Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
...And like another CBA poster child – the Buffalo Sabres – the Predators have rewarded their fans by essentially stiffing them. Former owner Craig Leipold sold the team before getting a sweetheart deal to own the far more lucrative Minnesota Wild, but before doing that, forced Poile to strip the organization of some of its top veteran players in a desperate cost-cutting move.
This is where it must end. And it must end with the Predators doing everything they possibly can to sign goaltender Dan Ellis to a long-term contract extension. If they do, it will require a complete about face by team management, which, before the playoffs, seemed intent on allowing Ellis to depart as an unrestricted free agent and next season go with the tandem of Chris Mason and prospect Pekka Rinne.
But the way Ellis, who turns 28 in June, played down the stretch and in the playoffs should change everything. He recorded the best save percentage in the league during the regular season and was spectacular in defeat for the Predators, even though he was victimized by a one-bouncer that got past him in Game 6.
From Dan Rosen at NHL.com,
In one corner is the mainstay, the ol’ reliable in New Jersey Devils’ dynamo Martin Brodeur. Last season, Brodeur captured his third Vezina Trophy in the last four seasons after setting an NHL record with 48 victories. This season he won 44 games.
In another corner, we have the element of surprise, the unlikely candidate in San Jose Sharks veteran Evgeni Nabokov. He has never been a Vezina finalist and had previously never played in more than 67 games in one season. Nabokov played in 77 this time around.
And finally, we have the rising star, the current and future “King” of New York in Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. This is Lundqvist’s third-straight season as a Vezina finalist, meaning he’s been in the final three in each of his three NHL seasons.
from John McGourty of NHL.com,
Despite a lot of outside vitriol among media and fans, the players and coaches of the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, who meet in Game 6 tonight (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) at the Wachovia Center have been professional and respectful of one another.
The Flyers’ players, coaches and management don’t hate the Capitals. And the Capitals express respect for their opponents as well.
via Spector at the Soapbox section of Spector’s Hockey,
Why the Bruins will win: The momentum and confidence is now fully on their side and all the pressure is now on the Habs at home. They’ve outworked the Canadiens in nearly every game in this series and will continue doing so. Appear to have gotten to Habs goalie Carey Price, while Tim Thomas will play well between the Bruins pipes.
Why the Canadiens will win: They should get a confidence boost from the rabid hometown crowd. Their young scorers finally came through in Game 6 and should follow it up in Game Seven. The coaching staff will stress out-working the Bruins, including making the physical sacrifices to make the plays that win playoff games. Carey Price will again stand tall in goal.
via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal (paid sub.),
Oren Koules, the prospective buyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has lost his second lender in three months as the global credit crisis continues to take its toll on sports financing.
CIT Group, which finance sources said had appeared ready to lend Koules up to $110 million, backed out earlier this month. This follows the loss of a pending loan earlier this year from Société Générale, which abruptly exited the sports business and scuttled an oral agreement with the Hollywood movie producer….
“It is fair to say that the financial markets are strained, as we speak, and we will look to help with the financing of a portion of the purchase price,” wrote Tom Wilson, chief executive officer of Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Lightning, in an e-mail. “The deal is still on.”
added 7:59pm, from Lightning Strikes,
Hollywood producer Oren Koules, who has been trying to close a deal to buy the Lightning for four months, has some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to two two helping hands that will provide $100-million in financing for the $200-million deal.
Lightning president Ron Campbell said Monday that owner Palace Sports & Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners will share the financing Koules needs to make the deal work.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Yes, that was Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing playing over the loudspeaker system, just minutes before the Calgary Flames took to the ice last night against the San Jose Sharks with their playoff lives on the line.
Hey, if it was good enough for the final episode of The Sopranos, it was good enough for the Flames, too….
“It’s a different feeling when you come to the rink knowing it could be your last game of the year,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said afterward. “We faced it now once and we know we’re going to need the same type of effort [in San Jose]. They’re going to be desperate the way we were tonight.
“It’s going to be fun. You can look back at different points in the series, but to have it come down to Game 7? Pretty cool.”
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
For the Canadiens, tonight will be the first time they face a possible season-ender. The Bruins, however, have been fighting to extend their season for quite some time….
Montreal swaggered into the series with all the confidence expected of a club that had claimed all eight meetings with the Bruins this season. Their chests ballooned even bigger when they took Games 1 and 2 at the Bell Centre, riding hotshot goalie Carey Price and the stick of world-class talent Alex Kovalev, who netted a seemingly back-snapping overtime goal to give Montreal a 2-0 series lead.
But four games later, Montreal looks like a broken team that’s staggering at the wrong time.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming – otherwise known as the Stanley Cup playoffs – for the Maple Leafs’ pursuit of Brian Burke.
It begins today. Officially, that is. Unless Gord Kirke has presented the MLSE board with an entirely different game plan, Burke has been the No.1 target of the Leafs since John Ferguson was fired in January and he’s still the No.1 target.
This thing is now going to heat up quickly.
“It’s going to go from 33 1/3 rpm to 45 rpm in a hurry,” one source said.
Update 2:33pm ET: More on the “Burke to Toronto” stuff from Bob McKenzie at TSN.
George James Malik writing about Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp,
But there’s a saying I learned in Manitoba: if you give a blind man a paintbrush and enough paint, and put him in the middle of a cornfield, he’ll eventually hit the side of a barn.
read on at Snapshots…
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Luongo has played two seasons with the Canucks. In the first he played like Superman and got the Canucks to the second round of the playoffs. In the second season he was average by his standards and the team didn’t make the playoffs.
Add it up and it would appear that Luongo is good enough to make a below-average team average but, even at his best, isn’t good enough to take it to the Stanley Cup.
If that, in fact, is Aquilini’s assessment of the team it then follows that Luongo should be moved for players who can legitimately change this franchise.
Again, that presupposes there’s a plan in place. We shall see.
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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