Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Reed of Puck-rakers,
For a franchise trying to convince its fan base that the answers are in the locker room and behind the bench, it was a performance as ill-timed as a pimple on the morning of prom.
The Blue Jackets were drilled by the Canucks, 7-3, last night in a game as unsightly as almost any this season. The Jackets built an unexpected 2-0 lead and caved at the first sign of adversity.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Gustavsson, this young into his career, doesn’t yet look the like real deal but he is more than inching his way in the right direction. His personal coach, Francois Allaire, thinks he is only scratching the surface of the kind of goalie he can be. He would like Gustavsson to be more steady, less spectacular, more focussed avoiding the bad goal against, less reliant like he was last night of having to be spectacular when it was necessary.
“After the first two goals against, he just took care of the rest of the business,” said Allaire, talking about his 3-2 win last night against the Florida Panthers. “He made a lot of special saves. Jonas is starting to understand how to win and in the NHL that’s a long process.”
This is just the beginning. The assumption is he will get better, which bodes very well for the Leafs future in goal. The assumption is, this is only the beginning of the learning curve. But that’s the rub with goaltenders. Just when you think you know, you don’t. Just when you think Jose Theodore is a most valuable player, he becomes unwanted in two other cities. The Patrick Roys and the Martin Brodeurs only come along once or twice in a lifetime.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We are at the midway point of the season, and I figured it was time to look back at the worst prediction I made in September by far: that the Colorado Avalanche would finish last in the Western Conference.
Of course, I wasn’t alone in the media to make that assertion; it was a widespread feeling. But it doesn’t get me off the hook. So, when Avs coach Joe Sacco gave me a call this week, he broke into a hearty laugh when I told him how much crow he’s making a lot of us hockey scribes eat these days.
It was the kind of laugh that makes you feel like Sacco is enjoying beating down the dire preseason predictions. Last place? Ha! Try 24-13-6 heading into Wednesday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, and battling for first place in the Northwest Division and third place in the West.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin took the ice for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens wearing the captain’s ‘C’ on his sweater, introducing him to the Verizon Center fans as the 14th captain in club history. Vice president and general manager George McPhee and head coach Bruce Boudreau made the selection and Boudreau informed his team of the decision this morning.
Ovechkin, 24, is the first European-born captain in Capitals history and the second-youngest captain in team history (Ryan Walter was 21 when he captained the 1979-80 team). The Moscow native is the sixth Russian-born player to be an NHL captain and joins Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk as the only active Russians to captain their teams (Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Alexei Yashin and Alexei Zhamnov are the previous ones). Ovechkin, who has been one of Washington’s alternate captains since his second season in the league, succeeds Chris Clark as Capitals’ captain following Clark’s trade to Columbus last week.
Alex Ovechkin … What Others Are Saying
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Look—we’ve all been part of a bad bill before. And, yes, NHL players can become targets in a situation like this one.
But the end result was 20 millionaires didn’t suck it up. Men who get more stuff for free in a year than anyone reading this column does in a lifetime, refused on principle to come up with less than $1,000 apiece for them and their spouse/girlfriend on New Year’s Eve. Instead, they created an incident that stained a once proud organization’s reputation from coast to coast.
Another dent in a train wreck of a season—in Calgary, no less. Like the story of the Oilers dine-and-dash wouldn’t have legs in that city? Sheesh.
Within days, team owner Daryl Katz had canceled a planned golf trip to Palm Springs for the players and their wives. The Oilers say the two incidents had nothing to do with each other, but we can only hope that isn’t true.
Now, the players will stay in minus-20 Edmonton for a mini-training camp instead of teeing it up in the sunshine. And their wives will sip Tim Horton’s coffee instead of Cosmopolitans by the pool.
from John Shannon of Sportsnet,
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Western Conference is a better brand of hockey. Look at Canada’s Olympic team: 16 of the 23 players are from the West. Or is that because the whole management team is from Western Conference teams; Yzerman and Holland from Detroit, Armstrong from St. Louis, Lowe from Edmonton. But then again Brian Burke’s America has 12 players from the West. (Hey, isn’t that where Burke really cut his teeth as a manager?) The true measure of the balance will be in the final points standings. It could take something in the mid- to upper-90s to get a playoff spot in the West, while it might be only mid-80s in East.
more hockey topics…
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Star center Patrice Bergeron could be out anywhere from two to six weeks with a thumb injury, a source told ESPN.com Tuesday.
added 2:46pm, via Darren Dreger’s Twitter,
Bergeron believed to have suffered a thumb injury. 3 weeks, according to a source.
updated 3:53pm, from a tweet by Daren Millard of Sportsnet,
Plenty of concern regarding Patrice Bergeron. We r told the hand is week to week. His olympics r not in danger.
updated 5:39pm, What I am hearing on this is 2-3 weeks for Bergeron after visiting with a doctor today.
from Gare Joyce at Sportsnet,
I dialed up the scouts in my Rolodex this last few days. The grumpiest were still in Saskatoon. The slightly less grumpy were ones who were home from the tournament and thawing out. Happiest - or at least as happy as a scout gets - somehow avoided the tournament assignment.
One of the great disconnects between fact and public perception is that the world under-20s is a priority assignment for NHL scouts leading up to the draft in June. Such is rarely the case and maybe in no year has it been so far down the list as this year.
Those NHL scouts who made the trip out to Saskatoon were mostly doing check-ins on prospects that their teams had already drafted. There weren’t really any great discoveries to be made in Saskatoon.
I explain why in my NHL.com blog today.
from Alex Quigley of All Q’d Up at ChicagoNow,
Three years ago I hardly cared that Chicago owned one of the Original Six franchises—and I probably would’ve had to cheat to guess who the other five were. So I guess I gotta come clean: I am a bandwagon jumper….
And in the midst of the biggest collective letdown amongst our pro teams—the Blackhawks shine alone, exceeding already-high expectations. And hey, home games are actually on TV now! I thank Blackhawks fans for not hitting us bandwagon-jumpers with the typical hockey fan response: “Doooood, hockey for life! You’re too late!” Instead, every lifelong Hawks fan I know has been incredibly kind and generous in sharing their hockey knowledge. I even got Blackhawks tickets for Christmas. I laughed and smiled like it was a Red Ryder BB gun.
Now, if one of you could explain to me what that blue line is for, I would appreciate 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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