Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
You have seen them this week, all over the Bay Area. They live in your neighborhood. They dine at your favorite restaurant. They post tweets at the next work cubicle. You can recognize them by their eerie expression of wary hope mixed with glorious doom.
They are Sharks fans. And they are afraid, so afraid. They want to know if it’s safe to go back in the water. For the playoffs, I mean. Perhaps you are even a fearful fan yourself, asking the same question.
My comforting answer: Yes. Yes, you can. You can be optimistic.
For the next two weeks, anyway. After that, no guarantees.
from Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
So what is Laviolette’s recipe for playoff success? It’s hard to know until you see him up close, but he offered a glimpse or two as the team finished preparations.
When he deduced that reporters were focusing on the veteran Pronger as a leader going into this postseason, Laviolette was quick to shift the focus.
“Let me just say that Mike Richards always has ratcheted it up every time there’s been an opportunity,” Laviolette said, “whether it’s been Olympics or world championships or playoffs or big games. He’s a guy that we look to. . . . When the chips are down, he’s played hard. He’s been good for us in big games. We’ve got a lot of them coming up.”
That may seem like nothing much, but Laviolette is keenly aware of the perception that Pronger is more of a captain, by nature and by accomplishment, than Richards. He volunteered his thoughts on Richards for a reason. And it is true, by the way. Richards was terrific for Team Canada in the Olympics, and he was one of the few Flyers who showed up Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Laviolette needs both men, Richards and Pronger, to make a deep playoff run.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Hours after Keith Tkachuk’s retirement news conference had ended Tuesday, the stage and chairs inside the Scottrade Center atrium remained in position.
That’s because the Blues will hold another news conference today, in which the club will announce Davis Payne will have the interim tag removed from his name and become the 23rd head coach of the franchise.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
Bylsma went on radio station “The X” yesterday afternoon and offered a remarkably candid look at what he would do if he were Cory Clouston, coach of the Ottawa Senators, and had to come up with a “game plan” that would be appropriate for taking on his Penguins.
As Bylsma last year was an untried rookie NHL coach who went all the way, and Clouston this year is entering his first playoffs, it seemed a generous offer indeed.
Bylsma, of course, would continue to have Ottawa defencemen Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov on the ice whenever Crosby steps over the boards. They are the ones held most responsible for Crosby’s dreary two-goals-in-17-games output against the Senators.
“It’s tough to get away from,” Bylsma conceded.
The real key, however, “if I was to put a game plan together for the Ottawa Senators – it would be to frustrate our skill players.” In fact, he might as well have said one skill ‘player” – Evgeni Malkin, last year’s winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs. Malkin has a habit of taking dumb penalties at the worst possible moments, and seems, in fact, to be getting worse rather than better.
from Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic,
The Red Wings are the team you didn’t want to face in the first round. They are the team you’d love to send home early.
Their fans are notorious for snapping up tickets and making a road game feel much more like home.
They are coached by Mike Babcock and employ Steve Yzerman, the two men who left Shane Doan off Canada’s Olympic hockey team. Subplots abound, and there’s no easing into these playoffs.
“As a boy, you don’t grow up dreaming about playing hockey,” Doan said. “You dream of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.”
The playoffs offer new beginnings for everyone, and it’s especially true in Arizona. Beat the Red Wings, and the future becomes a promise, not a threat.
from Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic,
The Glendale City Council unanimously approved a Jobing.com Arena lease proposal with Phoenix Coyotes buyer Jerry Reinsdorf Tuesday night.
The decision means that Reinsdorf, a Chicago sports mogul, and his group of investors will work with the city to hammer out the details of the lease and that Ice Edge Holdings is essentially out of the running.
It also means that Reinsdorf is on track to owning the team, pending the approval of the NHL.
from Erik Brady of USA TODAY,
The Cold War, overarching theme of the second half of the 20th century, is long gone.
Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin is living, skating, body-checking proof.
Who could have guessed when he was born in the midst of its chill that a son of Moscow would emerge one day as the most popular athlete in that other capital city?
“Amazing, isn’t it?” says Ted Leonsis, the capitalist who owns the Capitals. “Alex is a global citizen.”
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
On a pre-playoff conference call on Monday, Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations informed coaches and general managers of what the league views as potential postseason hot spots.
The threat of any confrontation in the pre-game warmup is of particular concern to the league. To the point, Campbell warned the 16 teams, if an altercation mars the series, the offending team could lose a roster spot on the night the incident takes place, meaning the disciplined team would be forced to play the game with 17 skaters and two goalies.
from Stan Fischler of Game On,
Parity never has been more apparent in the National Hockey League than it is this Spring.
Check out the match-ups and you’ll see why.
Here are my calls as the first-round opens on Wednesday night:
(3) VANCOUVER VS. LOS ANGELES (6): Nice. Very nice. If the Kings simply get over the un-real fact that they are in the playoffs, I expect them to surprise the Canucks. Sedin Twins or not, the Canucks can be beaten because Roberto Luongo is the most overrated goalie in the league. I like a team with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson on the blue line. MY CALL: Kings in seven
read on for the rest of the Round 1 predictions…
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Boston Bruins didn’t win the draft lottery Tuesday night, but they may still get the player they wanted when all is said and done June 25 in Los Angeles.
That’s if, and I stress if, the Edmonton Oilers draft by need.
Tyler Seguin is a center. Taylor Hall is a winger.
The Oilers, who won the No. 1 overall pick, need a lot of things, but nothing more so than a bona-fide stud down the middle, one that could play between first-line wingers Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. Enter Seguin.
The Bruins, who have the No. 2 selection, are set at center with Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but are seriously lacking when it comes to big-time offensive talent on the wing. Enter Hall.
Unless, of course, the Oilers’ scouting staff and GM Steve Tambellini ultimately concludes Hall is simply the better player and can’t pass him up. That could very well happen.
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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