Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Bring on the Bruins! That's what the Ottawa Senators are saying after yet another victory, this time 2-1 in overtime against the Carolina Hurricanes after a highlight-of-the-year setup by Kyle Turris that let to Mark Stone's game-winner.
Coupled with the Boston Bruins' shootout loss at home -- to Buffalo, no less -- the Senators are now just four points behind the Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, with entering Thursday's gigantic rematch between the Bruins and Senators in Ottawa looming.
It appeared the Sens were done like dinner after last Tuesday's home loss to Boston. Yeah, right. Not when "The Hamburgler" is doing his thing. Goalie Andrew Hammond was sensational again against the Hurricanes, and is now 11-0-1 in his first 12 NHL starts and has given up two or fewer goals in each of those 12 games. Buckle up, folks, the Eastern Conference playoff race is about to get even more interesting.
continue for notes on Sabres, Bruins, Blackhawks, the Metropolitian Division and the Sharks from the ESPN hockey writers...
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Buffalo is the worst team in the league. The Sabres entered the night without a win in their last seven games. They were playing their second game in two nights. Their roster is stuffed with borderline varsity players, ranging from Tim Schaller to Philip Varone to Zac Dalpe.
Buffalo is a team built to lose with the hopes of the ultimate win in June: the opportunity to select Connor McDavid as its reward for bottoming out.
The Bruins were lucky to get 1 point out of the decision.
The numbers say the Bruins deserved a better fate than a 2-1 shootout loss. They led in shot attempts, 95-47. They hammered Anders Lindback with 44 pucks. For the first 40 minutes, the Bruins looked like they were playing keepaway rather than hockey by grabbing a 26-10 shot advantage.
But the Bruins are at a stage where attaboys are not handed out for advantages in shot attempts or zone time. They need points. They only got 1 when 2, given the situation, were required.
The Senators took care of their business by beating the Hurricanes in overtime Tuesday, 2-1. Andrew Hammond tied a league record by launching his NHL career with 12 straight starts with three goals or fewer. This is the goalie the Bruins must stare down on Thursday. With Hammond in net, the Senators could close the gap to 2 points with a regulation win at Canadian Tire Centre.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Tip your cap to the Ottawa Senators, left for dead last Tuesday night after a home loss to the Boston Bruins that seemingly ending their postseason hopes. Somebody forgot to tell them, though.
The pesky Sens responded with wins over the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers and very much remain alive, five points back of the Bruins for the final wild-card spot with a huge Thursday game between the two teams looming this week.
First up, though, is a potential trap game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. The Sens have to remain focused. You better believe Andrew "The Hamburgler" Hammond will be in net again after winning the last three games. The underdog story of Hammond -- an afterthought in the minors before his call-up because of injuries last month -- is at the heart of this late-season rally. Odds are the Senators will fall short, but their run over the past month has been nothing short of spectacular. Do you believe in miracles?
read on for more hockey topics including Custance on the Ducks, Burnside on the Penuins and Strang on the Islanders...
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen,
As a general rule, it's an honour that has been saved for general managers who are retired.
Fortunately, there are exceptions to every rule.
But Senators GM Bryan Murray admitted he was hesitent to accept the invitation to be recognized by his 29 other peers during the NHL general managers meetings Monday night because it's something normally not done.
Accompanied by his wife Geri -- and with his nephew Tim Murray (GM of the Buffalo Sabres) in the room -- Bryan Murray is well aware this could be an emotional night in a lot of ways.
"I am and I'm not (looking forward to it)," said Murray. "I look at it always as the guys who had retired and they were honouring them in that way. It's a nice honour obviously when you are in the league this long when you have the chance to be recognized for longevity, if nothing else, it's good."
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
In the club’s final visit to the Nassau County Coliseum, Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond moved his record to 9-0-1 by shutting down John Tavares and the New York Islanders in a 2-1 victory Friday night.
On the strength of Hammond’s 34-save performance along with goals by Kyle Turris and Matt Puempel on Jaroslav Halak, the Senators moved their record 12-2-2 in their last 16 games and moved to within five points of the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Nope, they won’t go away and they passed the Florida Panthers in the process.
Hammond is only the third goalie since 1938 to allow two or fewer goals in his first 10 NHL starts. He made a huge stop on Anders Lee in the dying minutes going to the net to help the club secure the two points.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
Exactly one month ago, they were down to a prayer and a miracle.
The Senators had more points than just two teams in the entire conference, and they trailed the Boston Bruins by 14 in the wild-card standings.
Impossible ground to make up, almost everyone agreed. Ottawa was going to miss the playoffs in consecutive springs for the first time since 1996....
Then suddenly, the Bruins started to slip. From Feb. 8-20, Claude Julien's squad earned just one point while losing six games in a row.
Almost simultaneously, Dave Cameron's club rallied around The Hamburglar and began to work its way up the ladder.
Since losing to Carolina Feb. 16, the Senators have grabbed 17 of a possible 18 points and now trail the Bruins by five, with a game in hand.
And now there's one month left in the season, and no denying the magnitude of the B's visit to Canadian Tire Centre Tuesday night. "Up to this point, it's definitely our biggest game of the year ... it might end up being one of our biggest games all year," defenceman Mark Borowiecki said after Monday's optional practice.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Hey, it's a nice story the Ottawa Senators jumping back into the playoff fray with a cadre of talented young players. And it's been fun to watch the plucky Florida Panthers continue to nip at the heels of the Boston Bruins. And while it's become an interesting storyline, it's highly unlikely to become anything more than that for the Panthers, because we're talking about the Boston Bruins here.
The Bs are 4-0-1 in their last five and have points in seven of their last 10 games after an emphatic 5-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, a score that flattered Detroit given that Boston was up comfortably 4-1 after the second period.
The Bruins have 17 games left, and if they went a pedestrian 8-8-1 that would give them 93 points and mean that Florida would have to come up with 22 points in their last 16 games (10-4-2?) while Ottawa would need 23 points in their last 18 games (11-6-1?) to jump ahead of the Bruins. In short, unless the Bruins go off the deep end again the notion of a playoff race is really only theoretical, even with a big game looming between Ottawa and Boston on Tuesday.
continue for more from the ESPN hockey bunch including Pierre LeBrun on the Flames...
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson talks about playing through pain and the frustration of not being able to play.
More on Anderson from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Granted, it's been a small sample size, but Andrew Hammond has certainly emerged as a very promising goaltender for the Ottawa Senators organization. Hammond, who was thrust into NHL action for Ottawa last month after injuries to both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, made his seventh consecutive start Wednesday night and led the surging Sens to a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Hammond is now 6-0-1 with a .957 save percentage and a 1.35 goals against average for Ottawa, making for a mighty interesting scenario when both Anderson and Lehner return. Ottawa will have some interesting decisions to make this summer, and Hammond has played well enough to give the Sens something to think about when it comes to the club's future between the pipes.
continue for Burnside on the Sens, Custance on the Rangers, LeBrun on Habs/Ducks and MacDonald on the Bruins...
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Below, watch Cowen on the suspension.
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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