Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated,
The Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks refuse to say uncle out west while in the east, someone forgot to tell the Toronto Maple Leafs to look to next year. The Alex Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals are defying all logic with their relentless playoff pursuit. And while those four situations are engaging in their own right, the two teams that have piqued my interest the most the last several weeks are the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers.
Now, the Panthers do this routinely every year: Fall far behind in the first half and surge at the end of the season, only to come up short of the playoffs.
NEW YORK (March 24, 2008)—Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala and Philadelphia Flyers center Daniel Briere have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending March 23.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
Lack of continuity has been the problem. Much of it has been their fault. Some of it hasn’t. Injuries, for example, remain a crippling presence, literally and figuratively.
“It seems like when we get on a roll, something happens. We get an injury or lose a guy, and it’s back to square one, trying to find chemistry,” said Brunette, the team’s second-leading scorer. “For me, the biggest thing has just been chemistry. Through injuries, through different things, we can’t seem to all get together on the same page when we’re out there.”
Those “different things” for why chemistry hasn’t been better, critics say, lie at the feet of coach Joel Quenneville. A growing chorus of fault-finders, on radio waves, chat rooms and the like, say Quenneville changes his lineup too often.
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Calgary Herald,
Twilight of the Goons? Requiem for the Heavyweights? Guess again. In case you missed the memo, fighting is officially back in the NHL. Saturday’s tilt with Minnesota featured a card of three, count ‘em, three staged scraps (at least IDLM was spared Mark Smith or Eric Nystrom risking life, limb and incisors for the cause).
The NHL mantra of having your tough guy and my tough guy square off in ritual fashion is that it “sets a tone” for a big game. Funnily enough, none of the NCAA games in March Madness featured a punchup at the opening tipoff to “set a tone.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Since Sundin was lost on March 15, the Leafs have a 3-1 record, which sets up this week’s home-and-home series against the Boston Bruins as the key to their NHL season. Since they are four points behind the eighth-place Bruins with six games to play, the Leafs have to win both games in regulation time to have any hope of making the playoffs. It is still the longest of long shots.
But it’s a shot, which is good enough for this group. They might even get Sundin back for tomorrow’s opener against the Bruins. Sundin plans to test his injured groin in practice today, and if the improvement he felt on the weekend continues, he might play.
Ask Maurice who is responsible for holding the team together in Sundin’s absence, and he says he can name just about everyone on the team. From goaltender Vesa Toskala, who made his 27th consecutive start to beat the Senators, to defenceman Pavel Kubina, who seems to have a hand in every winning goal lately, to young centres Matt Stajan and Alex Steen, who both have picked up the scoring slack.
from the Chicago Tribune,
“I’m just ticked off about a bunch of their players taking free shots at us,” an upset Savard said after the Hawks’ 4-3 victory over St. Louis. “After whistles, taking cross-checks behind their heads and behind their backs.”
Savard singled out the play of the Blues’ Barret Jackman and David Backes.
“Our game is a great game; let’s keep it that way,” Savard said. “We have two young kids ( Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews) who are playing their hearts out. If it’s [Pittsburgh’s Sidney] Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin, I don’t see any difference. We have to protect them….”
Watch the post game press conference with Savard…
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Roberts, who hasn’t played since breaking his leg and getting a high ankle sprain when Buffalo center Tim Connolly fell on him Dec. 29, aggravated his ankle problem when he stumbled while skating at Madison Square Garden in New York Tuesday.
He has stopped skating and is not expected to get back on the ice until at least mid-week.
Roberts’ oft-stated goal has been to dress for the Penguins’ final five regular-season games, but that would entail returning for the New York Islanders’ visit to Mellon Arena Thursday, which looks to be pretty much out of the question at this point.
from Ross McKeon of Yahoo,
People in Washington and Pittsburgh won’t like to hear this, but if the season were to end today, Jarome Iginla is the league’s most valuable player.
The Hart Trophy race has never been so hotly contested. The competition is very much a reflection of close races, parity throughout the NHL and certainly a trickle-down effect of what a salary-cap system means to the league overall.
But the 30-year-old Edmonton native, who captains the provincial rival Calgary Flames, is the choice. He may not have as many goals and not as many points as others, but Iginla is the living, breathing, skating definition of the award: the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.
from Mark Whicker of the OC Register,
Last month Brian Burke told The Hockey News that the 2008 Ducks reminded him of an awakening bear.
He said they appeared drowsy at times, and that at other times they’d stretch an arm and flex a paw and growl a bit, and then they might nod off again.
“But at the end,” Burke promised, “you’ve still got a bear.”
Well, the end is near, and we search for a sign of a Kodiak moment.
Instead, the Ducks look cooked in the Pacific Division race and seem consigned to a fourth seed and a first-round series against the Dallas Stars, if they can stop their freefall.
from Red Wings Corner,
When asked why the Red Wings have been able to string together so many 50-win seasons, Franzen’s first response was to point out the franchise’s veteran leadership.
“They make you relaxed,” said Franzen. “Of course you’re going to be a little bit nervous at the beginning (of a career). But they make jokes all the way to the game and it relaxes you. It makes it easy on the young guys. It’s a good atmosphere.
“Veteran players teach the young guys what it takes, preparation. The oldest guys on this team will often work out the hardest, set examples for the younger guys every day.
They don’t let up any games. They’re always prepared.”
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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