Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chip Alexander of Canes Now at the News & Observer,
Canes fans seem to appreciate Tuomo Ruutu and his sometimes rambunctious, often entertaining brand of hockey. When he controls the puck or smacks somebody into the boards at the RBC Center, there is the “R-UUUUU” rumble from the stands.
And guess what? Ruutu likes it here, too. A restricted free agent after the season, he made it clear this week that he hopes to stay with this team, in this city.
“I feel like it’s home here,” he said. “It was a big change coming from Chicago, but right away I felt like I came home.
“This season I realized it — that it’s a great place to live and to play, as well.”
from Sam McCaig of The Hockey News,
NEW YORK RANGERS
Standings story- New York has steadily slid down the Eastern Conference standings and is clinging to a playoff spot with a week to go. The Rangers would be a lot further down if not for netminder Henrik Lundqvist, their runaway MVP this season.
Home: vs. Montreal on Tuesday; vs. Philadelphia on Thursday.
Road: at Boston on Saturday; at Philadelphia next Sunday.
In or out?- OUT. The Rangers had an uptick after adding Sean Avery and Nikolai Antropov, but that momentum has been lost and New York is limping to the finish. That, combined with a tough schedule in the final week, will result in the playoffs escaping from New York.
Standings story- Two points behind the Rangers for the final playoff spot, with two fewer victories, Florida is pushing hard for its first post-season appearance since 2000.
Home: vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday; vs. Washington next Saturday.
Road: at Philadelphia on Tuesday; at Atlanta on Thursday.
In or out?- IN. Florida hasn’t been in the playoffs for nine years and hasn’t won a playoff round since that surprise run to the Stanley Cup final as third-year expansion franchise in 1996. It’s time for a return.
more on teams in the playoff race…
Who Can Clinch Today
#1 Boston Bruins can clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference:
* If they get at least one point against the New York Rangers.
#3 New Jersey Devils can clinch the Atlantic Division:
* If they beat the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers get no points against the Ottawa Senators.
#4 Philadelphia Flyers can clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth:
* If they beat the Ottawa Senators.
#5 Carolina Hurricanes can clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth:
* If they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Below you can find today’s NHL schedule plus an extended schedule for all game remaining in the regular season.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The club hasn’t locked itself into a playoff spot officially, but sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference after Chicago defeated Nashville 3-1 on Friday, the Blues are in position to end a three-year postseason drought with a strong finish.
“Now we can’t worry about what else happens around the league,” Blues center Jay McClement said. “Now it’s kind of up to us. As long as we take care of our own job, then things will work out in the end.”
The Vancouver Canucks talk about the tragic death of Taylor Pyatt’s fiancee, Carly Bragnalo.
The Vancouver Province has details of the accident.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Jim Rutherford has heard all the theories suggesting he rehired Paul Maurice three months ago because of their long-time friendship. The mere insinuation still irks him.
In a phone interview from Raleigh yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes general manager shot down the popular notion that his relationship with Maurice played a role in the decision to have Maurice come in for a second stint as Canes’ coach.
“I would not have brought Paul back if I did not think it was the best move for the team at the time. Period,” Rutherford said. “There are other ways to help a friend.”
Rutherford said Maurice sacrificed a lot in order to take the job.
“People have missed the real story about this whole thing,” Rutherford said. “Paul left his wife and kids up in Toronto to come down here. He’s not making any more money by doing this. And, if it didn’t work out here, it likely would have not helped his career at all. It probably would have damaged it.”
from Greg Logan of On the Islanders Beat,
Their competition for the No. 1 spot in the draft lottery, which is assured of a top-two pick because no team can drop more than one spot, comes from 29th-place Colorado and 28th-place Tampa Bay, which visits the Coliseum Saturday night. The Isles are five points below the Avalanche, which has gone 9-25-1 in its last 35 games, including 0-7-1 in the past eight. The Lightning, which plays tonight at New Jersey, has gone 7-15-7 in its past 29 games, including 1-4-3 in its past eight. The Isles are 2-5-1 in their past eight games.
The Islanders still can get four points out of the final 10 available to them and be assured of No. 1 position in the lottery. So, it’s not like they have to lose every game.
But say it comes down to the final game of the season against Boston, and the top team in the Eastern Conference sits out its best players to rest up for the playoffs. Would the Bruins be tanking a regular-season game that could have a profound effect on the draft lottery?
from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
The Atlanta Thrashers all but ended the Panthers’ playoff hopes with a win in Sunrise last March. They might have just put the kibosh on Florida’s postseason chances again Friday night.
The Panthers failed in their bid to pull into a tie for eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, as they suffered a potentially devastating 3-1 loss to Atlanta at BankAtlantic Center.
‘‘It’s definitely discouraging,’’ goalie Craig Anderson said. ``At the same time, there are four games left. We can’t dwell on this one.’‘
via Tim Sassone of Between The Circles,
When coach Q met he media following Friday’s playoff-clinching win over Nashville, he said what he normally does about an injury, this one to Patrick Sharp.
Quenneville called Sharp day-to-day and said more would be known Saturday.
There’s no reason to think Quenneville wasn’t telling the truth, but there were rumblings in the halls of the United Center basement that Sharp’s injury, believed to be to his knee, was more serious than the Hawks were admitting.
from Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page,
Mike Modano was on The Ticket Friday morning and was asked by Norm Hitzges if he had decided whether he’ll play next season. Here’s what Mike had to say;
“No, not right now and I probably won’t for a while,” Modano told Hitzges. “I am going to take a step back for a long, lengthy part of the summer and see how I feel. I think time away from the game is going to help me mentally, just to kind of recharge, think things through and see where the team is heading….”
read on for more from Mike…
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.
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