Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
The most heated debate surrounding NHL awards this season has centered on defence, where challengers try to unseat two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.
Karlsson’s case is as strong as it’s ever been, which makes the task all the more daunting. With 64 assists, Karlsson is three ahead of San Jose centre Joe Thornton, with two games remaining. Should Karlsson hold on to that lead, he would be the first defenceman to lead the league in assists since Bobby Orr, in 1974-75, when he was tied with Bobby Clarke, or 1973-1974, when he had the most assists outright.
This gives Karlsson 80 points, tying Nicklas Lidstrom for the most points among defenceman in the past 20 years. Brian Leetch (85) and Ray Bourque (82), had more, both in 1995-1996. So, it should be easily established that this is a special offensive season.
As always, Karlsson is a positive possession driver, and this is remarkable because the Senators struggle without him on the ice. That leads Karlsson to elite relative possession numbers.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The Senators are taking a long, hard look at themselves and absolutely everybody is under the microscope with changes on the horizon.
Just over a week after owner Eugene Melnyk indicated there would be “key changes” with the club missing the playoffs, GM Bryan Murray told reporters Friday afternoon the evaluation of the Senators has been under way for a month and it won’t take long before decisions are made.
Calling this season “disappointing” after the Senators made the playoffs last spring, Murray indicated he’s looking at every aspect of the team — including the performance of coach Dave Cameron and his staff along with the players.
Murray said there’s always changes at the end of every season but didn’t specify what areas those might come and that’s what the club is studying.
No penalty for Byfuglien on the Stone hit.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Deciding between Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson is like sitting in a great restaurant and trying to make a choice between the steak and the specialty, the catch of the day. There’s no real wrong decision here: What it comes down to, really, is preference for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman.
The easy votes and the votes too often made by the less educated will go to Karlsson, which is more a knock on the voters than it is on the Ottawa defenceman. Too often in recent years, the Norris has gone to the defenceman with the most points. That worked well when Bobby Orr was in a class by himself, but not so well when you consider Zdeno Chara has won the award the same number of times P.K. Subban has.
Not all defenceman are created equal. Rarely do two play the same kind of game, and too often much of what they do on the ice can’t be measured with any kind of statistics.
Karlsson is a brilliant offensive player on a particularly weak defensive team. He scores a lot and gets scored on a lot. Doughty’s numbers are nowhere near Karlsson’s, except he doesn’t get scored on often - only 48 times this season, and unlike Karlsson he plays significant penalty- kill minutes, which means he plays in all situations. The Los Angeles Kings are among the best teams in the NHL in both goals allowed and shots allowed (Ottawa is last in NHL in goals allowed and shots allowed).
My ballot will have Doughty ahead of Karlsson, and it’s been that way almost every season. The Senators are 2nd worst in penalty killing in the NHL and don’t employ Karlsson to try and change that. That’s a short synopsis of why I’ll take Doughty over Karlsson, this year and most years.
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from Dave Hodge of TSN,
The Ottawa Senators’ season hasn’t really been as bad as owner Eugene Melnyk made it seem with yesterday’s tirade, but Melnyk is fully justified to be critical, and to promise that things will be different next season, because, as he says, they must be different.
He declares it essential that his cash-strapped Sens make the playoffs. Ottawa fans would agree, and they should like the fact that Melnyk isn’t about to sit still for what they, and he witnessed this season.
There was just one problem with how Melnyk reacted yesterday. He made himself look foolish by labelling coach Dave Cameron’s goaltending decision in this season’s home opener “stupid”. He didn’t like the fact rookie Matt O’Connor made his NHL debut and lost in front of the home fans, never mind that first-stringer Craig Anderson had played the night before.
How mad must Melnyk have been at the time to use that example, from the third game of the season in October, to criticize his coach prior to the 74th game in March? It’s like a father telling his daughter not to marry her long-time boyfriend because the kid showed up for their very first date wearing green pants.
Melnyk had a chance to look good yesterday. Instead, it’s “thumbs down” to the Ottawa owner, for choosing words less wisely than Dave Cameron picks starting goalies. Or, more stupidly, I guess.
Hodge has a look at the Philadelphia Flyers too...
The news conference will be held here to gather historical items for 25th anniversary. #Sens
Eugene Melnyk says the whole organization is under the microscope.
"Nobody is safe," says Melnyk. #Sens. Spoke of changes at every level.
Asked if he needed to spend more, Melnyk: "That's baloney. Absolute baloney. We throw $68 million U.S. at this. That's our payroll."
Melnyk also criticized the decision to have Matt O'Connor start the home opener. "What was that about? And the guy gets clobbered."
Buffalo Sabres head coach Dany Bylsma thought this hit by Dion Phaneuf was worth a major.
Below is the Buffalo broadcast point of view...
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Asked if he was bothered by the fact he has to bench his leading goal scorer in Game 66 of the regular season with the club fighting for its playoff life, Cameron said that’s up to the players.
“They determine it. I don’t. Their play determines their ice time,” Cameron said.
The coach repeated it’s about doing what’s best to have success and Hoffman made a couple of ugly giveaways during a second-period power play.
“It’s about winning the game. It’s as simple as that,” Cameron added. “Every decision we make from the time we show up here early in the morning until we finish the game, it’s all about trying to do what’s right.”
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
So, are the Senators looking forward to the latest installment of the Battle of Ontario?
“What Battle of Ontario?” asked winger Chris Neil on Friday.
No, the rivalry isn’t dead, but it’s certainly on life support with no playoff series between the two teams since 2004 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the middle of a massive rebuild that included sending captain Dion Phaneuf to the Senators in a nine-player deal last month.
“We’ve got more of a battle against Montreal,” said Neil. “Obviously the games are big when we go against (Toronto) but our rivalry, playing Montreal the last couple of years in the playoffs, has evolved into more of a battle than the Battle of Ontario.”
Asked if it’s no longer alive, Neil added: “I don’t think so. It will eventually come back. The teams are still close. I think it’s just the way the cards have unfolded the past couple of years for Toronto.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Q: How are you doing? You look great.
A: I went from 230 to 180 and back to 195 pounds almost. I’m doing everything I can. I’m doing integrative therapy as well. I’m doing a drug called mistletoe, a self-inject three times a week. I do a variety of pills that supposedly offset the side-effects of chemotherapy, which I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t been nauseous very often. I don’t have a lot of the side effects I know other people have. I talk to so many people now; some of them don’t have a good day over the two-week span. I’ve been able to cope with that part very well.
Q: Have you any idea how much more time you have? You said two- to five years and it’s closing in on two.
A: Everything is stable. I’m hoping it stays stable, and then it can go longer. It can go a long time. That’s the fight I’m in. I told the oncologist at the time, ‘I’ll show you. I’m going to do more than that.’
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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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