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Questions Facing The New York Rangers

from Tal Pinchevsky of NHL.com,

How will the Rangers supplement the forward depth they lost? -- In his first year as Rangers coach, Alain Vigneault rolled all four lines and got consistent scoring from the top three units. He'll be challenged to do that again this season.

New York got key plays from Richards and Pouliot, who signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers. A fourth line considered among the NHL's best was also dismantled when Brian Boyle signed with the Lightning and Dorsett was traded.

The Rangers hope free-agent additions Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, Chris Mueller and Matthew Lombardi, and some of their young talent, can help maintain that forward depth.

Can Rick Nash return to elite form? -- New York's success drew attention away from a disappointing season for its highest-paid skater.

Nash led the Rangers in goals last season, but 26 goals and 39 points in 65 games aren't necessarily numbers befitting a star player responsible for a $7.8-million cap charge in each of the next four seasons. Nash's production dropped precipitously during the postseason, when he scored three goals in 25 games.

With St. Louis and Stepan potentially serving as linemates, Nash will be expected to recapture the form that saw him score 38 or more goals three times with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

more

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Workout

Yes, it is that time of year...

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Afternoon Line

I’ve gotten to know him pretty well. He lives pretty much in the town right next to me, and we’ve been skating together this summer. I started to get to know him heading into the Olympics, and then I got to know him pretty well there. He’s a good guy and he’s going to be a great teammate. He competes like crazy. The fans are going to love him and his work ethic. Talking to him, he’s really looking forward to a fresh start in Anaheim. It’s going to be great.

-Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks on new teammate Ryan Kesler.  More from Fowler in a Q & A by Kyle Shoraha of the Ducks' website.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+fowler, ryan+kesler

More Early August Hockey Talk

Craig Custance of ESPN just completed an online chat...

Who is the (very) early favorite in the East? Does NY stay at the top? Does Boston bounce back? TB, MON, PIT, PHL?

Craig Custance  My early favorite is Boston. I'm curious to see how Peter Chiarelli gets under the cap. He'll have to move a d-man, but I love how that team is constructed. I like Tampa Bay. I think it's going to be really hard for New York to duplicate last year's success, especially considering how their depth took a hit this off-season.

Craig, great to have NHL chat! What is the goalie situation in Pittsburgh? With MAF playing great in the regular season, but horrible in the playoffs, who do you see the Pens signing to be their #1 this upcoming season? Also, do you think the Pens can land a solid D player, with Orpick gone? Thanks! BRING ON OCTOBER!

Craig Custance  Great to be chatting Jdub! This is a big year for Marc-Andre Fleury. He has a new regime to convince he's the answer in Pittsburgh. The one thing you know about him is that he has the unwavering support of that dressing room. He's loved in that room. But you're right, nobody is going to be overly impressed with a strong regular season unless it's followed by a playoff run. The Ehrhoff signing by Jim Rutherford was outstanding and addresses the defense. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if he gets a long-term deal before the season ends.

I believe this is the final year of Bobby Ryan's contract - do you think the Sens will try to extend him or trade him this season?

Craig Custance  You are correct. This is Bobby Ryan's final season. They may try to extend him but if you're Bobby Ryan, what's your motivation to sign on long term in Ottawa? That's a budget team and if I'm him, I'm playing this thing out to free agency. And if that's the case and the Sens are out of the playoff hunt, Ryan will be one of the big pieces available at the trade deadline.

more

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John Tavares Ready For Training Camp

from Cory Wright of the Islanders website,

For a born winner and fierce competitor like John Tavares, a six-month summer break is just too long.

Sure, the weather’s nice and having some downtime with friends and family is great, but the Islanders captain would rather work through June.

“While the summer’s been good for other reasons, it’s been too long and I want to change that this coming season,” Tavares said. “It’s probably the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without playing. I’m looking forward to training camp and I want to finish off the summer strong and come into the year motivated with a lot to prove.”

Tavares sustained a season-ending knee injury while playing for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in February. He played his last NHL game on Feb. 8.

Tavares missed the Islanders final 22 games, but fortunately the injury didn’t require surgery and Tavares began rehabbing immediately following his return to Long Island. He progressed through his off-ice therapy and was cleared for full skating activity in mid-May, when he began practicing with the OHL’s London Knights....

“It’s been a really good summer from a training aspect,” Tavares said. “It’s nice to focus on what I really need to work on, what I need to get better at and to get in the best shape I can for the season.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: john+tavares

Finding The Numbers Guy

I RT'd this earlier today, but in case you don't follow KK on Twitter...

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

Vic Ferrari. If you're old enough to remember the late, brilliant Andy Kaufman, you'll know the name. Vic Ferrari was one of his characters on the sitcom, Taxi (ask your parents).

This is a different Vic Ferrari, one of the cornerstone thinkers of NHL analytics. When I began learning about this wild and wacky world, the best advice given was, "Go to timeonice.com, figure out how to use it and go from there."

That's his website and a great place to start. There's no copy, but head-to-head shift charts, shot totals, breakdowns of what players took faceoffs in what zones. When first trying to differentiate the Corsis from the corners, it was an invaluable resource.

continued

Filed in: Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: tim+barnes

Stadium Series Game Will Feature Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

from NHL.com,

Outdoor hockey is returning to California for a second straight season, the National Hockey League announced Wednesday. This season's game features two teams which have become quite familiar with each other in recent years.

The San Jose Sharks will be the home team against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Feb. 21, 2015 at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) as part of the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The game will be broadcast by NBCSN and Hockey Night in Canada.

No two teams in the NHL have played against each other more than the Sharks and Kings have since the start of the 2010-11 season. They have played 41 games, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the past three seasons, highlighted by seven-game series in each of the past two postseasons.

continued

added 12:04pm, NHL release below plus logo for the game...

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Why Was Aaron Ekblad Playing In A WJC Exhibition Game?

from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,

So I’m not surprised that Florida Panthers prospect Aaron Ekblad wanted to play at Canada’s world junior exhibition camp in Quebec. But why would the Panthers allow the No. 1 overall pick to play in the mini-tournament against the Czechs and Russians?

In speaking with execs from other teams (attempts to reach the Panthers were unsuccessful), they always like having their top prospects put in situations where they can develop, so it’s not crazy that Florida would want their most prominent draft pick to take on a leadership role in the summer and get some reps as he prepares for his first NHL training camp. Unfortunately, injuries are an unpredictable part of the game.

And after seeing their prized prospect get hurt Tuesday night on a hit from Czech defenseman Lukas Klok, the Panthers must be feeling like they rolled snake eyes.

For me, the question is this: What are the odds Ekblad actually plays for Canada at the world juniors this year? Florida may have some nice young defensemen in the pipeline, but there’s no reason to believe Ekblad can’t find a place in the team’s top six this fall. He has already played three years in the Ontario League with Barrie and his pedigree practically dictates that he will jump straight to the NHL.

more including a gif of the hit...

added 12:53pm,

SUNRISE, Fla. – As announced earlier today by Team Canada, D Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion during an exhibition game last night. We have been in communication with Team Canada and have mutually agreed to hold Aaron out for the remainder of the summer development camp, as a precautionary measure. We will closely monitor Aaron’s health for the remainder of the off-season and expect him to be ready for our rookie camp in mid-September.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Florida Panthers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ekblad

Do You Believe In The Make-Up Call?

from Paul Stewart at the Huffington Post,

As with all referees and officiating supervisors who have ever worked in this game, I have grown all-too-familiar over the years with the following scenario: A controversial call goes against Team A. Perhaps it was the right call, perhaps not. Shortly thereafter, there is another disputed call. This one goes in favor of Team A. Maybe it was the right call, maybe it wasn't.

Either which way, there is a Pavlovian response from Team B: "Make-up call!"

I'm not going to deny that some officials feel compelled at times to try to "even things out." However, it does not happen nearly as often or as automatically as many people seem to think.

There are a lot of things that happen on the ice that people in the stands and watching on television are not privy to see or hear. For instance, there were many times in my career where I'd cut a player a break on a borderline penalty with a warning that the next time he did it, he was going to sit. If he ignored the warning, I was true to my word. He sat.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Morning Line

“It’s an exciting time right now. With the changes we’ve made, the additions we made with our staff and players, it’s exciting. I think all of us returning – I can’t speak for everyone else – but for myself it’s pretty easy to find the extra motivation to train and stuff, because of the excitement to get back on the ice with the group we have and the potential we have as a group already. It’s exciting. Motivation is easy when you have a group like that.”

-Braden Holtby, goaltender for the Washington Capitals.  More on Holtby from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: braden+holtby

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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.

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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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