Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Charlie Gillis of Macleans,
Q: There’s no denying the stakes, though. If Canada wins gold, you’re a genius. If the team falls anywhere short of gold, it’s considered some sort of failure.
A: That’s certainly the reality of it, and the way it goes in a short tournament. I don’t think that’s necessarily right. Whether somebody is really competent—whether he has a good hockey mind, whether he’s a good person to lead a hockey club—is something determined over a long period of time, not one tournament. If we do well, it’s certainly not because I’m any smarter than anybody else. It’ll be because we have good players and good coaches.
Q: Is that the explanation for your decision to exclude Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, who is currently the NHL’s top-scoring defenceman?
A: Mike Green’s a hell of a hockey player, a tremendous talent. I just think the defence we put together can generate offence almost to the same level as Mike, and yet be stronger in other areas. We just thought the seven that we chose are a better fit for us. I don’t want to go on at length criticizing Mike Green, but there are parts of his game that we’d need to see improved upon before he’s ready to play in the Olympics….
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province via the Times-Colonist,
When last the National Hockey League saw Ziggy Palffy he had two shoulders that were in rough shape.
The rehab basically took him out of commission in 2006, given nobody wanted to sign him after the six months he was on the shelf. And at that point in his career, after being one of the game’s most exciting goal scorers, he didn’t want to play for a paltry $1 million US, saying yesterday: “I can do that in Slovakia.”
So he did. And after playing in the ‘06 world championship he retired from the national team, not so much because of any great hassle with the management or coaching staff, but rather to move out of the way to let the younger players take over.
“But there aren’t any younger guys coming,” he said, worried a little about the state of hockey in his country. “They don’t want to work. They all want to come over here and play junior and I think it’s much better for them to stay home, play in the senior league, play in Russia and in Sweden and get better before they try over here.
“It’s too tough to try to make it over here so young and these guys don’t realize it. I tell them when I can but it doesn’t work out for most of them and we’re not developing younger guys because of that.”
from Mark Whicker of Ducks Blog,
David McNab, the Ducks senior vice president of hockey operations, is a proud American who expects to be even prouder when they hand out the U.S. men’s hockey medals.
“I think the Americans are going to win,” McNab said. “And you can quote me on that.”
McNab points to (A) the capricious nature of the Olympic tournament and (B) his belief that the Americans are underrated.
Are you like me and a bit worried about an injury during the Olympics?
Check out my NHL.com blog today and let me know how you feel.
from Will Harvie of The Press (New Zealand),
Few Kiwis know much about ice hockey. Will Harvie explains what to watch for at the Winter Olympics.
The skill of watching ice hockey on television is knowing where the puck is probably going, not focusing on where it is at any given moment.
For example, there are times in every hockey game when the puck skitters into a corner or behind the net and players on opposing teams converge to dispute possession. Offensive players want to pass the puck to a team-mate so he can take a shot on goal; defensive players want to get the puck out of the danger area.
from the IIHF,
With five days left as of Monday to the opening faceoff of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, the IIHF released the pre-Olympic World Ranking Report.
Russia, which has won two consecutive IIHF World Championship gold medals, tops the men’s pre-Olympic ranking report with 2925 points ahead of Canada (2905 points) and Sweden (2795).
added 8:49am, Also from the IIHF,
It’s one of the most sought-after souvenirs from the Olympic Winter Games – and virtually impossible to get. The official Olympic ice hockey puck.
Weighing in at six ounces, one inch thick and three inches in diameter, this tiny piece of vulcanized rubber is every hockey collector’s fantasy keepsake. Every year it is a challenge to create a puck that incorporates all of the Olympic values, while keeping the puck functional. Too much white, and you have unhappy players, too boring, and you have unhappy fans.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
* Team Canada’s Martin Brodeur of the Devils is just 2-3 the past two weeks, including the loss to Lundqvist’s Rangers on Saturday.
* Prior to leading his Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 shootout win in Boston on Saturday, Canada’s Roberto Luongo was pulled after allowing three first-period goals to the Maple Leafs on Jan. 30, then dropped a 3-2 decision to the Habs in his hometown of Montreal on Feb. 2.
* The third Canadian goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins, dropped a pair of games over the weekend. After being yanked in a 5-3 defeat to the Canadiens on Saturday, he was on the losing end of a 5-4 overtime decision to the high-flying Capitals on Sunday.
* Team USA’s Ryan Miller, the backbone of the Buffalo Sabres, is just 2-5 in his past seven appearances and is mired in a three-game losing streak.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
A great believer in leaving no stone unturned in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Mike Babcock has spent the past six months touching base with his various predecessors as coach of Canada’s men’s hockey team.
When Babcock approached Pat Quinn, who was at the helm in both 2002 and 2006, he wondered specifically about scrutiny and expectation. Surprisingly, Quinn told Babcock the most pressure he ever felt coaching internationally came in Ottawa just more than a year ago, when he was behind the bench for the 2009 world junior team in Canada.
To Babcock, the operative words were the last two - in Canada. Coaching a team in Canada will heighten every aspect of the experience, which can be both a good and a bad thing.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Can Team Canada find a way to sneak Steven Stamkos on to the Olympic roster, if only to play the power play? He leads all NHL players with 13 power-play goals.
• With the Sedin brothers leading hockey’s dominant line, Henrik Lundqvist in goal, the steady influence of Niklas Lidstrom on defence and Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg getting healthy at the right time, why aren’t more people considering Sweden a real threat for hockey gold in Vancouver?
• Don Waddell said he wanted a top-six forward and a top-four defenceman and he came away with Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya? And you wonder why the Thrashers have never won a playoff round.
a few more hockey notes…
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Members of Sweden’s Olympic hockey team politely insist that even though they have 13 holdovers from the squad that won gold at Turin and will supplement that group with a crop of brilliant youngsters, they’re hardly a sure shot to repeat as champions in Vancouver.
“I don’t know if we’ll be considered the favorite no matter what we do,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I think Canada and Russia are the ones that people are talking about the most.”...
Team captain Nicklas Lidstrom, the imperturbable defenseman who has been a pillar of strength for the Red Wings and Team Sweden, dismissed the notion that the Tre Kronor—so named because of the three crowns on the front of the team’s jerseys—will be overconfident when the tournament begins Feb. 16.
“I think we like our situation that we’re not one of the main favorites. I think that suits us well,” said Lidstrom, one of nine Swedes and only 22 players ever whose resume includes a title at the Olympics, the world championships and the Stanley Cup finals.
“Even though we’re going to be the defending Olympic champs, I think the pressure will still be on the top two teams, Russia and Canada.”
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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