Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,
“It’s probably the most important week in my NHL career,” Ovechkin told a larger-than-usual crowd of reporters and cameras at Kettler Capitals Iceplex yesterday morning. “We had that bad feeling the last [two] years because we didn’t play for the playoffs.”
Tonight, Ovechkin (league-best 62 goals and 109 points) and the Capitals open a three-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes with a trip to the postseason—and the Southeast Division title—still within their grasp.
more (reg. req.)
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Bare moments later, there was Spezza standing, as he does every day, in front of his locker to answer virtually the same questions over and over and over again. Only this time there was a twist. Instead of being asked, “What’s gone wrong?” he was asked his opinion on the current muttering in the capital city that the Senators’ end-of-season woes are all because of a “lack of effort.”
“That’s bullshit,” Spezza answered in a refreshing break from the usual hockey clichés about game plans and keeping it simple.
“That’s bullshit — it’s not lack of effort at all.”
But it is … something.
from the CP,
Vancouver holds a slim one-point lead over the Nashville Predators in the race for the final playoff spot in the NHL’s tight Western Conference. Both teams enter the final week of the regular season with three games remaining.
The Canucks can assure themselves a spot in the playoffs by winning their final games, all of which will be played at GM Place.
“We have to be confident,” said forward Daniel Sedin, one of a handful of Canucks who practised Monday. “We have to look forward to the last three games, play them like playoff games. If we do that we’ll be fine.”
But instead of focusing on who is chasing them, the Canucks still have visions of overtaking the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche, teams that are ahead of them in the standings.
“It’s funny how one point makes a difference,” said forward Ryan Shannon. “We’re in the playoffs right now.
from the Phoenix Coyotes,
Phoenix Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney announced today that the Coyotes have signed center Kyle Turris to an entry level contract. As per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Turris was selected by the Coyotes with the third overall choice in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Earlier this month, he was ranked as the second-best NHL prospect in The Hockey News’ annual “Future Watch” edition.
“We are very excited to sign Kyle and have him join the Coyotes organization,” said Maloney. “He is a very talented player and is a big part of our future. By adding him to the roster, we hope to give him valuable experience that will help him heading into next season and beyond.”
from Pierre LeBrun of the CP via the Globe and Mail,
The final week of the regular season sees playoff spots still very much up for grabs in both the Eastern and Western Conference. The Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers begin the week on the outside looking in.
“It seems like it’s going to come right down to the wire with the teams we’re fighting for playoff positions with,” Predators goaltender Dan Ellis told The Canadian Press on Monday. “You just keep watching that scoreboard. You’re in the playoffs, you’re out of the playoffs, you’re in the playoffs — we just have to control or own destiny and put together some wins so we don’t have to worry about what the other teams are doing.”
That’s what everyone on the bubble wants to do this week — win out. Easier said than done.
from Inside the Kings,
Q: If you had to wager a guess; are you a member of the Los Angeles Kings next season?
Cammalleri: I would think so. My contract says that I am and I haven’t heard otherwise.
Q: Do you want to be back?
Cammalleri: I definitely want to be a King. It will be interesting to see what we do.
The Montreal Canadiens are going into the playoffs with plenty of question marks as captain Saku Koivu is out for the regular season with a fractured bone in his left foot.
Koivu was seen was using crutches and a foot brace as he left the Bell Centre on Monday. The 12-year NHL veteran told reporters that more tests would be done later this week and he would discuss more details of his injury at that time….
The team got some better news on Monday as they learned that defenceman Mark Streit showed improvement over the weekend and should play on Tuesday in Ottawa.
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
The Detroit Red Wings are on their way to capturing the President’s Trophy this week as the NHL’s top team in the regular season and yet you’d be hard-pressed to find many pundits picking them to win the Stanley Cup.
All the Wings do is win and win and win but they don’t seem to get the same respect right now as San Jose or Anaheim. Well, here’s something worth noting—Wings head coach Mike Babcock feels this is the best team he’s had yet.
from Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News,
At least they’re still alive. The standard sure has fallen for this team. Who would have imagined that, one year after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, the Sabres would be jumping with joy because they still had an outside chance to finish eighth?
The arena didn’t have much of a pulse Sunday. The fans seemed to know they were watching a squad that was going nowhere, a team that had gone from Cup favorite to also-ran in 10 months. The Sabres won. But for much of the night, they didn’t play with the sort of passion you’d expect.
There was no curtain call by the players after the last regular-season game. Presumably, the Sabres didn’t want to give the impression that their season was over. So odds are, this year’s team will never get a chance to skate around and bid the fans a final goodbye.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
“The single most important thing a GM does, and it’s miles ahead of anything else, is hire a coach,” Burke said. “You need to find a guy who can get the team to where it needs to be and then get out of the way. If I talked to Randy Carlyle 10 times last summer, that would be a shock to me. The one decision that will get you famous or get you fired, is who will coach your team.”
While a GM’s career body of work carries significant weight, our rankings focus more on performance over the past year, including at the recent trade deadline.
1. Brian Burke, Anaheim
The only thing missing from Burke’s portfolio was a Stanley Cup, which he accomplished last season with the Ducks. Burke has helped build one of the NHL’s top teams, but what’s even more impressive is how he took a very uncertain Scott Niedermayer situation and made his team better.
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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