Kukla's Korner Hockey
First a little primer...
Now on to the odds via Bovada,
from Travis Yost of TSN,
Like never before, today's NHL has an insatiable appetite for competent even-strength hockey players. And there are a lot of factors at play here.
For one, the phasing out of enforcers and specialists has created a window of opportunity for a wave of skill players to take on larger roles at both positions. Front offices in Vancouver and Toronto have pointed to successful models in Los Angeles and Chicago - two franchises which have enjoyed reliable production from those bringing up the rear.
And teams are cognizant that first lines and first pairings win a lot of hockey games. But finding the appropriate balance between maximizing their ice-time and minimizing fatigue effects has led to further prioritization of back end guys who can pick up the slack as needed.
There's another factor at play – the creation of more even-strength ice time by the continued decrease in penalties.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
What happens in a hockey-crazed market when a hot start quickly dissipates into a dramatic downward spiral, highlighting a questionable coaching hire in the polarizing John Tortorella?
You have yourself an offseason rife with upheaval, just like the summer of 2014 for the Vancouver Canucks.
The brash and fiery Tortorella was axed after just one season. Longtime general Mike Gillis was dismissed, as well. Star center Ryan Kesler was shipped out of town in a trade to Anaheim.
None of it is surprising, according to former Vancouver Canucks player Geoff Courtnall, who spent five seasons playing for the club from 1990-95.
“Well, I think the owners have high expectations and want to win. They weren’t satisfied with how last season went, so they made some pretty drastic moves," Courtnall told ESPN.com in a recent phone conversation.
ST. LOUIS - The Blues have invited unrestricted free agent forward Paul Bissonnette to a tryout at training camp.
Bissonnette, 29, has played in 202 career NHL games, registering seven goals and 15 assists (22 points). He has a plus-7 rating and 340 career penalty minutes.
Bissonnette spent the past five seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes. He made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2008-09 season.
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
As big a splash as Trouba made starting as a 19-year-old straight out of college, the Rochester, Michigan, product wants more of a role in Year 2.
“As big as I can get it,” a grinning Trouba said, Monday, after a pre-training camp skate at the Iceplex. “I want to play on the power play this year, for sure. That’s something you’ve got to earn. Playing in big spots is something I want to do. That again is something that’s earned, from your teammates and your coaches.”
Trouba says he’ll be searching for consistency this year. Playing a full season, too.
Injuries, including a scary neck injury, limited him to 65 games as a rookie. He still managed 10 goals and 29 points.
“That’s something I really want to focus on, is showing up every night and being the best I can,” he said. “Taking another step on this team to become more of a significant player and play in different spots... I want to have a big impact this year.”
The Jets hope head coach Paul Maurice can help
“Everybody thinks I’m going to turn him into a Selke-winner. People say he had a rotten year last year, but he still scored eight more goals than the nearest guy in the Rocket Richard race. I don’t want to disrespect his gift – the gift of scoring goals, which is one of the hardest things to do.
“I’m not going to get him to be that super-detailed Doug Jarvis type. I just need him to work defensively and have some pride in getting the puck back. That’s the way I’ve talked to him. Get the puck and score, but if we don’t have the puck, I want a plan to get it back quickly so we can go score again.”
-Barry Trotz, head coach of the Washington Capitals on Alex Ovechkin. More from Trotz by Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
As training camp draws near, the heat is getting turned up under unsigned Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen, in his strongest words yet, warned against Johansen not being signed by the start of camp on Thursday, and he questioned the motivation of Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.
“Our success is going to come from being a team, not a bunch of individuals or stars, or whatever,” Kekalainen said during the NHL prospects tournament last night. “To me, it’s huge that you go through training camp together and get ready.
“When training camp starts, that’s it. After that, the focus is on the guys who are there on tryouts or guys who are under contract. That’s it. That will be the only focus.”
Asked whether that meant he would no longer negotiate with Overhardt, Kekalainen paused.
“Draw your own conclusions,” he said.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
The Canadiens’ decision Monday to bestow the A on four players, and no C, has ignited a wee tempest in our nation’s most excitable NHL market, as loyalists of one player or the other ask why their favourite wasn’t the obvious choice.
But what if it makes perfect sense?
What if it’s just the formal acknowledgment of an observation every NHL coach makes: that no good team can have just one leader — that if you aspire to be a contender for the Stanley Cup, you’d better have a half-dozen of them?
Anyway, the mystique of the C may not be entirely based on imagination, but its importance is grossly overestimated.
Case in point: Dustin Brown of the L.A. Kings. Brown is, without doubt, exactly the kind of pain in the ass to play against that coach Darryl Sutter loves, but he is also an accomplished diver and, logic tells us, the person no referee has any interest in hearing a protest from, when a call needs to be argued.
from Jeff Blair of Sportsnet,
The world has changed since Igor Larionov wore the uniform of the Central Red Army’s hockey team. The Cold War has been replaced by something much more nuanced; the questions and answers infinitely more complicated in a time of increased economic interdependency and borderless reality.
Russian hockey players? There’s not much mystery about them, beyond the usual stereotypes still given credibility in some of the darker corners of the game. There were 34 Russian-born NHLers in the league in 2013-2014, and in the June draft, 13 Russian-born players were selected, the most in eight years. They’ve been team captains, colossal over-achievers, spectacular under-achievers, coach-killers … pretty much the same as any other nationality.
Yet another ‘political statement’ made by a Russian-born player – in this case, Semyon Varlamov, who over the weekend posted an Instagram photograph of himself wearing a shirt with a photo of Russian president Vladimir Putin and ‘Crimea Is Ours’ written in Cyrillic before taking it down – reminds us that, for the first time in years, Russian players will be competing against a backdrop of Western animosity directed at their government, this time over the crisis in Ukraine.
Should the NHL be concerned? Should its Russian players? You’d have to look back to the political fallout from the invasion of Afghanistan to find political tension like this – to find a time when European powers and the U.S. were jockeying for strategic positioning with an aggressive then-Soviet Union. Russian teams had been playing exhibition series since the 1972 Summit Series, and after awhile the tenor of the games changed from one of mystery to on-ice bitterness. Through it all, however, nobody worried about Twitter or Instagram. The 140-character universe didn’t exist. Neither did the Kontinental Hockey League, for that matter.
from Kevin McGran of the Breakaway Blog at the Toronto Star,
... But all of the storylines connect at Carlyle.
He wasn't fired at season's end when the team collapsed.
Some believe it was the way they played -- with fire most of the time -- that cost them a playoff spot. Continually outshot. Continually out-possessed, in the new parlance of analytics. Carlyle's teams -- even in Anaheim are horrible at possession games.
Some believe it was simply a matter of goaltending, that if Jonathan Bernier didn't get hurt against the Los Angeles Kings, the Leafs would have sailed into the playoffs, and nobody would have lost their jobs.
Now is Carlyle's chance to prove himself, and do so under less than ideal conditions.
For one thing, it seems evident there'll be more -- oh, what's the word? advice? instruction? meddling? -- from above.
The front office looks like it's going to active, with assistant GM Kyle Dubas communicating the ideas from the team's analytics department. That means Carlyle is going to hear from Dubas about line changes, line combinations and who'd play best with Phil Kessel.
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