Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen was in the midst of his first press gathering in Philadelphia since the Philadelphia Flyers traded him Feb. 27.
After eight years as a member of the Flyers, Timonen was asked how the crowd would react for his return to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
Timonen, the stoic 40-year-old Finn, took several beats to gather himself as the memories of the past washed over him.
"I only have good memories here," he finally said. "I'm sure it's going to be good. All the things that happened here. ... I'm happy to be here."
"That guy is such a great human being off the ice, on the ice," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "It's a really good example for me. I was 21, 22 when I got here. He showed me the way, how to be a better person and how to be a better hockey player. That guy's a pro every single way. ... I'm very happy for him that he's got a chance to battle for a Stanley Cup because he really deserves it."
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So much time has been spent this season talking about the treasures that await the league's last-place team that you start to think in rainbow terms.
A handful of truly awful teams following that brightly colored arc down, down, down the standings with the hope that what lies at the bottom, the very bottom, is a pot of gold and a ticket up.
Certainly that's how great the promise of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel is, with the duo poised to go first and second in June's draft in South Florida.
But among those teams lurching their way to the bottom as the season heads into its final two weeks is a team that is living proof that finding the "treasure" at the end of the arc guarantees nothing.
The Edmonton Oilers are once again among the worst teams in the league, despite a stretch dating back to 2009 that saw them pick first overall in the draft three times in a row (2010-12, only the second time in the history of the draft that happened), and pick third, seventh and 10th overall since then.
The Oilers have defied the odds by failing to turn such a treasure trove of picks into anything remotely resembling a playoff team, let alone a championship contender.
"By every measure, they seem to be failing," said longtime NHL executive Frank Provenzano, also a frequent contributor to ESPN's hockey coverage. "You shouldn't be picking that high and be that bad.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The July 1 unrestricted free agent player pool this year leaves you quite cold, but luckily there should be action behind the bench that livens up the NHL offseason like rarely before.
This has the potential to be, quite frankly, one of the most intriguing and dramatic offseasons in the NHL coaching world in quite some time....
The question is whether Babcock has seen enough of the impressive next-generation core of the Red Wings this season and whether that’s enough to convince him to stay, albeit for less money than what he could make in a place like Toronto. Or Philadelphia? Or Buffalo? Or elsewhere?
The Wings will make a very good offer. His decision, either way, will have a domino effect.
The Boston Bruins are sitting out of a playoff spot as we write this and that can’t be good for head coach Claude Julien, at least if you go by the veiled hints made this season by the owner’s son Charlie Jacobs and team president Cam Neely. It seems crazy to me that Julien, one of the game’s most respected coaches and the guy who guided the Bruins to 2011 glory, could be fired. But that’s the feeling you get from the vibes coming out of Boston. And if he hits the market, holy moly, that’s another huge fish.
Media in Philadelphia over the past few days have deliberated at Craig Berube’s future as coach of the Philadelphia Flyers and speculated that he might be in danger of being fired. General manager Ron Hextall, after all, hasn’t had the chance to hire his own coach yet. The Flyers’ job would be a plum opening for sure, the kind of big-market job most coaches salivate over.
Which brings us to Toronto, of course, where the Maple Leafs will need a new head coach. Whether it’s Babcock or potentially McLellan or whomever, it’s doubtful it won’t be a marquis name. But the next Leafs coach also will know when he signs on the dotted line that there’s a long-term rebuild that he’s going to have to weather.
Does Dave Tippett stay with the Arizona Coyotes? He’s under contract for three more seasons and loves it in the Phoenix area where he’s built a home, but I don’t think he’s interested in a long, long rebuild.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Winnipeg has passed the Avalanche because the Jets have size and physicality to go with their skill players, even if MacKinnon, Landeskog, Duchene likely have a higher offensive pedigree than Winnipeg’s stars up front.
It’s not all about scoring. As Colorado learned this season, sometimes it’s about surviving with whatever lineup is left come game time. And just because you win one season, it doesn’t guarantee a damned thing next October.
“We all fall in it. The coaching staff and the players,” Roy said. “A lot of things came pretty fast. You have a tendency to think it’s going to be easier. Then you’re not as sharp when you come to camp. Then you start behind.
“I think the thing that I learned the most is, you always have to adapt to you group,” said Roy. “You have to deal with this. You have to learn to adapt to your team.”
Lesson learned. Too late, mind you, but with this lineup, the Avs will be back.
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
The sight of Ryan Miller out early Tuesday in full equipment and working with goaltending coach Rollie Melanson was certainly encouraging — especially with the stopper going into the butterfly and pushing off to replicate reactions he would normally display in a game. However, it was just one of the obstacles Miller is facing before he’s ready to be battle tested after suffering a knee strain Feb. 22.
I asked former Canucks goaltender and current Sportsnet analyst Corey Hirsch what we should read into Miller skating and working on his movements. He suggested there is the initial testing of that inside knee ligament to see if Miller is enduring any pain and the process can also be a means to strengthen the ailment. If a defenceman or a forward suffers a similar injury, the rehab process can include wearing a brace upon returning to league play. Not goalies. The next step for Miller will be to practise with his club and that won’t occur until the second week of April because it’s doubtful he would travel on the upcoming four-game road trip with just one practice day scheduled.
Everybody has a theory about when Miller might be ready for prime time. The injury was significant because of the position he plays, putting tremendous strain on the knees through contact and groins through stretching and straining to make saves. And contact is going to be a huge issue because there’s going to be a tendency to be tentative and back up initially instead of playing aggressively.
more plus other Vancouver topics...
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
-- It is time to get boring.
The Ducks’ penchant for one-goal games and comebacks might make them the entertaining bunch but the capacity for great theater doesn’t bring home a Stanley Cup. Strict, unyielding play (here’s looking at you, defending champion Kings), strong goaltending and timely scoring is the recipe that usually makes for a long playoff run.
In other words, they’ve got to win 2-1 or 3-2 games. Or 1-0. The Ducks have to get serious about playing a disciplined brand of hockey, not in the sense of staying completely away from the penalty box but sticking to their system, supporting each other on the ice and playing a simple, if unglamorous game.
They’re not doing that right now. An undermanned lottery-bound Columbus team repeatedly got prime scoring chances in the second period and cashed them in, turning around a 2-1 deficit after the first 20 minutes. And this came after the 7-2 shellacking by the Rangers on Sunday.
“I think that’s when it comes to the playoffs, when you play against good teams, it’s really who makes more mistakes and who’s going to win from that,” winger Andrew Cogliano said. “We’re beating ourselves. It’s pretty obvious what we’re doing.”
TORONTO (March 25, 2015) – Jim Gregory, Vice-Chair of the Hockey Hall of Fame, announced today that one of hockey’s most renowned team leaders, Lanny McDonald, will become the next Chair of the Board effective July 1, 2015. This appointment to fill the vacancy left by the untimely passing of Pat Quinn on November 23, 2014, was confirmed at the Board of Directors meeting held this morning in Toronto with the effective date to occur following McDonald’s final meeting as a member of the Selection Committee in June.
CROWDED AT THE TOP
The Montreal Canadiens (46-20-8, 100 points) secured a point on Tuesday with an overtime loss to the Nashville Predators to become the first team to reach the 100-point plateau this season. In the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks all sit one back of the Canadiens with 99 points. Overall, the top 12 teams in the League are separated by just 10 points.
LIGHTNING WIN FOURTH STRAIGHT, MATCH FRANCHISE RECORD
Leading 2-0 before the eight-minute mark, the Lightning surrendered three goals in a span of 1:58 but scored twice in the final frame, including Ryan Callahan’s winning tally with 2:28 on the clock, to pick up their fourth straight victory.
added 10:16am, Another view of the hit below...
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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