Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
Here’s the thing about the Maple Leafs’ close-to-historically – and for some of you no doubt hysterically – lousy start to the season. Forget about the Phil Kessel trade, at least until the guy takes a shift. Kessel? Draft picks? Lottery picks? The Leafs’ crisis is much more immediate than that.
Mike Komisarek, who started to hear the boos Tuesday night before the rest of the Leafs, said it was a matter of “winning 1-on-1 battles and making five-foot passes.”
Still, it’s tough to see where individual battles will be won with this group. The only professional, non-panicky game they’ve received from a goalie this year came from Jonas Gustavsson and he’s hurt. He is the only one who can save this thing from becoming even more pear-shaped and, considering his lack of track record, ought to scare the crap out of you.
The Leafs have forwards who think truculence means taking a holding or hooking penalty in the offensive end – the Avalanche’s first power-play goal came with Alexei Ponikarovsky in the penalty box for a holding call behind the Avalanche goal. They have lots of guys who can fight – but that’s kind of a non-starter when the other team is kicking your butt playing within the rules, no?
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
...But you sure don’t go out of your way to comfort the enemy, right?
Well, apparently, if you’re the Leafs, you do.
Mired in a depressing five-game winless streak to start the season, the game operations staff thought that with the Colorado Avalanche in town Tuesday night it was a perfect time to pay tribute to Darcy (Sideshow Bob) Tucker, one of the feistier, most popular and more publicity-conscious Leafs to play in Toronto in recent years.
First came a generous video collage 10 minutes into the game and then a loud ovation, to which Tucker responded by standing at the Colorado bench and waving to the Air Canada Centre faithful.
All that was missing was a bouquet of roses.
While the fans clapped and the Avs players tapped their sticks, the players who currently skate for the Leafs sat stonefaced on the bench or stood motionless on the ice.
“No impact on us as players at all,” insisted veteran winger Jamal Mayers.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Thomas Vanek left for good with 7:14 to play in the second period after scoring his second goal in the 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Coach Lindy Ruff revealed Vanek will miss several weeks with an undisclosed upper body injury.
Vanek slid hard into the end boards after scoring the goal on Derek Roy’s third assist in a 4½-minute span, but Ruff said the injury actually occurred before that play. Television shots of Vanek on the bench before the shift showed Vanek grimacing while moving his neck/shoulder area.
Vanek’s shoulder was not in a sling when he left the locker room about 40 minutes after the game was over, and he was believed to have undergone X-rays on his ribs.
“It was before the goal, when I collided with [former Sabre Brad] May,” Vanek told The Buffalo News. “I went to hit him, and it happened there. I just finished the shift and felt it after. I knew right away and just tried to tough it out. After the shift, I just got it checked out.”
The injury woes of the Vancouver Canucks continue to mount as the team learned Tuesday that they would be without defenceman Sami Salo for up to six weeks after the blueliner sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Making that first pass from the defense, who does it the best…
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, Pronger, Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer, Washington’s Mike Green (yes, despite his fabulous wheels and impulse to skate the puck, he threads some terrific passes), Philadelphia’s Kimmo Timonen, Pittsburgh’s Sergei Gonchar, Detroit’s Brian Rafalski and Montreal’s Markov. Until he returned home to play in the KHL this season, ex-Dallas blueliner Sergei Zubov might have topped the list.
more plus other hockey topics…
from the CP at TSN,
NHL tough guy Georges Laraque is pumping out apologies faster than he pummels his opponents’ faces.
The Montreal Canadiens enforcer says he’s sorry for appearing in an ad being slammed as sexist.
Women’s groups have decried the ad for an alcohol drink in which Laraque plays street hockey with a group of scantily clad women.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We’re five games into the season, and you start to see what Dean Lombardi was thinking.
The Los Angeles Kings GM believed the window was opening for his up-and-coming club this past summer, so he sprinkled in a pair of veterans into the lineup in the hope they would help get the team over the hump. There’s lots of hockey to be played, but defenseman Rob Scuderi, second on the team with 10 blocked shots, and star winger Ryan Smyth have had an immediate impact.
Playing on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, Smyth has eight points (4-4) in five games.
“Kopy, Justin and myself have been working well together,” Smyth told ESPN.com from the New York area, where his team beat the Islanders on Monday and face the Rangers on Wednesday.
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock and his 19-year-old rookie Nikita Filatov met for more than 10 minutes at center ice this morning as the players swirled around them. It was a fascinating scene as Hitchcock, at times tapping his stick on the ice, conveyed what’s expected of the talented Filatov.
By all accounts, it was a healthy and constructive chat.
The coach let Filatov know he would be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game. He also emphasized that Filatov needs to be more competitive on the puck. A smiling Filatov said Hitchcock told him he’s been getting “worse,’’ over the course of the four games. Never mind his ice time has been decreasing each night. Hitchcock wants Filatov thinking “quality over quantity.”
But the most interesting element—and I don’t want to reveal too much because columnist Bob Hunter will be writing about the topic for Wednesday—is that both player and coach conceded that Nikolai Zherdev has been discussed in relation to Filatov’s development.
from Katie Strang of Isles Files,
There is no timetable for Rick DiPietro to come back for an NHL game, but he is watching the clock. And he was pleased that his workout with six skaters at Islanders practice today represented the longest he has been on the ice in a live workout during his rehab.
He was encouraged, and demanding of himself. It was a step forward for him, seeing “live” shots from skaters who were really trying to score. At one point, they did breakaways. At another all six were on various spots on the ice, taking turns firing shots at him. He did quite well in turning them away.
via Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
Here at practice, it’s quite cold but there’s a nice view of Chelsea Piers — I took some pictures to post later — and it smells better than when the players arrived. Seems as though there was a sewage issue in the locker-room area, and the whole area smelled like…well, sewage. Practice is ongoing now. Report to come a bit later…
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