Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Seasons like the one the Caps have had don’t necessarily come around every day. Backstrom needs to be re-signed and it will cost a bundle. There are a number of role players whose contracts are up. There are always issues with keeping a team this talented together. And so, Leonsis knows the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been.
“When we articulated the plan, the strategy, the vision, this is what we said would happen,” Leonsis said. “But we haven’t won a Cup. The key thing here is for us not to think, ‘Yeah, we’ve won.’ We can’t declare victory. We could get swept in four games in the first round and we would look back at this season as an abject failure.”
That slender volume suggests the path to glory is on the table. How will it end for this dynamic team? We’re about to find out.
via an Elliotte Friedman tweet,
Michalek torn ACL gone for year
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider,
We’re only one day into the playoffs and Coach Bruce Boudreau is already riled up after a pair of media reports stirred controversy ahead of tonight’s Game 1.
I’m not sure where this report originated, but several outlets reported Alex Ovechkin took the slap shot that stung goalie Jose Theodore during practice yesterday.
“I don’t have a problem answering any questions,” Boudreau told a couple dozen reporters and cameras, many from Montreal, at KCI this morning. “Just get it right. That’s all I ask ya. Yesterday, it wasn’t Ovechkin who hit Theodore that was publicized everywhere. It was Dave Steckel. So don’t guess and make it sound like our best player is getting it.”
Boudreau wasn’t done, though.
from Andrew Astleford of ESPN Page 2,
A fist fascination connects some of the NHL’s most passionate fans.
For many years, hockeyfights.com webmaster David Singer was without a statistic that tracked the NHL’s toughest athletes. Without much trouble, he could locate the league’s leading goal scorer, an individual points leader—even the top player in penalty minutes served.
But who delivered the ice’s coldest clock?
What about a fights leader?
“It represents part of the game that generally represents heart and passion,” Singer said.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Dean Lombardi wasn’t exactly warned against becoming Kings general manager four years ago. But he wasn’t encouraged either.
His chief mentor, Flyers executive and Hall of Fame center Bobby Clarke, had the strongest words.
“He told me to be careful because he wasn’t sure whether they’d stick through what had to be done because of their reputation,” Lombardi said, referring to the Kings’ habit of ditching rebuilding plans, reversing course and getting nowhere.
After a long wait, the Kings have found their way back to the playoffs. They are the sixth-seeded team in the tough Western Conference and Thursday night play their first postseason game since 2002, facing the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks.
via Mike Harrington of Sabres Edge at the Buffalo News,
Lindy Ruff just announced that Jochen Hecht had to have another procedure on his finger yesterday and will be out for “weeks, not days.” Looks like he’s out for the entire series, perhaps longer if the Sabres advance.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
We are a hockey nation. Except in June.
Makes you wonder if Ron Wilson, then coaching the San Jose Sharks, was on to something a few years back when he argued Canadian teams can’t win the Stanley Cup because the pressure, scrutiny and expectations they face at home — not just at the rink, but the grocery store and everywhere else — is lethal.
The Canucks must contend with more than the Kings.
“I can’t wait to see the towels going and the excitement in the building and the buzz in the city,” defenceman Shane O’Brien said. “The first time, it can play into your nerves a little bit.
“I got asked today about my first playoff game. It was my rookie year with Tampa [in 2007]. But I was way more nervous for Game 1 last year against St. Louis because you could feel the electricity, feel the excitement. I think it can affect you.”
But Canuck coach Alain Vigneault believes the idea that it’s harder for Canadian teams to win is nonsense.
via a Darren Dreger tweet,
Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a two year contract with the Maple Leafs.
added 10:42am, via TSN,
The contract still needs to be signed, but it’s believed to be in the range of $1.3 million to $1.5 million per season.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
It’s in his eyes and attitude, his words and actions. Basically, it’s in everything he does.
Ryan Miller has a desire to be elite, a hunger to be champion.
“This guy, he wants to be the best,” Buffalo Sabres teammate Steve Montador said. “He practices to be the best. He talks about being the best. Not in a cocky “I’m better than anybody,’ with a sense of entitlement, it’s, “I want to be the best. Don’t you want to be the best with me?’
“What he represents is true grit and character of a winner. No matter what, he’s going to give it his all. If it doesn’t attract you, there’s something wrong with you.”
Now is when Miller’s magnetic approach needs to pull his team forward.
from Mike Wise of the Washington Post, .
..on the eve before the NHL’s most potent team began a playoff run that only ends good for them if they raise the Stanley Cup in June, Laich was asked about whether the Capitals were ready to settle unfinished business.
“I guess people can say that, but it feels like a different season,” he said. “As far as unfinished business, yeah, maybe for all of us here last year. But this is bigger than that. It’s about the fact that no Caps team has ever won the Stanley Cup.
“It’s about this team going farther. You want to break records, you want to do things that no team has done before, set individual and team records no one else has set. We’re aiming to be separate from anybody.”
They’re gifted, focused, and for the first time in forever, favored to win it all. Alex Ovechkin and most of the main characters return. But General Manager George McPhee has infused his team with role players who understand that, in the playoffs, it is better to be gritty than pretty.
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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