Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
The question I’ve heard most often over the past month has been this one: “Are the Edmonton Oilers for real?”
And my standard answer was, “They’ve got 10 of 15 games in November on the road, against a lot of good teams. Ask me on December 1st.”
Well, after a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday — their third straight defeat — Edmonton’s record over its past eight games falls to 2-5-1. They awake Monday morning in first place in the Pacific, but nobody around this organization is kidding themselves that they are an elite NHL club right now.
“That confidence and swagger that we had in the first eight games kinda got away from us. We haven’t had it in the last eight games,” said Milan Lucic, the big left-winger who came to Edmonton to play alongside Connor McDavid, but was replaced there by Pat Maroon a few games ago.
Game highlights of the Edmonton loss to the Rangers is below...
from Joe McDonald of ESPN,
The New York Rangers are pumping in goals at an incredible pace. As a result, the Rangers lead the league with a total of 55 goals in the first 13 games and are atop the Metropolitan Division at 10-3-0.
They have scored five or more goals in eight of their 13 games, including the last five. The Rangers also lead the league in goals per game with 4.23.
The best part is the scoring is being generated throughout the lineup. Over the last five games, the line of Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller has combined for 23 points (12 goals and 11 assists). There was a point last season when coach Alain Vigneault had Hayes sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch because he wasn't being productive. It served as a wakeup call and Hayes used that moment as motivation during the offseason.
continued plus notes on the Blackhawks and Canadiens...
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
There wasn’t much support anywhere on the ice Tuesday when it came to the Blues, who are now 2-2-1 in their five games away from Scottrade Center this season. They will be in Dallas on Thursday.
Where the fault rested for Tuesday’s futility in New York depended on whom you asked. The players put it on themselves, but the coach credited the Rangers.
“It’s what we do in here,” Blues forward Paul Stastny said. “I think from top to bottom, we weren’t ready to play. Our leaders, my line, we didn’t play together. When we play together, we’re supporting the puck, we’re all playing as a unit of five. When we’re not, one guy is in no-man’s land, the other guy wants the puck, the other guy doesn’t want the puck, and you can’t do that in this league.”
Especially against the Rangers, who were the sole reason for Tuesday’s lopsided outcome according to Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
“We weren’t on a different map, we played somebody on the right map,” Hitchcock said. “That’s a hell of a team and they gave us a hell of a lesson. They’re playing great team hockey and they just expose any weakness you have. They’ve done it to us and a few teams now. Real eye-opener for me.”
Game highlights are below...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
He is the sixth senior member of the team in terms of continuous service, but Rick Nash will tell you that he wasn’t so sure he would make it back to New York for his fifth season as a Ranger.
“No doubt there was concern,” Nash told The Post after his breakaway goal at 4:45 of the second period opened the scoring to key a 6-1 rout of the Lightning at the Garden on Sunday. “I love the Rangers, my wife and I love New York, and there’s no place else that I want to play, but I understand the business side of it.
“And I know that if you’re an expensive player, you have to perform. If you don’t, you could be moved. I knew that. And I appreciate the fact that they didn’t trade me and had the confidence to bring me back.”
The cap hit is $7.8 million. Playoff disappointments aside, Nash was the club’s best forward his first years after coming to Broadway from Columbus in the July 2012 blockbuster deal, getting 42 goals in the Presidents’ Trophy-winning 2014-15 season.
“Sure you’re happy with the first half (of the game), but certainly not with the outcome. We’re here to win games, not pat ourselves on the back when we think we deserve it. I would have liked to see us play a whole game like that.
“We played well right from the get-go, I think the first half of the game was pretty good. But you can’t win hockey games with the number of penalties we were given. Warranted or not, you’re not going to win when you’re taking (six) in a row. I disagree with a lot of those calls, but anyway . . .
“It’s tough to win in this league. And if we’re going to be taking that many penalties, it’s going to be tough for us to win. We need every break we can get here with this hockey club. We had to stay out of the box to give ourselves a chance. We didn’t do that.”
-Claude Julien, head coach of the Boston Bruins after the Bruins lost 5-2 to the Rangers. Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald has more on the game.
Catch the game highlights below...
via Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
Girardi was the recipient of a monster hit from Boston forward David Pastrnak at 10:55 of the second period, when the Blueshirts were in the middle of their torrid comeback. As Girardi reached up to play the puck with his hand at the center line, Pastrnak’s shoulder drove right into his chin.
There was a minor penalty assessed for an illegal check to the head, and after going through concussion protocol in the locker room, Girardi returned with no ill effects.
“I don’t really know it makes contact with my face at first, but it is what it is, I’m kind of vulnerable,” Girardi said. “He’s going to try to make a hit. He just hit me in the front of the face, so it wasn’t like it was the side-of-the-head hit or something. As soon as I got up, I was fine.”
Josh Jooris suffered a separated shoulder in the game too, a 5-2 win over the Bruins.
from Steve Zipay of Newsday,
More than 800 regular-season and playoff games and a locker full of records and endorsements later, Lundqvist has witnessed the game’s latest transformation from a net-front perch.
“When I entered the league [in 2005-06], it was still big and strong [players],” he said. “In the last three, four years, there’s a lot more shorter players. It’s about skating, it’s about speed, it’s about balance and skill. The rules changes helped, there’s a lot less holding, grabbing, hooking [allowed]. So it’s a faster game for sure, a lot of odd-man rushes, that’s really where you get hurt, but that’s also where you cash in.”
The new generation — think of the 24-and-under Team North America squad in the World Cup and dazzling players such as Vladimir Tarasenko and rookie Patrick Laine — has made goaltending tougher.
“It’s more challenging,” said Lundqvist, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12. “They can shoot better, and in one-on-one situations against top players, they can pick the corners. You need to be square, you need to read the situation quicker. It’s challenging, but fun.”
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