Kukla's Korner Hockey
“Just look at the standings. [Friday’s] game was a huge two points for us and it set this game up in Chicago. We see where we are in the standings. We see the battle we’re in with Calgary and Chicago and even Columbus. We see how huge this game is.”
-Mats Sundin of the Vancouver Canucks talking about today’s game against Chicago. More on the Canucks from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province.
from Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald,
A day or two after the 45-year-old (Natasha) Richardson died as the result of a seemingly minor blow to her head in a skiing fall in Quebec, Bruins players Andrew Ference, Dennis Wideman, Chuck Kobasew and Matt Hunwick were carpooling into practice - and talking about the Richardson tragedy and its meaning to them.
The frightening part, of course, is the delayed reaction aspect of the “epidural hematoma,” or bleeding into the space between the brain and skull. Initially, the victim feels fine and believes nothing is wrong. But as the blood fills the space, pressure on the brain builds and it will eventually be damaged - often fatally.
Imagine how easily that scenario could play out for a hockey player. They get a good whack on the head, sit on the bench for a shift or two, and then tell the coach they’re OK to play.
“It probably happens once almost every game,” Ference said. “It shows how thin the line is between tragedy and nothing.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
• Unsung defenceman Francois Beauchemin, who ripped up his left knee in mid-November and needed surgery, skated with the Ducks on Friday morning and will be on the road trip here. He hopes to play in the post-season if they make it.
• Are there any free agents this summer who are going to get a six- or seven-year contract offer for $7 million to $8 million a year?
“Maybe (Jay) Bouwmeester,” said one NHL executive, who wasn’t including Marian Hossa, 30, or Johan Franzen, 29, on his list. Bouwmeester’s ace in the hole: he’s only 25 years old. Here’s the best of the rest: Habs Mike Komisarek (big hitter, shut-down defenceman); Tim Thomas (Bruins will likely retain him for $4 million a year); the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel (they have to come as a package though); Martin Havlat (Blackhawks will offer him one year at about $5.25 million); Alex Tanguay (only 29, and almost a point-a-game player); Derek Morris (good No. 2 defenceman in the $4-million range); Travis Moen ($2.5-million third-liner who would look good in Jersey); David Moss (six-foot-three, nice hands; the Oilers should take a run at him); Marian Gaborik (but you don’t want to sign him longer than two years with his injury history).
more hockey notes…
from the Edmonton Journal,
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland knows that trying to sign Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen is like trying to stuff a set of golf clubs into a carry-on, but there are ways to do it.
What if he traded forward Valtteri Filppula, which would take $3 million off the books? This would be pain for some gain, but he has another Finn, Ville Leino, ready to step in next season at one-third the price. He could also consider moving Dan Cleary, too, who has a cap hit of $2.8 million, but Cleary is more versatile, a better checker, and also has a no-trade clause.
He has to deal Group 2 free-agent forward Jiri Hudler, who is going to want $3 million a year off this year’s 60-point season, up from this year’s $1.15 million. And this might be a stretch, but he could buy out the last two years of 37-year-old centre Kris Draper’s contract at two-thirds of the $3 million remaining and spread it over four years on the cap.
added 12:24pm, Mike of Crash The Crease responds to some of the proposals made in the above article.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Currently ranked 25th in the loop with an average of 3.05 goals surrendered per game, the high-flying Flames have completely abandoned the defence-first system Sutter implemented when he coached the squad up until three years ago. That’s almost a goal-per-game more than the top-ranked Boston Bruins. No other team ranked worse than 21st in the category is playoff-bound.
But the big problem his team is having now is much broader than that.
“I just think our top players all at once aren’t playing very well,” said Sutter, whose club lost seven of its last 10 games before last night.
“We’re sort of in a position where we’re comfortable with a playoff spot and everyone else is playing and fighting like hell to get one. If our top guys get back to playing, we’ll stay in first place.”
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
The Sharks came from behind Saturday night to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 at HP Pavilion for a franchise-record 109 points — two more than the Detroit Red Wings in the battle for NHL supremacy with both teams having seven games to play.
But the victory could come at a price as center Patrick Marleau was injured late in the first period, tried a few shifts in the second and did not return.
“I just tweaked something in the lower body and that’s it, that’s all I can give you,” Marleau said after the game. “It was kind of a contact play, but not big contact.”
Coach Todd McLellan described Marleau as day to day, adding he probably would not be able to skate at today’s morning practice before the team leaves for a two-game trip to Calgary and Edmonton.
more on the Sharks and their victory over the Coyotes…
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
(Patrick) Kaleta was injured just three minutes into the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout victory over Montreal. Kaleta was playing the puck along the wall in the Buffalo zone when Maxim Lapierre hit him in the back and drove the winger headfirst into the boards.
Lapierre was given a two-minute boarding penalty. Kaleta played a few more shifts before retiring to the dressing room.
“Their doctors deemed him to have a concussion,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “That’s disappointing. When a player’s got his back turned, it’s disappointing. He took a tough blow there. You hope that it’s dealt with.
“That’s serious. Head injuries are serious. It’s been a big topic. It’s been talked a lot about. He was defenseless on the play. I don’t like it. I don’t think we should like it. I think the players need to respect each other a little more….”
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Dallas is 0-5-1 in its last six games, despite scoring the first goal in five of those games. The Stars fall to 33-33-9 (75 points) and probably need to win all seven of their remaining games just to get into the conversation for the eighth playoff spot in the West.
“It’s not acceptable,” said center Mike Ribeiro, who had a goal and an assist. “It’s our fault, and that’s what happens when you don’t play as a team.”
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Right about the middle of next month, the Blackhawks are sure to make their first postseason appearance since 2002.
With the season dwindling to its final games, they’re already getting a taste of what that experience will be like. That learning process should continue when the Hawks play their biggest game of the season when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night at the United Center.
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“Before the season,” Commodore said, “if you would have looked at their roster and said, ‘OK, this guy, this guy, this guy and this guy are going to be done for the year ... how do you think they’re going to do?’ With seven games left, I don’t think anybody would have guessed they’d be one point out of the playoff race.
“They just never went away. It’s been very impressive.”
“I think everybody did count them out,” Nash said. “I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I played for Andy Murray at the World Championships (with Team Canada) and know how good of a coach he is. Plus, they’ve got great players, so it was surprising to see where they were at the bottom. But they’ve been great lately, and they’ve got a shot at it.”
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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