Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
So the owner has said Craig MacTavish isn’t going anywhere.
That’s not exactly the way to quiet the growing Oilers crisis, it’s the underlying problem. He’s not likely going to the NHL playoffs. Neither is his team. Again. Many Oilers fans knew it even before their local heroes fought hard and lost 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place on Thursday night, they don’t like it and they aren’t afraid to say as much during home games, on call-in radio shows and Internet message boards.
So far, they have not put their money where their mouths are rather than into Oilers tickets, and chances are the joint will be sold out again next year, with or without MacTavish behind the bench, with or without a playoff afterglow.
But the growing cacophony of discontent in fandom and the Edmonton media grew rather more hostile and centred on MacTavish Thursday afternoon and it prompted owner Daryl Katz to issue a cryptic, pre-game vote of confidence for his head coach, via text message to the team’s radio rights holder.
Update 2:46pm ET: From Mark Spector at Sportsnet.ca, more on Katz—
Well, the first full season under Katz is in the books in Oilerville, and some disturbing signs are beginning to emerge. Missing the playoffs is the least of the problems in Edmonton, as signs of a dysfunctional Oakland Raiders-like organization creep to the fore.
Moves like signing second-line centres to $7-million deals and backing coaches with cryptic text messages, all from a Howard Hughes-like owner who likes to manage his asset, but leaves others to speak to the fans who sell out his building every night.
The guy on the white horse is famously playing favourites, rumoured to be getting waaaay to close to a select few of his players, and has now left the impression that Craig MacTavish will continue as his head coach only because the two families like to spend time together.
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Since Bernie Parent was minding the net during the Broad Street Bullies era of the mid-seventies, the Flyers haven’t had a sniff of the Stanley Cup and often goaltending was high on the list of explanations.
For the latest act, the team will turn to Martin Biron, who prior to 2007-08 hadn’t even started a playoff game in his nine NHL seasons.
“I’m not a person who gets extremely high or extremely low,” Biron said of the expectations that await. “I try to charge my emotion the right way. I’m not going to go out and say: ‘My confidence is sky high.’ Confidence comes with preparation: The rest falls into place.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with highly-touted free agent forward Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver Pioneers, sources tell Sportsnet.
A strong two-way centre, Bozak has been generating league-wide interest since his freshman year with as many as 25 NHL teams trying to get his name on a contract.
continued and a highlight reel of Bozak can be watched below…
from Mike Prisuta of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
They had made it as far as they had a year ago, in part, because of their character and camaraderie.
And they were floundering through much of this season, in part, because their locker-room dynamic had been altered beyond recognition.
That was the theory, at least, until Feb. 15, when general manager Ray Shero began re-inventing the Penguins via a coaching shake-up.
The process continued with roster moves in advance of the March 4 trade deadline that introduced Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin and Craig Adams into the mix.
And now these new-look Penguins have lost only two games in regulation since mid-February.
All of a sudden, they’re passing chemistry with flying colors.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Bruins Blog at the Boston Globe,
Tim Thomas, in net for Boston’s 50th win of the season last night, yesterday agreed to a multi-year contract that will keep him with the Bruins for at least three more seasons.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the deal will pay the 34-year-old backstop approximately the $5.2 million-a-year earned by New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, age 36, who last month became the game’s all-time winningest goalie.
from Ben Kuzma of The White Towel at the Vancouver Province,
The full-moon phase in the Vancouver sky is still a week away.
It only seemed like it arrived early Thursday because there were too many weird occurrences on full display at GM Place.
Long before Corey Perry scored in the shootout to provide the Anaheim Ducks with a 6-5 shootout win over the Canucks to end Vancouver’s franchise record home-ice win streak at 11 games — a result that still clinched a playoff spot and allowed the locals to retain a share of the Northwest Division lead — there was wackiness.
Good goals. Bad goals. Hard hits. Soft coverage. Three fights. Two great Daniel Sedin scoring chances in overtime. And, oh yeah, one big fish.
continued and watch the game hightlights below…
“I don’t know what happened there. Kind of one of those games where you black out and then next thing you know, people are patting you on the back.
“A great effort by a few of my linemates, setting me up on goals, and a great team effort there at the end to clamp down against a team that never gave up against us.”
-David Backes of the St. Louis Blues after his 4 goal performance last night. More on the Blues win from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
from Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun,
No champagne was uncorked.
No high fives. No celebrations.
The Calgary Flames clinched a playoff spot with last night’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars, but to say the jubilation was subdued would be an understatement….
Considering how much disappointment has surrounded the team lately thanks to the blown double-digit lead on the Vancouver Canucks in the standings and a horrible March performance, you’d think they would enjoy having something to celebrate.
“Oh, we’re pleased about it,” said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. “Going into the game, it wasn’t our focus. Our focus was to continue to get better.
“We have bigger goals ahead of us. With five games remaining, it’s still within our grasp—we’ll continue to work at it—the division title, and we’ll see how it all unfolds.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
There is essentially no remaining margin for error. The eighth-place Rangers have frittered it away. Every team within proximity is streaking and the Blueshirts are faltering.
The finish could be ugly for the Blueshirts, who have four games remaining following last night’s 4-2 defeat here to the surging Hurricanes and just a two-point lead on the Panthers, who will make up their game in hand tonight at home against the Thrashers.
The Hurricanes are 10-1-2 in their last 13. The Penguins are 13-1-2 in their last 16. The Canadiens, who leapfrogged the Blueshirts by defeating the Islanders, are 4-0-1 in their last five. The Panthers have won three in a row. The Rangers, meanwhile, are 2-3-1 in their last six.
continued and watch Tortorella’s post game press conference below…
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
I was getting ready to go into the Wizards locker room when I was told Alex Ovechkin would meet LeBron James in the other direction, and so I switched directions too. Because the Wizards will win more games and have more feel-good moments, but it’s a pretty rare thing to watch two of the greatest athletes in the world meet for the first time.
added 12:21pm, Watch video of the meeting below…
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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