Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
The matchup I can’t wait for? Chicago and St. Louis. Old Norris Division rivals; speed versus hurt; ample anger on both sides and one team can hold its ability to win Cups over the other championship-challenged franchise. Yes, please.
The fact Tampa Bay goalie and Vezina candidate Ben Bishop is sidelined seems to have made Montreal the consensus pick in that matchup. I follow that logic, but Tampa is an aggressive young team and the Habs defence can get twisted in knots easier than some realize. If Carey Price isn’t significantly better than Lightning fill-in goalie Anders Lindback, look out.
read on for 14 more...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The easy assumption is that the Bruins could get by the Red Wings, Canadiens, or whomever is left for the Conference Final without facing the gauntlet while the Western champion has to muddle through Chicago and St. Louis; San Jose and Los Angeles; just to be left standings for one round.
By form, the rested Eastern champ, Boston, should beat the weary Western champ, be it the Blackhawks, Kings, Sharks, or whomever else. But by form, Colorado and Anaheim shouldn’t have ended up in first place.
Which leads me to my Stanley Cup pick: The Sharks.
Why? In this first season of trying to figure out the new playoff format, why not have the team win we can never figure out?
from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,
“Paul is our coach, he’s going to be our coach going into next year,” said Melnyk, who suggested that there could be other changes within the coaching staff and hockey operations department.
While he cleared up MacLean’s status, the water is still muddy as far as Spezza is concerned.
“Jason understands what his role was and is,” said Melnyk. “He’s a professional and understands that he could be here today and gone tomorrow, or he could stay long term and be with the team for many years. (His future) is dependent on on what other pieces we need to put together.
“He’s one of 20 plus players. You can’t put all on his shoulder.”...
At the same time, however, Melnyk says that doesn’t mean he’s going to spend to the NHL salary cap. He insists the best avenue to success is spending money “behind the scenes”, scouting properly and on developing players from within.
“It’s very, very easy to increase payroll,” he said. “Any idiot can do it. Lots of idiots do.”
from Rory Boylen of The Hockey News,
Your team isn’t as good or as complete as you believe it to be. They will not win the Stanley Cup.
And here’s why your favorite team will come up empty this spring:
Anaheim: Because the stats community says you’re doomed to fail. Your team’s 49.8 percent Corsi percentage is second-worst among Western playoff teams, which means you don’t possess the puck enough. You were upset last year and it’s going to happen again.
Boston: Your team is the clear favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. But since upsets always happen in the NHL playoffs, this means you won’t fulfill that prophecy.
Chicago: Teams don’t win back-to-back Stanley Cups anymore. Dynasties went out with parity and the salary cap.
Colorado: Aren’t you supposed to be in the draft lottery?
Columbus: Not since the earliest days of the Original Six – and of the NHL – has a franchise without a playoff game win gone on to win the Cup. You’re out.
from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,
"I'm ready to name him," McLellan reiterated Monday. "I'm just not going to name him."
Niemi -- the Sharks' No. 1 goalie since he arrived in San Jose before the 2010-2011 season -- struggled down the stretch with three losses in five starts before Saturday, when he rebounded to make 30 saves to help lead the Sharks to a 3-2 win at Phoenix. Niemi has started all 34 playoff games since joining the Sharks, going 16-17.
Stalock has had an impressive season in spot duty, going 12-5-2 with a 1.87 goals against average. On Friday, he made 32 saves in the Sharks' 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Regarding the amount of consideration that went into the decision on who will start in net, McLellan said it's "the same amount that has gone into every other game that we've played in the playoffs and the regular season for the last six full seasons. That's the debate we have. We're a close staff. We include everybody, and we make decisions that we think are the best."
Almost four minutes of the best plays during the regular season..
How about 15 minutes worth of hockey bloopers during the regular season?
Watch them all below...
“He fought as a player, he fought for the union, he fought for the game and he (fought) for the integrity of the league. Now he comes here to fight for the Leafs. The one thing I know about Shanny is he’s going to fight for us every day.
“He may be analytical, he may be patient, he may not knee-jerk, but in that heart beats a man who is extremely committed to winning and doing whatever is necessary.”
-Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of MLSE on Brendan Shanahan, the new President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More on Shanahan from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Lehtonen last was in the postseason in 2007 as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Just 23 at the time, he had helped the Thrashers make the playoffs for the first time by forging a 34-24-9 record. In the opening game against the New York Rangers, he lost a 4-2 contest and was replaced by Johan Hedberg in Game 2. In Game 3, he returned and allowed seven goals in a 7-0 loss, and that’s the last memory he has of the playoffs.
But he said that’s not a problem for him.
“I’ve gotten pretty good at not looking back at all,” he said. “The past is too far away, so I don’t want to carry that or look back on that. To me, I have worked all year for this moment, and I think I’m ready.”
And yet he does appreciate the maturing he’s done. He was, after all, the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. So when the Thrashers traded him to Dallas for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, it was clear Atlanta had given up on him. Lehtonen said he used that motivation to drop 20 pounds, get himself in better shape and start to understand the position of goaltending.
“One of the things I love about Kari is he is a real battler,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “People tell him he’s injury-prone or out of shape, and he proves them wrong. People say he can’t get us to the playoffs, and he proves them wrong. He lets his actions speak for him.”
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
When Ben Bishop fell to the ice diving for a puck on April 8, the conventional thinking suggested the Lightning’s playoffs hopes plummeted with him.
A week later, confidence in Tampa Bay’s goaltending has been almost fully restored as the Lightning get set to start their opening-round playoff series against Montreal. With Bishop not expected to be ready to return from what the team classified as an upper body injury, Anders Lindback is expected to get the call for Game 1 on Wednesday.
Whatever doubts might have lingered when the Lightning were forced to turn to Lindback were washed away in Lindback’s three appearances down the stretch.
Since stepping in for Bishop early in the first period against Toronto, Lindback has allowed just two goals in three games, posting a 0.67 goals-against average and .975 save percentage while winning all three games. His first shutout in a Lightning jersey during Sunday’s 1-0 shootout victory in Washington clinched home ice for Tampa Bay....
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and I said it time and time again: that is just a great guy and he works his tail off,’’ defenseman Matt Carle said. “So, it’s no surprise to see how well he’s doing. And it’s just great for our team and we have a lot of confidence playing in front of him.’’
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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