Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
He rises every day by around 5:30 a.m., works hard and lives hard, creating the impression he’s plotting 24 hours a day how to beat the other guy.
How much of the Burke image is reality, and how much is perception, depends on whom you talk to.
But there’s this palpable sense of momentum, of pushing, of aggression, that is undeniable.
With the Maple Leafs wrapping up their season tonight, it’s as though Burke began next season several weeks ago. Right now, he’s calculating ways to move up in the June entry draft, chasing highly touted U.S. collegiate defenceman Matt Gilroy and sending reverberations throughout the Swedish Elite League with his urgent pursuit of 24-year-old Farjestad goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
It’s not at all clear that the Leafs will be a better hockey team next season, or that in April 2010 they’ll play their first Stanley Cup playoff game in six years.
But Burke and his lieutenants sure create the perception that they’re striving to improve, and that ultimately they will compete with the best teams in the league.
#4 Philadelphia Flyers can clinch the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference:
* If they get more points from their game against the New York Islanders than both the Carolina Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Penguins get from their games against New Jersey and Montreal, respectively.
#5 Carolina Hurricanes can clinch the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference:
* If they beat the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers get no points against the New York Islanders.
#6 Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference:
* If they beat the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers get no points against the New York Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes get one or no points against the New Jersey Devils.
#7 New York Rangers (idle) can clinch the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference:
* If the Montreal Canadiens get no points against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
Coach Jacques Lemaire’s eyes sparkled after this one. He was so proud of the Wild’s effort. He was so proud he finally got the team to play like he’s wanted them to all year. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Lemaire might have coached his final home game. He said afterward that his mind’s made up on whether he plans to step down or not. My gut says he will coach his final game tomorrow in Columbus.
This is a man who needed two weeks away last year to determine if he wanted to coach again. He had to be convinced to come back by Doug Risebrough persuading him that he didn’t lose the team and that he can still reach today’s players.
Judging by his rants lately, I think Lemaire’s questioning that again and has decided he’s had enough.
from Rich Hammond of Inside the Kings,
Here’s what Dustin Brown had to say today about the Kings’ needs and his thoughts about where they’re headed
Question: If Dean Lombardi comes to you and asks you what this team needs in order to improve, what do you tell him?
BROWN: ``From a personnel standpoint right now, what sticks out in my mind is left wing. I’m playing left wing, and I have no problem playing left wing, but I think Terry prefers me on right wing. I’ve played the last 15 games or so on the left, and it has definitely taken some time to get adjusted to. We also had Zeus (Michal Handzus) playing left wing, and he’s a natural center. He’s been one of our better centers this year and he’s great on faceoffs. He was playing left wing for five or six games. We got rid of Cammy (Michael Cammalleri) last year, and with Sully (Patrick O’Sullivan) getting dealt at the deadline this year, it feels like, from a personnel standpoint or a positional standpoint, it’s left wing.’‘
Question: That question is not meant as disrespect to anyone in the room, of course…
BROWN: ``No, not at all. But when you look at our lineup, Fro (Alexander Frolov) plays left wing, but I would prefer the right side and I think Zeus would prefer to play center obviously. We were putting one of our best faceoff men on the wing, so that obviously shows a need.’‘
from Jeff Gordon of Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“God it feels good,” Murray said. “I feel good for these guys, obviously, and 19 1/2 thousand of their good friends right now. It’s pretty special.
“It just shows you that if you stick with it. and I know I sounded like a broken record to a long of you since the beginning of the year, when I said we were working our tails off . . .
“When I look back at it, I’ll probably realize how difficult it was to do it. I think we tried to be as good as we could be in each game we played and the guys were echoing the same sentiments. It’s a hard-working group of guys. They work hard in practice.
more and below, watch Chris Mason and David Backes as they discuss being in the playoffs…
Steve Ott of the Stars and Mike Brown of the Ducks had a little chat last night.
The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs last season but could be returning with home ice advantage in the first round as Northwest Division champs, depending on what transpires on Saturday.
Vancouver (44-27-10) can clinch their third division title in five years with a win or an overtime loss in a 12 p.m. PT start in Denver, Colorado.
Tootoo with a shoulder to the head of Fritsche, who did have his head down. No penalty on the play.
St,.Louis Blues are in the playoffs, the Nashville Predators are not.
If the Anaheim Ducks get at least one point tonight, then the Minnesota Wild will also be eliminated.
added 11:22pm, With the Calgary losing to Edmonton, the Blackawks are locked into the 4th seed in the Western Conference.
added 4/11/09 12:49AM, Ducks win in shootout. Playoff teams in the West are set.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
Few hockey savants picked the Boston Bruins to bestride the Eastern Conference and emerge as a Stanley Cup contender.
A playoff team, yes, but this?
The seeds, planted in an exhausting seven-game playoff defeat against the Montreal Canadiens, germinated over the summer and sprouted to mad-science proportions once the NHL season began.
“I think it all goes back to that series last year,” all-star Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas said. “We’d had an up-and-down year, but showed we could go up against a top team and not give an inch. That’s when we came together as a team.”
A healthy dollop of the Bruins success is owed to a breakout, Vezina-calibre year by Thomas, who leads the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average.
continued plus more NHL talk…
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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