Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Tom Reed at Puck-rakers,
You just knew the Jackets’ good health wouldn’t last. Goaltender Pascal Leclaire will miss at least the next two games with a possible concussion, coach Ken Hitchcock said. He was struck in the mask with a puck during pre-game warm-ups on Sunday.
Freddy Norrena will make his second straight start against Calgary on Tuesday night in Nationwide in what promises to be a testy game. [...]
Jackets’ winger David Vyborny is out for 7-to-10 days with a knee sprain. There was fear Sunday night that Vyborny’s season and possibly his Blue Jackets career might have been over.
And from TSN: “The Blue Jackets called up goaltender Dan LaCosta from the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL on an emergency basis.”
From the CP via TSN,
Alex Kovalev said making a hockey DVD for charity was prompted by his own heart troubles as a child in Russia.
The Montreal Canadiens star forward released a two-DVD set on Monday called “Alex Kovalev - My Hockey Tips And Training Methods.”
All proceeds will go toward helping kids around the world with cardiac problems.
Alex Kovalev could shatter some long-standing Canadiens records this season if he continues to put up points on the power play. With 16 goals and 26 assists with the man advantage, Kovalev is within four goals of Yvan Cournoyer’s record of 20 set in 1966-67. Kovalev is also eight points shy of Mats Naslund’s points record set in 1985-86 when he had 19 goals and 31 assists on the power play.
From Sam Weinman at Rangers Report,
When Brendan Shanahan walked off the ice and saw a large group of media around his locker today, he correctly guessed that the conversation around the team had changed.
“Let me guess: today you’re not going to ask when a good time is to start resting everybody,” he said.
From Chuck Gormley at the Sporting News,
Break out the sun screen and beach chairs. The Florida Panthers are in hot pursuit of a playoff spot.
With a franchise-record seven-game win streak, the Panthers are biting at the heels of the eighth-place Philadelphia Flyers. And with two games coming up against the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, they’re even flirting with what was unthinkable two weeks ago: a South-least Division title.
“There’s a good energy going around,” Panthers defenseman Steve Montador said. “There’s a little bit of a buzz.”
Update 4:28pm ET: Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail wonders if this is the Year of the Panther.
Update 5:33pm ET: Apparently Florida is the story of the day. Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet.ca also checks in with some thoughts.
From Dan Rosen at NHL.com,
This June will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Detroit Red Wings winning their second straight Stanley Cup championship. During the ensuing decade, the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Yankees, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots repeated as champions in their respective sports.
Detroit remains the last NHL team to do so.
The Devils came close in 2001, the closest of any team since those Red Wings, but like many former Cup winners, their reign at the top of the hockey world came crashing down in defeat. That’s exactly what the Anaheim Ducks now are hoping to avoid.
From the Denver Post,
Even if the Avs win the division and are the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed, they will open their first playoff series on the road.
The NCAA’s Frozen Four is at the Pepsi Center on April 10 and 12, and the logistical reality is that the NCAA would have claim on the building from April 9 — the opening day of the NHL playoffs — through April 12.
The NHL has assured Avalanche officials that the team will retain the home-ice advantage in the first round as the No. 3 seed, with four of the seven games played in Denver, if all are necessary. The league hasn’t said how that would work, but it likely would be under a 2-3-1-1 schedule, with the third through fifth and seventh games ticketed for the Pepsi Center.
*maybe it would be easier for everybody if they just skipped the playoffs? (kidding, kidding…)
From John Vogl at The Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres’ coach could face his toughest decision of the season Wednesday when his suddenly impressive team returns to the ice to face Tampa Bay. The Sabres have won two in a row and, at times, looked dominating doing it. All four forward lines were solid, with a player from each scoring Saturday during a 6-2 victory over Toronto.
But once again, Connolly could become a factor. The oft-injured center might be healthy enough to play against the Lightning. He sat out the three games last week, and the team has three days between games this week. That might be enough time for Connolly’s sore hip to get enough rest.
So, what’s a coach to do? Does he stick with the same lineup, reward the 12 forwards who spent the weekend playing well? Or does he risk disruption by inserting Connolly, one of his finest all-around players and a guy who can make a difference when healthy?
more... with Sabres one point out of 8th in the East
From Rich Chere at the Star-Ledger,
When the Devils started this season with their nine-game road trip and a roster that had some around the league holding back smirks, it seemed unthinkable that they would have the best record in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play.
Few doubted that a Lou Lamoriello team would be competitive, even one that lost its No. 1 center via free agency, was missing a top defenseman with a serious eye injury and had a plan in place to use goalie Martin Brodeur less often. But first place in the conference?
“If you looked on paper at our roster and compared it to some other teams in the conference, possibly not,” captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “But I think some guys on this team are underrated as far as putting up numbers.”
from Craig Custance of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Bubble teams aren’t just for NCAA tournament Selection Sunday. Thanks to parity and three-point games, there’s no shortage of bubble teams in the NHL.
As teams enter the final 10 games of their season, we handicap who is likely to be in and who’ll be out when the dust settles.
WE LIKE THEIR CHANCES
New York Rangers: After a slow start, things are starting to click for a Rangers team that many thought was the best in the East following a big-spending summer.
from Brian Costello of the Hockey News,
A growing trend in the NHL’s salary cap era is the fast-tracking of talented youngsters into prominent roles strictly for financial reasons.
That’s not really breaking news, but we’re sure noticing it with more regularity each season, especially when putting together our list of top 50 prospects for Future Watch 2008.
We were more than a little shocked to realize the top seven prospects from Future Watch 2007 made the quick jump to the NHL this season.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org