Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It is seven straight now without a goal for Nash, still one shy of 40 and now third in the league behind Alex Ovechkin’s 45 and Steven Stamkos’ 40. And if this slump — one goal in the past 10 and two in the past 14 — were almost inevitable, it raises uncomfortable questions at this time of year because of what happened last year (and the year before) in the playoffs.
It is the elephant in the room for the Blueshirts and for Nash, who is always diligent in all three zones, who always approaches matters with the utmost preparation and professionalism. But the record is indelible, at least until No. 61 can erase it, and that’s the record that shows Nash with three goals in the playoffs last year, all against Montreal, and four in 37 postseason games as a Ranger.
Given the spotlight (or is it, microscope?) under which he will operate from the opening puck drop of Game 1, it behooves the Big Easy to sprinkle one or two in the rest of the way so his mind is clear when the dance begins.
“That’s a good question,” Nash said to The Post in response to being asked how much of a goal-scoring slump becomes mental. “I want to stay positive, and be here for the team, but I know that me helping the team is by scoring.
“So, it’s frustrating, but I’m trying to stay positive and continue to do all of the things away from the puck and in the defensive zone that helps us win.
“It seems like I’m getting my opportunities. I’ve just got to stick with it.”
from George Richards of On Frozen Pond,
In his first year as coach of the Panthers, Gerard Gallant has not let his emotions rise too high nor sink very low based on the outcome of a game.
Tuesday night, however, Gallant couldn't hide his disappointment nor frustration in what could be an extremely costly defeat.
The Panthers' playoff hopes took a major hit when Tampa Bay scored twice in the third period to come back to beat the visitors from South Florida 4-3.
Florida scored three goals in a span of 1:58 in the second period to take a lead into the third, but the hard-nosed Lightning never stopped coming.
"We battled back, we took the lead. The last goal cost us the hockey game,'' Gallant said.
"We played well, it's a disappointing loss. We gave up three weak goals -- not by the goaltending but by defensive zone coverage and not battling, not working. We played hard, but you can't give up three goals like that.''
Corey Perry appeared to get hit in the face, but upon further review he snapped his neck because of nothing, leading to the embarrassment of an embellishment penalty.
It will take you just over three minutes to catch up on the highlights from the NHL games last night...
He just returned from a concussion...
Christian Ehrhoff had to leave the game after being taken hard into the boards by Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
from Mike Strobel of the Toronto Sun,
Nashville Predators are selling out home games faster ’n a scalded hound.
They’re at 26 already this season, a record. Those Tennessee hicks are making the storied Leafs look sick.
Likely, you remember guffawing in 1998 when the NHL expanded to a small city best known for Hee Haw.
Well, he who laughs last ...
The Predators were expected to draw 17,113, a full house, for their game against Montreal Tuesday night — not all of them there just to see forward Mike Fisher’s wife, country star Carrie Underwood, and their new baby.
It’s a raucous crowd, too, known for being in their seats when the puck drops and for frequent standing ovations.
The Leafs, on the other hand, suffered their worst attendance ever at the Air Canada Centre against Minnesota on Monday night.
via Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,
Following his team's morning skate, Hitchcock was asked about the lack of scoring in the NHL this season:
"Well I think it's still a star-power driven league. I'd like to see guys get 100 points. I'd like to see 50-goal scorers again. I'd like to see all that stuff be brought in but one of the problems you have right now is there's just too much mobility in the game. Too many teams have four lines that can skate. They have four [defensemen] that are mobile. When the mobility in the game is at the level it's at now, they can recover ice. You don't get the odd-man rushes that you did before. I think this is the way the game is going to be played now. It really hard to get open offensively because people can recover ice so much.
You had, even three, four years ago, you had five, six guys on the team that were great skaters. Now, you've got a dozen on every team. You go look at junior hockey, you look at college hockey, it is really, really fast right now. Just the mobility is the key thing. Kids are being taught skating at a prime age and the mobility in the game has just changed so much right now. I just think this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years."
"With the luxury that we have with eight premium NHL defensemen, sometimes something like this is going to happen. It’s on the individual. It's on myself. It's because of my play recently. As hard as it is to say, it’s just the honest truth.
"So when you have guys that can step in any given night, you have to make sure that you bring your ‘A’ game or else something like this can happen. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for sure."
-Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks on being a healthy scratch tonight. More from Eric Stephens of the OC Register.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne and the Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price are holding court as the elite goaltenders in their respective conferences, though one could make the argument that latecomers like Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild and rookie sensation Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators are stealing the second-half spotlight from the aforementioned Vezina Trophy front-runners.
But how about a pair of underrated goalies? The St. Louis Blues' Brian Elliott and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury won't square off when their teams meet Tuesday night, but each plays behind one of the most talented, dynamic teams in the league, and their value should not be overlooked just because of the star power that surrounds them.
Despite a knee injury sustained in November that sidelined Elliott for over a month, the 29-year-old has delivered a strong season thus far. He ranks fifth in the league with a 2.16 goals-against average and has posted a 24-12-3 record with a .921 save percentage. And though he was yanked in a loss to Minnesota over the weekend, Blues goaltending coach Jim Corsi said it was due mostly to uncanny deflections for which Elliott deserved little blame.
"It's unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it," Corsi said. "Numerically it looks like, ugh, but if you watch the game all [four] pucks were deflected, either by us or by them or by both."
from Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly,
Asked whether he deserved another chance to coach next year, Berube laughed.
“When you don’t make the playoffs, anything can happen,” Berube replied. “Especially here. We’re still fighting to make the playoffs. If that happens, who knows what can happen. It’s an organization that has a lot of pride. They want to be in the fight every year.”
The Flyers' "tragic number" is now five. Five points earned by Ottawa — the current second wild card — or five points lost by the Flyers eliminates the Flyers from the playoff hunt.
When that happens, Berube’s short reign is likely over.
“Do I love coaching here?” Berube asked. “Yep, I do.”
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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