Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Here are my choices for this year’s awards: Hart (most valuable player) -Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. Runners-up - Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings. The wording of the Hart is what gives voters so much trouble over the years. The award goes to the players “adjudged to be most valuable to his team.”
In the past, that’s frequently disqualified players on deep, talented teams from competing for the award, such as Datsyuk, for example. In a normal year, it is difficult even to select Detroit’s MVP – is it Nicklas Lidstrom; is it Henrik Zetterberg? This year, however, Lidstrom and Zetterberg had good, but not great seasons. Datsyuk separated himself from the pack – he is 20 points ahead of his nearest scoring competitor, Marian Hossa.
Datsyuk should be a finalist, as will Malkin, who is closing in on his first-ever NHL scoring title. Over the past two years, Malkin has always raised the level of his game during Sidney Crosby’s injury absences, but the fact that he plays on the same team as Crosby will hamper both their candidacies, leaving the dynamic Ovechkin to win the MVP again.
read on for more awards and other NHL topics too…
from Brad Holland of NHL.com,
T.J. Oshie, Joey MacDonald and Milan Lucic, step up to the podium.
These three players took home Fans’ Choice Awards for Goal, Save, and Hit of the Season, respectively, in NHL.com’s inaugural Fans’ Choice Awards.
While it may not be the biggest award these three have garnered in their careers, it is a fitting tribute for three NHLers who drastically overachieved this season.
continued with video…
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
Under the guidance of new owners, new management and new coaches, the Lightning were supposed to be winners this season. At the start of the 2008-09 campaign, there was enthusiasm and optimism that a last-place team could turn into a contender….
Here are five events that impacted the Lightning’s losing season:
Hiring Barry Melrose
Koules takes full credit, or blame, for this one after he sought the opinions of those who played for Melrose and was impressed by what he heard. But without a plan for training camp, any kind of set system in place or a solid plan of action, Melrose was fired 16 games into the season…
Dismantling the defense
By the first week of October,Tampa Bay had moved almost its entire defensive core from last season, trading away Boyle, Brad Lukowich, Filip Kuba, Alex Picard and Shane O’Brien and receving only Lukas Krajicek, Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle in return….
#4 Chicago Blackhawks (idle) can clinch the #4 seed in the Western Conference:
* If the Calgary Flames get one or no points against the Edmonton Oilers.
#6 Columbus Blue Jackets can clinch the #6 seed in the Western Conference:
* If they get at least one point against the St. Louis Blues.
#7 Anaheim Ducks can clinch a Western Conference playoff berth:
* If they beat the Dallas Stars.
* If they get one point against Dallas and the Nashville Predators get one or no points against the Minnesota Wild.
#8 St. Louis Blues can clinch a Western Conference playoff berth:
* If they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators get one or no points against the Minnesota Wild.
#9 Nashville Predators can clinch a Western Conference playoff berth:
* If they beat the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues lose in regulation to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
thanks to the NHL for the information
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
Jarome Iginla is as nice a person you’ll meet.
But the Calgary Flames captain sure can be greedy at times.
Asked whether it was more important to go into the playoffs firing on all cylinders or having won the division title, Iginla’s choice was both.
“I don’t think it’s all just about the division, but playing our best would probably lead to winning our division,” he said. “I think our game’s improved as a team the last 10 days and going in the right direction, which I think is the most important thing.
“But (the division title) is in our hands. We don’t have to watch Vancouver. It’s two games and we can win the division.
“I think they go hand-in-hand and we want both.”
via John Kreiser of NHL.com,
Anaheim (88 points) last played Sunday and has spent four days watching other teams get points. The Ducks finally hit the ice again Friday night, when Dallas comes to the Honda Center, then finish Saturday at Phoenix. Anaheim is seventh, ahead of St. Louis and Nashville, because it has won two more games than the Blues and played fewer games than the Predators.
St. Louis (88 points) has been off since Tuesday’s 5-1 win at Phoenix, which put them into eighth place—they’ve played one fewer game than Nashville. The Blues host Columbus on Friday and finish the season Sunday at Colorado, the last-place team in the West.
Nashville (88 points after a 4-3 shootout win at Detroit) stayed alive with a gritty, come-from-behind win in one of the NHL’s toughest buildings. The Predators are the first team in the League to finish their season, and must win Friday at Minnesota—then hope St. Louis and/or Anaheim cooperate.
Minnesota (85 points) is alive—but barely. The Wild have to win both of their remaining games—at home Friday against Nashville and Saturday at Columbus—and hope for losses by the teams in front of them.
from Jason Kay of The Hockey News,
Perhaps I’m just being wistful, a selective recall kicking in, making a bygone era seem more romantic than it really was, but I’d love to see a return to the divisional playoff format.
Eric Duhatschek weighs in on this in the next issue of The Hockey News and it’s an opinion I’ve shared for a few years: the blood feuds of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s were the products of repeated post-season meetings and geographical proximity and nearly always seemed epic. The Battles of Alberta and Quebec; Rangers-Islanders; St. Louis-Chicago; Boston-Montreal still resonate.
Granted, with more teams in the league, the frequency of re-matches would diminish, but they’d still occur more often than they do today under a revised system….
from John Bishop of BostonBruins.com,
Despite his CHC pedigree, there’s no doubt that most members of the Boston Bruins organization would agree that compliments from Bob Gainey go a long way.
After the B’s 5-4 overtime victory over his Montreal Canadiens, Gainey, Montreal’s general manager and head coach, dolled out several puck bags full of respect for the Black & Gold
“It was a great game,” said Gainey. “I think, you have to give the Bruins credit—they came to play.
“They wanted to play hard. They brought all their tools with them. They were emotional. They were desperate and they’re a good team. They are in first place for a reason,” he said.
However, he was right about another thing: his Habs are not going to quit.
And, clearly, now that le bleu, blanc et rouge are in the playoffs, the standings simply don’t matter.
continued and check out the highlights of the game below…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Nash scored the tying goal late in the third on Wednesday, his fifth in five games, to once more underscore his importance to the Columbus franchise. But while he’ll now finally get to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game, the elephant in the room is that he has one more year on his contract at $7 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Talks will begin this summer, and it should be obvious to Columbus GM Scott Howson after watching the Marian Gaborik episode play out in Minnesota and the Jay Bouwmeester situation crystallize in Florida that if the Jackets don’t have a deal with Nash done by September, there’s an excellent chance he won’t be re-signing at all.
If that’s the case, the smart play may be to trade him before next season even starts.
He’s from Brampton, so the connection to the Maple Leafs has been made repeatedly. Analysts suggest he’ll come in somewhere between Henrik Zetterberg’s $7.5 million salary and Alex Ovechkin’s $9 million on one of those whopper long-term deals, so this is his shot at a career contract. The Jackets, however, lost about $12 million last season and are probably deeper in the hole now, with playoff revenue set to possibly improve that figure.
If the Wings couldn’t muster enough fire in their bellies to take out the Predators, they sure as hell better be ready to do nothing less than sweep the self-proclaimed gifts to hockey called the Blackhawks this weekend, and they’d better be ready to do so by beating the puck out of them one shift and one battle at a time.
In the playoffs, there’s no room for mercy or politeness. You either beat your opponent to a bloody pulp or they do the same to you, and if you can kick them when they’re down, you do so, skate on. The Red Wings got “punked” tonight, and they need to take the sting they’re feeling and allow it to rekindle some punkish snarl somewhere within the depths of their hockey-playing souls.
-George James Malik of SnapShots. Read more from George.
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