Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lightning Strikes,
So, this is what the Lightning has in store for Steven Stamkos, according to coach Rick Tocchet.
The team wants the 6-foot-1, 184-pound rookie forward, last summer’s No. 1 overall draft pick, to strengthen both his upper body and lower body. To do so, Stamkos will hit the weight room more, have one-on-one on-ice training sessions with assistant coach Wes Walz, especially on days when Tampa Bay has several clustered off days. But Stamkos also may sit out games to make that schedule work, and the first of those games is tonight against the Ducks for which Stamkos is a healthy scratch.
SI.com’s NHL writers will periodically discuss the latest news and address hot topics from around the league. This week: a look back at the first half of the season and a look forward to the stretch run.
1. Who is your mid-season MVP?
Michael Farber: Alex Ovechkin. He scores. He hits. He does everything but, like the carney barkers say, crawl on his belly like a reptile. While we have our shorts in a knot over the Bruins and Sharks, Capitals have quietly, it seems to me, been lurking. Ovechkin’s crazy skills and infectious passion are the biggest reason.
Darren Eliot: Zach Parise has been consistent from the outset and given the Devils, according to head coach Brent Sutter, the type of season that was needed by his team.
Allan Muir: I gave serious thought to Parise. I don’t think he’s getting the acclaim he deserves for the magical season he’s putting together. But as much as I wish I could give the nod to someone off the beaten path, how could it not be Ovechkin?
via Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Just spoke with GM Scott Howson in the lobby restaurant of the Blue Jackets team hotel. Goaltender Steve Mason is questionable for tonight’s game vs. Washington with upper body “tightness.”
update 7:10pm, Mason is in the lineup.
from Razor With An Edge,
In light of last night’s spanking in Motown I thought we’d revisit my premature blog posting prior to the first meeting in Dallas. The Stars followed my 10 step program much more closely in the latest shellacking at the Joe. Note: Additional editorials from last night’s outcome are in parenthesis….
• Win as few face-offs as possible as a way to set up your “checking game”. (37% on the dots, mission accomplished)
• Pay no attention to overrated forwards Datsyuk and Zetterberg - they’re so one-dimensional. Same goes for that free agent flop Marian Hossa. Instead, focus a lot of your effort toward ensuring Valtteri Filppula doesn’t “beat you by himself”. (All three scored, all three helped set up another goal, and all three dominated. Filppula was held scoreless and 0 for 4 in the faceoff circle)
OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators today recalled goaltender Brian Elliott and assigned defenceman Matt Carkner to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
Later, I briefly asked Ovechkin whether he was really trying to pick up fighting tips from Brashear, and he clarified, saying he wants to be prepared just in case anything happens, but that he has no intention of becoming a brawler.
“Show me how I have to do something if somebody grab me,” he said he asked Brashear. “It’s normal thing. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to get hurt. I’m terrible fighter. Probably worse than Sasha.”
Earlier, Ovechkin had joked that Semin “hits pretty cool, actually,” but when another media person now asked jokingly about Semin’s fight, Ovechkin bristled a bit.
“Well, he do it for our team,” he said of Semin. “And he fight. I want to see if you go over there and fight with Staal, and how you’re gonna be fighting.”
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
...One has to give credit to the cagey Burke for escaping a team that is already over the cap (Anahem is at $58 million thanks to Burke) and seizing control of a team that is well under the cap (credit to Cliff Fletcher). From his grave, Niccolo Machiavelli tips his hat to Burke, the master of fortuna (good luck) and skillful machinations.
This year, Toronto’s cap number is $47 million, while Los Angeles is at $45 million. There’s room for both teams to pick up one or two stars.
So don’t be surprised if you see an NHL superstar making his way to the Kings or the Leafs in coming months.
And don’t be surprised if fans in the numerous cities that are right up against the cap—such as Edmonton, Chicago, New York, Ottawa, Philadelphia, San Jose, Pittsburgh, Washington, Anaheim, Calgary and Detroit—find themselves waking up and looking with great envy at Los Angeles, where Lombardi might soon be hailed as the smartest head in hockey for the way his team has recently shed salary, positioning itself perfectly for the the NHL’s coming fire sale.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
There is no question a lot of teams up against the salary cap will be hampered in their ability to add talent – and salary – at the deadline, but you just know when push comes to shove teams that believe one more piece added to the puzzle will guarantee them a shot at the Stanley Cup, or at the very least a long playoff run, will find a way to make a deal.
The most obvious targets will be impending unrestricted free agents. Teams, especially those that have fallen out of the playoff picture, shudder at the thought of having an asset walk away without getting anything in return.
continue for players who may be on the move…
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The Boston Bruins surprised, the Ottawa Senators disappointed and thanks to parity, and all those extra points for overtime and shootout losses, about 25 teams still figure they’re legitimately in the NHL playoff race. Mike Keenan won his 650th game and is still employed as an NHL coach, while Barry Melrose was one of three coaches to get a pink slip (Denis Savard and Peter Laviolette were the others) and landed a new/old gig as a broadcaster with ESPN, where he can continue to poke pins in his Len Barrie voodoo doll.
There was new life in Chicago, even before they played a Winter Classic at Wrigley Field to rave reviews. Five of the six pre-expansion teams were on pace for 100 points or better, with only the Toronto Maple Leafs unable to participate in the Original Six revival.
read on and as always, many more NHL topics…
from Japers’ Rink,
This morning I noted that “On this date back in 1998, Dale Hunter had three helpers and reached the 1,000 point plateau, becoming the first - and still only - player in NHL history with 1,000 points and 3,000 PIMs in a career.”
Maruk commented that Huntsy may be the only member to ever enter that exclusive club, and while you never say never… he’s probably right. A quick glance at the active Top 100 in points and PIMs makes you realize that it’s unlikely anyone currently playing is going to reach the double milestone, but let’s take a look at just how unlikely.
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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