Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
The Islanders held their morning skate at IceWorks in Syosset on Thursday and may make that a permanent part of their game-day routine for the rest of the season. They had previously held all of their morning skates and meetings at Barclays Center, then the players stayed in a Brooklyn hotel during the day.
“It’s obviously been a big change this year going to Brooklyn and we’re trying many different things to see what works best,” John Tavares said. “This allows you to spend more time at home, to feel like you are at home when we are playing at home. And I think mostly that’s what it’s about, to reduce some of the travel.
“It’s our first time through the process this season. We’re working out the kinks and trying to see what works best. At this point in the year I think as a group this is what we feel will be good for it.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
So the Oilers, who are rolling in skilled forwards but, in their heart of hearts, know they need not one but two additional defencemen, won’t be getting the 21-year-old Jones. Admittedly, Jones, the fourth overall pick in 2013, has been frustrated offensively this year in Nashville with just one goal in 40 games, but he is still a top four NHL defenceman today with an upside to be a No. 2, at worst.
Now what? Well, they have to make a full-court press to get Islanders’ Travis Hamonic, who as we all know has asked for a trade because he wants to play closer to his Manitoba roots. If they’re not working on a deal now for the defender who is a No. 2 or at worst No. 3 on every pro scout’s grading system, then they certainly have to be closer to the June draft. If the Isles can’t resign winger Kyle Okposo, then the Islanders will need another high-end winger to replace him, for Hamonic. You’re free to speculate on Jordan Eberle.
If the Preds were looking at Nugent-Hopkins, who may find himself on the wing with Draisaitl when McDavid returns sometime this month to centre another line, the Oilers had the depth at centre to go for Jones. Columbus now has a crater in the middle with Brandon Dubinsky now the No. 1 when he’s never had more than 54 points in an NHL season. But, they’ve been looking for a defenceman for the last few years, and Jones, who played a subordinate role to all-stars Shea Weber and Roman Josi in Nashville, will not do so in Columbus. He wouldn’t have done so here, either.
from Gary Craig of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle,
National Hockey League star Thomas Vanek was worried and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to irate bookies.
He thought his name was being kept from others in the Rochester-area gambling circles where he wagered upwards of millions of dollars and now it appeared some angry debt collectors knew just who he was.
“I thought my name stayed anonymous,” Vanek said in a Feb. 27, 2014 text message to his Rochester bookie, Joseph Ruff. “Guess not.”
Minutes later Ruff texted back, forgoing punctuation: “Hey man I’ve tried my hardest to keep your name out of it 3 guys showed up at my house today And start threatening me infront of my fiancée She of course flips out and is scared.”
The text exchange between Vanek and Ruff, now public in unsealed court records from a local gambling investigation, provides some insight into the significant debts Vanek owed for his gambling. And, the records of text exchanges — messages between February 2014 and April 2014 — also add clarity to the odd extortion plot involving Vanek.
from Daniel Friedman of CBS New York,
I’m not sure why people can’t seem to accept the fact or realize that Okposo is a star. Maybe it’s the toe drags or the past inconsistency that’s stuck in the collective memory of this fan base. Maybe people are trying to justify letting Okposo play elsewhere by pretending he’s not the kind of player any team would want.
Whatever the logic behind it, it’s severely flawed. All he does is produce. He’s meshed very well with John Tavares ever since the two were first united on a line together. He works hard for loose pucks in the corners and skates hard on every shift.
That might not have been good enough for USA Hockey, for some inexplicable reason, but it’s sure as heck good enough for the Islanders.
Normally, when assessing this team’s forward group, the conversation always starts with Tavares. If someone else is having a standout year, he’s the best player not named Tavares in the lineup. But through 33 games this season, Tavares hasn’t been their best forward. He’s been a tick or two behind his normal rate.
The Islanders’ best forward through 33 games has been Okposo, who has both out-produced and outplayed Tavares in just about every facet of the sport to this point.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
Henrik Lundqvist’s stick was in pieces on the ice at Xcel Energy Center, the Rangers’ franchise goalie having broken it over the crossbar in frustration. It lay in shambles like so much of the past month for his Rangers.
There was just 2:17 remaining and Lundqvist had just given up the final goal in a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Thursday night, a loss that stands as a microcosm of how quickly things have snowballed out of control for the Blueshirts.
“I think if we’re not concerned with the way things have been going lately, we have to look at ourselves,” said Lundqvist, whose team is now 3-7-2 in its past 12, with the good games proving to be the aberrations in this deep malaise. “Every player, including myself — how to improve, how to be better to help this team turn it around.”
Below, watch the game highlights...
Hockey Night in Canada kicks off with a few words of advice from Bryan Trottier.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
No doubt it was different here than at the Coliseum, just as it has been different at the Garden since the transformation that robbed the midtown Manhattan building of so much of its soul. But it was Rangers-Islanders in a match that was so much about soul on the ice.
“[The rivalry] definitely adds another element to the game,” Marc Staal said after a steady performance. “You’re emotionally involved before you step on the ice.”
This was a crackling, entertaining game of up-and-down hockey featuring board battles all over the ice in front of a sellout crowd that supplied its own electricity. The obstructed-view seats were filled, even if by a sizeable majority of Ranger fans who had the convenience of the subway at their disposal as opposed to the automobile-dependent islanders forced to make the trek by the LIE/Grand Central/BQE.
On Tuesday, Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault cracked a little joke when asked his thoughts about the rivalry’s move to Brooklyn from the Long Island.
“Are they still called the Islanders?” Vigneault asked rhetorically....
Brooklyn is in the league now, in the NHL, even if the Islanders are identified as “New York” the way the Mets of Queens are identified.
But of course, the Islanders’ identity is still hooked to the Island, which is where they practice, which is where all of their players live. They live in the suburbs, they commute to the city. The franchise’s identification with Brooklyn will bind with more games like this one.
The Islanders beat the Rangers 2-1 in a shootout, watch the game recap below...
Dan Rosen of NHL.com answers questions from the fans...
Do the New York Islanders trade Travis Hamonic this season or in the offseason?
Offseason. Hamonic himself, at least in front of us in the media, has stated that he doesn't want to hamstring GM Garth Snow or the organization, and that he understands if he has to wait until the offseason to get his wish. If that's the case, unless Snow can get equal return for a top-two defenseman with an extraordinarily good contract, there's no reason to rush a trade that could potentially disrupt the chemistry the Islanders are building.
There's no doubt in my mind that Hamonic's trade request became public recently in order to put the squeeze on Snow. That's business. The media gets used in that regard quite often. But I can't imagine Snow feels too squeezed in this case because he knows he has to do what's right for his team even if he wants to do right by Hamonic.
more Q & A
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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