubs, both in cash and in reputation when it comes to signing unrestricted free agents in the summer. After all, how many free agents say they want to play for teams with little chance of winning?
Among Canadian teams this season, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are already out while Montreal and Calgary are in and Ottawa is on the cusp of clinching.
The Oilers went all the way to the Stanley Cup final only two seasons ago, losing to Carolina. LaForge said that was probably worth $20 million in ticket, gear and other sales in the first year alone.
from Lightning Strikes,
Washington’s Matt Cooke, who’s hit on Vinny Lecavalier caused the Lightning star’s shoulder injury, was fined Friday $2,500 by the league. There was no suspension. The league decided Cooke’s open-ice hit on Lecavalier, who was not carrying the puck, should have been an interference call.
From Robin Brownlee at the Canadian Press (via Yahoo),
“I’ve never been afraid of expectations,” coach Craig MacTavish said. “If you don’t have expectations, you very seldom have success. Knowing expectations are warranted, and in this case they’re very warranted, the expectation is we’re going to pick up where we left off at the end of this year.”
Despite losing captain Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray and Raffi Torres to season-ending injuries, the Oilers fashioned a record of 14-5-1 in their final 20 games.
“There’s a ton of optimism,” Horcoff said. “At the same time, nothing is guaranteed. There’s a lot of good teams. “We just want to get to the point that we’re one of them year-in and year-out. We want to build some consistency. If you’re going to be a team that’s going to win the division, especially our division, you need the depth. There is lots to look forward to.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Now a consultant with the Detroit Red Wings, Bowman was asked in an interview how coaching in the playoffs differed from coaching in the regular season.
Bowman’s answer: In the playoffs, coaches need to be far more adaptable.
“You can’t be set in your ways,” began Bowman. “During the season, it’s all about repetition and you push guys to play a certain way. Once you get in the playoffs, there may come a time when you have to make a right turn. If you’re going good, you want it to continue, but if you’re not, all of a sudden, you may have to try something different and play a different style of game.”
read on plus more NHL talk…
from Ryan Dixon at the Hockey News,
But this year’s version of the New York Rangers isn’t your typical brash, big-city bunch. A team that in recent years came to be known for its heavy Czech presence is really more about checking hard at both ends of the rink and thriving on a north-south game. That and fantastic goaltending.
With the Eastern Conference as wide open as Saskatchewan, the Rangers are starting to gather a sizeable following of people who believe this could be the year Madison Square Garden plays host to another Stanley Cup final.
Update 5:56pm ET— From Bill Clement at NBC Sports, more Rangers optimism:
Having made the playoffs for the third straight year under coach Tom Renney, the Rangers shouldn’t be sold short of capping their season with a ticker-tape parade down New York’s Canyon of Heroes.
The only other time such a celebration took place for this franchise was in 1994, when captain Mark Messier helped end over a half-century of futility on ice in the Big Apple.
Looking at the competitive balance in the Eastern Conference, one would be crazy not to think the Rangers could make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. And if they do, with the strengths they possess and with the possibility their opponent will have paid a heavy price to come out of the rough-and-tumble West, the Rangers will have a better-than-average chance to sometime in June skate around the ice with Lord Stanley’s Cup held high.
Wings forward Tomas Kopecky out for 4-6 months after suffering a partially torn left anterior cruciate ligament and a sprained MCL when he flipped over Columbus forward Manny Malhota in Thursday’s game, general manager Ken Holland said on Friday. After a two-week period to let the swelling go down, Kopecky will have surgery.
from Chilling Out at the Tennessean,
I’m not going to suggest the Predators tank it tonight in Chicago.
But let’s face it. The last place they want to end up is the Shark Tank, which would be the case if the Predators beat the Blackhawks tonight and Vancouver beats Calgary on Saturday.
As matters stand now, the eighth-seeded Predators will open the postseason against top-seeded Detroit, which is hardly a walk in the park. The Red Wings are the Presidents’ Trophy winners and are loaded with talent.
The Ottawa Senators will not have forwards Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher in their lineup for the forseeable future, as head coach and general manager Bryan Murray told reporters Friday that both players have knee injuries and will be out for “weeks.”
Making things worse for Ottawa’s captain is a head injury suffered after a hit by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell on Thursday night, identified by the team as an upper body injury.
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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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