Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Over the next two months, the hockey world will focus on the chase for Lord Stanley’s prize. But before we dive headfirst into that wild journey, let’s sign off for this season and look at the teams that won’t make the spring party.
We’ll touch only on the 12 teams that were officially eliminated from the playoffs as of Friday morning. Let’s start with the Western Conference, and we’ll do the East later today:
Shame on yours truly for picking the Oilers to win the Northwest Division at the start of the season, but it sounds like we contributed to some inflated egos on that team….
We were told Thursday the Stars’ front office is not thinking about a coaching change. So it appears coach Dave Tippett is likely safe, which probably makes sense. The man loses Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov for almost the entire season and Brad Richards for the most important part of the year—the team’s three best players—and people expect the Stars to survive that? Come on, folks; let’s be realistic….
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Barring a setback, (Francois) Beauchemin will join them Friday night, and the Ducks suddenly don’t look like anybody’s idea of a walk in the playoff park.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Beauchemin told ESPN.com. “I’ve been feeling really strong.”
Although he does not boast the profile of the Ducks’ other twin defensive giants, captain Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, Beauchemin’s contributions to the Ducks’ emergence as a league power cannot be underestimated. During the Ducks’ run to the Cup in 2007, he averaged an incredible 30:33 a night in ice time during the playoffs.
from Dmitry Chesnokov at Puck Daddy,
SovSport’s Dmitry Shumin and I decided to catch up with tireless Datsyuk, who might very well be the third finalist, together with Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, for the Hart trophy.
Datsyuk discusses playoff pressure, Chris Osgood’s place in history, Don Cherry criticism, whatever this “Art Ross Trophy” is and many other topics. And just like in our previous interviews with the unsung Russian superstar, Pavel gave us more of his sense of humor….
They say that defense wins Cups. Are you worried about your last line of defense? Fans say that the Red Wings do not have a reliable goaltender.
They also say that you will be unlucky if a black cat crosses the road in front of you. I agree that goaltending is important. Goaltender’s play affects the confidence of the entire team. We are working on it, working hard in defense.
On a different note, your goaltender Chris Osgood caught up with Dominic Hasek and has as many wins. He is now 10th in the NHL history. But there is a presumption that Osgood was lucky to play for the great Red Wings.
Awesome! But what’s the question?
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
While the players will insist during the next few days it doesn’t matter which team they’ll be facing, I suspect they would prefer taking on Washington in the first round, and to do that they must finish as the No. 7 seed.
Why the Capitals? Why a team that has the NHL’s best player in Alex Ovechkin? A team that almost surely has this season’s Norris Trophy winner in Mike Green?
It starts with Jose Theodore.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Wings received good news on the Marian Hossa injury front, as an MRI revealed no torn muscle in his groin, which he injured during the second period of Thursday’s game. Hossa wanted to play in Sunday’s regular season finale in Chicago, but he’ll miss the last two games, including Saturday’s home game vs. the Blackhawks. Hossa and the club are hopeful that he’ll be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs.
“I’m pretty optimistic,’’ Hossa said. “I had some groin injuries before, but this one doesn’t seem like something that would bother me as much.’‘
more on the Wings…
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.”
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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