Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“Just because we happen to get into the playoffs this year doesn’t mean we’re automatically in next year,” Davidson said. “So it’s just starting, this is just a process.”
The strong finish and developmental strides this season bode well for that process. The roster will be embellished next season with the return of Johnson and Kariya, as well as injured defenseman Eric Brewer. In addition, recent draft picks such as Alex Pietrangelo, Ben Bishop, Lars Eller and Brett Sonne will come to camp, hoping to push the growth spurt.
“There’s been a lot of things here that have been positive,” Davidson said. “The development of our young kids has been good. The coaching staff, despite all the adversity, has done a nice job. And our fans have trusted us so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. That’s the bloodline.”
And once again, St. Louis bleeds Blue.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• If I’m in an NHL playoff pool, I’m loading up on Red Wings, Sharks, Bruins and Penguins.
• You know Mike Babcock has made it big in Detroit when his players are starting to complain about him behind his back. For the record, the irascible Scotty Bowman never won a coaching popularity contest.
• The Leafs say they made a three-year, $5.1 million US offer to Dominic Moore before trading him. A Moore lawyer insists the offer was no more than two years.
• GM Darcy Regier is to blame for the Buffalo Sabres missing the playoffs. He didn’t come up with an adequate backup goaltender for Ryan Miller. Miller won 58% of the games he started. His backups, primarily Patrick Lalime, won 25% of their starts
a few more hockey notes…
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
In recent days, players stood up to Lemaire in the locker room. At one point during a practice huddle Thursday, one veteran actually cursed at him in front of his teammates.
Players were disenchanted he didn’t use Marian Gaborik on a 4-on-3 overtime power play in a must-win vs. Vancouver on March 31. In Dallas in March, players were furious the coaching staff took the bus back to the hotel while a dozen of them were left at the arena.
He has been in a rift with 20-year-old James Sheppard, one that came to a head in February when Sheppard asked Lemaire to loosen his grip.
from Rich Hammond of Inside the Kings,
Question: I talked to Brown and Kopitar and asked them, `If Dean asked you how to improve the team next season, what would you say?’ They both said, `Scoring left winger’ without much hesitation. Obvious?
LOMBARDI: ``I’d say another thing is obvious too.’‘
Question: What’s that?
LOMBARDI: ``All of these young players have to get better. No doubt about it. Actually, that part is even more important, because if they don’t make the commitment this summer, it doesn’t matter. When you put a bunch of young players together, learning to be pros and learning to make the commitment to be the best they can be, learning to be teammates, is as critical as their physical condition, their play on the ice. That starts immediately after (today’s) game.
from Stan Fischler of Game On,
• One of my best John Tortorella “insiders” suggests that we should not be surprised if the underdog Blueshirts pull a first round upset. “Nobody,” my Tampa Bay tipster advises, “is a better playoff planner than Torts. Say what you will about any other part of his style but, when it comes to the post-season, there isn’t a better coach.”
• Henny Lundqvist’s learning curve suggests that — hard to believe — his BEST is yet to come. The Maven predicts that THIS will prove to be his best playoff since he arrived on Seventh Avenue.
• Nik Zherdev is SO skilled that he always manages to pull off a deluxe move just when half the house is about to give him The Bronx Cheer.
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs, T
he other rumor - and this has been going around for a year now - is that Patrick Roy will be the next Avalanche coach.
I’ve been trying to get ahold of Patrick the last couple of days, to no avail.
But he did tell my buddy Bertrand Raymond of Le Journal Montreal recently that he no longer is intent on staying as a coach at the junior level, in Quebec, while his sons are still playing there, that he “will listen” to any offer to coach in the NHL next year.
Personally, I would LOVE to see Patrick Roy back in Denver. He didn’t always like me, and I didn’t always like him, but who cares about me - he’s a legend, and I have always liked being around him - even when he was cursing at me using every last profane word in the English and French dictionaries.
from Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle,
San Jose is better positioned to break through the conference ceiling than ever before. They have no real tactical holes, they have two very good lines and a decent third line, they are more willing to exchange body blows, their goaltending is solid if not necessarily elite, they don’t have listening issues with the coaching staff, and they almost never lose at home.
That’s the talent side of the team. They’re not quite loaded in that Detroit way, but their weaknesses are harder to repeatedly exploit….
Now comes the fun part. Teams that have gone three years or more without a playoff appearance get knocked out of the first round twice as often as they advance, because there really is such a thing as playoff inexperience. It’s hard to miss the playoffs three years in a row, so teams that get there are usually a little googly-eyed when they arrive, and since the Western Conference has three such teams, Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis, this can only help the hardy perennials like the Sharks and Red Wings.
But whether the Blues beat Colorado tonight, the Sharks will enter the postseason knowing they have done too much too well this season to claim that as an excuse if things don’t go as they wish.
via Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
Jacques Lemaire, the only coach the Wild’s ever known, has coached his final game with the Wild.
With clear signs before the game that Lemaire was indeed done, Lemaire finally confirmed it after the Wild’s 6-3 win.
“I think it’s time for the players to get a new coach and myself look at other stuff.”
With you coach elsewhere? “I’ll see. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting job. I was behind the bench there just before the game there, and I felt I was getting really tight because it’s something I’ve done for 15 years and I like it and I have to go.”
If St. Louis wins tomorrow, they finish as the 6th seed, Columbus 7th and Anaheim 8th.
If the Blues get one point or lose in regulation, Columbus 6th, Anaheim 7th and St. Louis 8th.
St. Louis plays in Colorado tomorrow at 5pm ET.
added 11:10pm, via NHL.com,
Anaheim’s 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix and Columbus’ 6-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday night assured that the last three playoff pairings in the Western Conference won’t be decided until Sunday.
The Jackets’ loss left them with 92 points, sixth in the West. But St. Louis could match them by winning at Colorado on Sunday; the Blues would finish ahead of Columbus because they won the season series between the teams.
If St. Louis gets one or no points on Sunday, the Ducks will finish seventh and the Blues eighth. The Ducks have 91 points and 43 wins; if the Blues get 91 points with an overtime or shootout loss, they’ll have 41 victories.
The sixth-place finisher will play Vancouver, which won the Northwest Division title and the third seed with a 1-0 victory at Colorado. The seventh seed will play Detroit, the Central Division winner and second seed. The eighth seed will play San Jose, which won the Pacific Division and captured the Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best regular-season record.
My question, Blues tied late in the 3rd tomorrow, do they pull the goalie for a regulation win?
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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