Kukla's Korner Hockey
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail answered emails from hockey fans-
Hi Eric, enjoying your work this season, as always. Is it safe to assume that San Jose and the Red Wings will meet in the Western Conference final?
Eric Duhatschek replies: Is it logical to assume that? Yes. Is it safe? No. I saw both the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks play live in Calgary on back-to-back Mondays and those two teams perfectly illustrate why everybody loves the NHL playoffs and especially why everybody loves the first round. They are both excellent teams, and at different times can be wildly entertaining, but each has a potential Achilles heel; in Detroit, it’s goaltending; and in San Jose, it is the weight of heavy expectation.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
Referees Dan O’Rourke and Chris Lee, the guys wearing the decorative orange armbands Sunday night, apparently had a plane to catch.
Or maybe they had to be escorted to a local hospital for emergency surgery to have small metal objects removed from their digestive systems.
What other reason could there be for the refs ignoring the muggings outside the San Jose goal crease in the closing seconds of the Ducks’ 3-2 loss to the Sharks at sold-out Honda Center?
They must have swallowed their whistles.
added 9:55pm, from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
No supplementary discipline has been imposed against the Ducks or San Jose Sharks for their misdeeds at the end of the Sharks’ 3-2 victory Sunday at the Honda Center, and it’s likely no suspensions or fines will be imposed at all.
A league executive who requested anonymity because he didn’t want either team to view him as biased in one direction or another said he didn’t see anything that crossed the line that most concerns the NHL now: injuries to the head. The final say will come from Colin Campbell, if there’s anything to say, which there might not be.
from Paul Branecky of CarolinaHurricanes.com,
There’s a very real chance the Canes can climb up to fourth place and play their first two playoff games at the RBC Center, but they would need a little help. Even if they win all three of their remaining games, they would need Philadelphia to lose one of their remaining four contests. In that scenario, the teams would be tied on points but Carolina would have the total wins tiebreaker.
Given the way the team is playing at in their own building, home ice should be something to strive for at this point, even if Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who the Canes would be likely to play in that scenario, would represent two of the tougher potential match-ups.
“We’re trying to win as many games as we possibly can and stay on our roll,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “We want to do everything that we can to climb as high as we possibly can. Clearly we would like to have home ice advantage, but if that doesn’t happen we’re still charged with the same task to win in the first round.”
NEW YORK (April 6, 2009)—Montreal Canadiens right wing Alex Kovalev, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and St. Louis Blues center David Backes have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending Apr. 5.
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.
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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