Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
Outside of Boston (Thomas), San Jose (Evgeni Nabokov), Carolina (Cam Ward) and Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) among teams that are certain to be in the playoffs, which teams feel secure about their goaltending?
The defending champion Detroit Red Wings? I happen to think Chris Osgood is a very competent goaltender, but based on his play this season, which has been decidedly inconsistent, he’ll need to make huge strides if the Red Wings are to win back-to-back Cups. Osgood insists he’ll be fine when the playoffs start, but I’ll believe it when I see it. His backup, Ty Conklin, has blown numerous opportunities to steal the No. 1 job away from him.
The Washington Capitals are hoping this is the season they take a huge step in the playoffs and with the probable MVP in Alexander Ovechkin and best defenceman in Mike Green, you’d have to think it is a distinct possibility.
But can they do it with Jose Theodore in net?
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
Trotz spent much of our conversation talking about the NHL’s looney-tunes points system that makes it virtually impossible for teams to gain ground in the standings during the second half of the season.
“At the end of the year, I’d love to see the games sorted out and the standings re-jigged to reward teams that won in regulation,” said Trotz, noting he’s brought it up with his GM, David Poile, in the past. “He just kind of looks at me and says, ‘Well, some teams will wind up with 150 points if we do things that way.’ And I say, ‘Who cares? If you’re a team like Detroit that wins a lot in regulation and you recognize and reward them for that, that just means they’re really good.’ ”
more & some HHOF talk too…
from Puck The Media,
PTM: ...are you kind of glad that ESPN doesn’t cover hockey anymore?
JE: Well, I think that all you need to know is - for those who wish that hockey was back on ESPN - last Saturday, which was probably the single most amazing night of the NHL season. Just in terms of teams switching places, dramatic things happening, crazy games, that kind of thing.
We went from Toronto to Philadelphia, we were in (Bruins radio play-by-play man) Dave Goucher’s room, having a couple cold ones. Now, the Sweet 16 is going on in college basketball at the same time, the only hockey we saw in the entire sportscast of “SportsCenter” was about 45 seconds of the UNH-North Dakota game, which was the one UNH tied with one-tenth of a second to go, that went into Overtime. That was 56 minutes into the telecast. There was nothing on the NHL in the entire show.
So, for those of you that hope that hockey gets back on ESPN, that’s what you’re gonna’ get. That’s where it belongs in ESPN’s hierarchy, because there are some bozos sitting in the accounting department in a bunker in Burbank, California running Disney, who look at the numbers and completely ignore the passion of hockey fans.
from the CP via the Globe and Mail,
The Montreal Canadiens will be without defencemen Andrei Markov and Mathieu Schneider for Monday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
It’s possible both players could also miss Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers in New York.
Neither veteran skated with the team Monday morning. A decision is to be made after Monday night’s game whether they will accompany the club to New York.
added 12:22pm, from ESPN,
Scott Burnside: Good morning, my friend. Well, seven days left in the regular season, and it’s hard to know which way to look for playoff race story lines. They’re like the pollen in Atlanta—everywhere.
How about Montreal? Six weeks ago, we wondered how many Habs were headed for jail, let alone whether they might make the playoffs, but everything seems calm now in Hab-land. The Canadiens have won three in a row and, if they beat Ottawa on Monday night, will leap over Pittsburgh into the sixth seed. Montreal looks like a team that could actually do some damage in the playoffs, or do you still have reservations about Les Habitants?
Pierre LeBrun: Scotty, two Saturdays ago on March 21, when the Canadiens were embarrassed at home by the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs, I was among the many who wrote them off. I just didn’t see the desire in that lineup to want to make a difference. Like many people in and around hockey, I was dead wrong.
more on the Eastern Conference playoff race…
from Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated,
Heading into the final week, Kings veteran Sean O’Donnell had yet to light the lamp in 78 games; Shane O’Brien of the Canucks remained goalless in 74 contests, and the Sharks’ Doug Murray hadn’t set off the siren in his 72 games-played. In fairness, all three are plus players and have been solid contributors on their respective bluelines, with O’Donnell still logging over 20 minutes a game, O’Brien providing toughness with 155 PIM, and Murray leading the Sharks in bodychecks delivered. He’s been credited with 165 hits.
On a side note, when it comes to defensemen in need of hitting the score sheet, 47-year old Chris Chelios has yet to register a single point in his 25 games….
This battle is between Jared Boll and Zach Stortini.
Last year, Boll led all bare-knuckle brawlers with 27 fights, four more than runner-up Stortini. Heading into the last week of the season, Stortini has dropped the gloves 24 times, Boll 23. The two have fought each other only once and that was last season. The Oilers and Blue Jackets don’t meet this week, so Stortini and Boll will have to find other willing combatants to settle the title as the NHL’s most prolific pugilist of 2008-09.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres can finish the season with 93 points. The New York Rangers, in possession of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, can finish with 95.
It doesn’t take Will Hunting to do the math and surmise the Sabres need the Rangers to lose at least once. An analysis of the schedule concludes that is possible. New York’s final three games are against playoff teams, so the Sabres may get help.
First, they have to help themselves.
The Sabres’ chances of making the playoffs go up with every game they win. If they win the final four, it leaves their competitors with little room for error.
The final week of the regular season starts tonight, and it merely kicks off with the defending Stanley Cup champs. The Detroit Red Wings visit HSBC Arena, looking to sweep the two-game season series with the Sabres.
from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,
Yes, the southern rap sub-genre that blows the roof off clubs with its aggressive and excitable up-tempo beats. Ever since crunk godfather Lil Jon started hanging out with Kari Lehtonen and the Atlanta Thrashers, it’s hard to think of hockey without hip hop. OK, it’s hard for me not to think about it. The following soundtrack for playoff contenders proves I failed:
“Neva Eva” by Trillville – Detroit: Fifty wins in four straight seasons and a cast that includes two-way maestros Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom means Chris Osgood can give up four goals a game and another Stanley Cup is still possible. You can neva eva/get on my level.
“No Problems” by Lil Scrappy – Boston: You don’t want no problems with me/we be 50-deep. There are only 20 of them on any given night, but it certainly seems like the Bruins go 50 deep, thanks to the emergence of players such as David Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Dennis Wideman. Plus, you seriously don’t want no problems with big Zdeno Chara.
read on & I admit, I have no idea what the heck Ryan is writing about…
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Certain NHL trophies are fairly easily to track using the wide array of statistics available at NHL.com.
Unfortunately, the Selke Trophy, awarded to the League’s best defensive forward, isn’t one of them. There are no definitive stats to track defensive awareness or own-zone reliability.
Without hard data to use, finding Selke candidates can become a difficult proposition. It’s beauty in the eye of the beholder; quite often, however, no two beholders have the same criteria for beauty.
“I think too often it is a subjective thing,” former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster told NHL.com.
“There’s no way to quantify the best defensive player,” added Chicago Blackhawks Assistant General Manager Rick Dudley. “You’d have to break it down to where you watched every shift and watched them closely.”
read on and names mentioned are Mike Richards, Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Kesler…
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Will the Blues make the playoffs?
“We’ll make it. We’ll play well (in Phoenix), then have Columbus at home and then we go into Colorado. Obviously now we need help. But we’ll get there. Our guys actually play better from behind.”
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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