Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Star-Tribune,
If the “Team of 18,000” is actually a brainwashed “Cult of 18,000,” well, the normally trusting followers are beginning to revolt.
It’s not only the anonymous bloggers, talk-show callers, message-board fanatics and newspaper e-mailers who have a growing frustration toward the Wild.
If the Wild brass actually believes that—and it appears to—it needs to leave its press-box throne and actually tip-toe—and I stress, tip-toe—through the stands.
The paying customers are ticked beyond imagination with the state of the Wild.
from Tracey Myers of the Star-Telegram,
Why they’ll make it
Sweet parity. The Stars are just four points out of eighth place in the Western Conference. How? Because outside of the Sharks and Red Wings, the West is a jumble of teams that just aren’t separating themselves much. There’s only seven points’ difference between No. 5 Vancouver and the No. 14 Stars.
Why they won’t
The hole’s too deep. The Stars have put themselves in a tough position. Now there’s no room for error, no room for a losing streak of any length from here on out. That kind of pressure can affect even the most resilient team, and the Stars could crack under the weight of that before they can make up enough ground to make the postseason.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
While the NHL doesn’t track time of possession, the Bruins’ offensive numbers indicate they have had the puck more this year than they did last season. By scoring five times last night, the Bruins jacked up their output to 3.65 goals per game, a Zdeno Chara-sized bump from the 2.51 goals they scored in 2007-08.
The Red Wings seemingly have mastered the art of puck possession. Their skilled defensemen retrieve pucks smoothly. They hit their on-the-fly forwards with outlet passes in center ice. The forwards carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and swarm opposing netminders. Even when a play isn’t available for the Wings, they backtrack, regroup, and try to restart the flow.
The Bruins, in contrast, have featured a more lunchpail version of puck possession that, while missing the grace of Detroit’s game, has been just as effective in wearing down opponents.
“It’s not like we have the puck all the time,” Thomas said. “And it’s not like we want to regroup, set it up, and try again, which is Detroit’s tendency. That Russian influence.”
from Dan Martin of the NY Post,
“I don’t want to be traded,” Weight said yesterday after the team practiced in Syosset in preparation for today’s home game against the Panthers. “I’ve been treated great here. I love the coaching staff, I love the team.”
But the veteran has been around long enough to understand how the business works. He signed a one-year deal with the Isles and has shown through the first half of the year that he still can play at a high level - and that he could help a team with more realistic postseason hopes.
“It’s always a possibility, seeing how the team started,” Weight said. “We’ll see what kind of position we’re at in the new year. But it puts you in a sour mood when you start hearing about it for the first time.”
from Mike Vogel of dump ‘n chase,
Five years ago tonight, the Caps were on the business end of a 7-1 spanking at the hands of the Sabres in Buffalo. The loss dropped the Caps’ record to 11-23-3-1 (Note almost exact opposite of current 24-11-3 mark). Maxime Ouellet, thought to be the Caps’ goaltender of the future at the time, started and went the distance, giving up seven goals on 42 shots. The game was Glen Hanlon’s 10th as the Caps’ head coach; the loss dropped his record to 3-5-2.
via Rich Hammond of Inside the Kings,
The Kings have traded Jason LaBarbera to the Vancouver Canucks for a seventh-round draft pick in 2009.
from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times,
This isn’t quaint anymore. The league believes the Classic — a regular-season game played outdoors every New Year’s Day — will be a long-term annual event that separates hockey from other sports; it projects the game as a midseason ritual for its fans to root nationally, not for their local teams. Already, there is demand for future games in Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal and Boston…
“This is part of our new business model and gives people a sense of what we can do,” said John Collins, the league’s chief operating officer. “We introduced our Broadband player, we reintroduced NHL.com. We have 53 million fans who love the game, 22 million in the arenas and a $2.6 billion business. But it doesn’t feel as big as it should.”
from Razor With An Edge,
When a team is surrendering 15-25 scoring chances a game while at the same scoring four times, and their goalie is allowing 5 or 6 goals a night, the coach can usually be heard saying, “If we could have got one or two more saves…” – subtly heaping responsibility for the losses onto the goalers shoulders.
But when the game is one in which the team grossly out chances the opposition yet loses a low scoring contest because guys who get paid to score, don’t, the coach almost always applauds the effort of his charges and then lauds the performance of the other clubs netminder. “We did a lot of good things…” he’ll say.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Wonky knee aside, it was a thrill to hit the ice at Wrigley Field. Sure, I got a few looks for wearing a Finnish national jersey (no reason whatsoever for that, by the way); but all in all, it was a great experience.
The NHL wouldn’t allow us to hold hockey sticks or shoot pucks, understandably, but just taking a whirl around the newly built ice surface was something else. The sun was peering over home plate and the conditions were ideal. The league can only hope for similar conditions Thursday for the Winter Classic (so far, the forecast sounds pretty good).
The sun, however, could prove to be an issue. You really blinked when you made the turn at the third-base end and the sun blinded you somewhat. Some players wore eye black last season in Buffalo, and we suspect much of the same again Thursday. Tinted visors, perhaps?
We all know it’s a long season and I missed the playoffs the last few seasons, so I’m going to do what I can to help the team get into the playoffs. That’s the most important thing, to secure a playoff spot.”
-Mats Sundin after his first practice with the Vancouver Canucks. More at the Vancouver Sun.
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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