Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
- There's going to be considerable (trade) speculation, obviously, about the futures of Phil Kessel and many more Maple Leafs leading up to the draft.
Toronto is looking to rebuild and the Leafs' veteran core players will generate varying degrees of interest. Most of them have limited no trade clauses.
Kessel's limited NTC is believed to include eight teams he can be traded to. Prior to the trade deadline, TSN reported those eight teams were believed to be: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; Minnesota; Montreal; New York Rangers; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh.
But that doesn't preclude the possibility of the Leafs finding a suitable deal with a team not on the list and asking the player to amend the list. Also, with each new contract year, it's believed a new list can be submitted by the player so the list can change from year to year. The contract year expires June 30.
- The 2015 unrestricted free agent class is not perceived to have a lot of marquee value, especially as it pertains to forwards, but there does appear to be keen interest in what looks like an intriguing list of defencemen.
Amongst those expected to be available on July 1 are: Pittsburgh's Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff; Los Angeles's Andrej Sekera; Chicago's Johnny Oduya; and, Washington's Mike Green, amongst others.
A Minot man who's officiated games in the NHL for two decades is hoping to return to the ice this winter.
Thor Nelson has been out of the league for most of two seasons because of an injury suffered while officiating a game in Winnipeg in 2013.
Jim Olson caught up with him this week to find out about his recovery.
It was a game in Winnipeg in 2013 that changed Thor Nelson's NHL officiating career.
"I remember leading up to the incident, I stepped in between two guys who were fighting and I don't remember the rest which happened to be a right cross that caught me instead of one of the players."
That right cross gave Nelson a concussion - something that erased his memory of finishing the game - which he did - and driving home from Winnipeg to Minot - which he also did. He fought through it - staying on the ice, but knowing things were not right.
"I was in Vancouver and couldn't see my partner across the ice, it was all blurry, and I went to a team doctor and said we gotta talk."
That was in the 2013-14 season and he had to hang up his skates, leaving behind his life in the NHL.
continued and watch the interview below...
from Joe Smith of Lightning Strikes,
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop participated in today's optional morning skate, but says it'll be an "extremely tough decision" whether he plays in tonight's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
Bishop, the team's MVP and backbone, wants to start, and says progress is being made in recovering from an undisclosed injury. But Bishop said "the line" is figuring out if he's healthy enough to be effective. Bishop said he'll talk with coach Jon Cooper and the trainers shortly and make a group decision.
How does Bishop make that call?
"I think it's just experience. You kind of know what you can do," Bishop said. "It's a really tough decision, at this time of year it's not about one person when you get this far, you don't want to hurt the team at all. It's been a long season, you got this far, don't want to hold back the team. It's an extremely tough decision."
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
There have been 49 recipients of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP since the award was first handed out in 1965.
A defenseman has won the Conn Smythe only nine times. But another may be joining that elite club this year.
While there’s still time for Tyler Johnson or Jonathan Toews to have a couple of impactful games before the end of the Stanley Cup finals to help their MVP case, it is hard not to view blueliners Victor Hedman and Duncan Keith as the front-runners right now.
"You look at their consistency from the start of the playoffs up until now, I mean, that’s probably the biggest thing for those two guys," Hall of Fame blueliner Al MacInnis, the 1989 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, told ESPN.com on Friday. "You could probably build the case for three or four players on each team, but you look at those two guys, you look at their level of play, you look at their consistency, you look at their matchups, the impact they’ve had on games. I think it would be tough to slide by those two names."
SNEAK PEEK AT SATURDAY’S ACTION
Chicago @ Tampa Bay, series tied 2-2, 8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT, NBC, CBC, TVA
TEAMS LOOK FOR EDGE AS STANLEY CUP FINAL RETURNS TO TAMPA
Knotted at 2-2, both the Lightning and Blackhawks look to gain the upper hand as the Stanley Cup Final returns to Amalie Arena for Game 5. The opening four games of the series each have been decided by one goal, just the third such occurrence in Stanley Cup Final history (also in 1951 and 1968). Only one Stanley Cup Final has featured five consecutive one-goal games to open the series – the 1951 affair between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens in which all five contests required overtime (TOR, 4-1). Overall, nine of the past 11 games between the Lightning and Blackhawks – including the regular season – have been decided by one goal dating to March 9, 2011 (TBL: 8-2-1, CHI: 3-4-4).
DID YOU KNOW?
The team that has won Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Final has gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 16 of 23 times (69.6%) since the series adopted the best-of-seven format in 1939. However, the club that has lost Game 5 has rebounded to win the series in four of the past seven occasions (all since 2001).
* In the most recent such occurrence, in 2013, the Blackhawks defeated the Bruins, 3-1, in Game 5 before ultimately winning the series in six contests.
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
“I remember his first training camp with us last year. It’s pretty magical what he can do with the puck,” Tyler Johnson said. “You can tell he’s been working with (Pavel) Datsyuk pretty much all his entire career. For him to come over here and kind of teach us the little things about puck control, how you can slow down the tempo of the game a bit and play his style, I think a lot of guys learned from that.”
While Filppula has been pushed down in the pecking order by players such as Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Killorn, his defensive play still has given the Lightning value.
The two-way centre, who learned how to play the right way from Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg under coach Mike Babcock, allowed a struggling Stamkos to move over to the wing in these playoffs. And whether it is taking an important faceoff (his 52.8 per cent success rate is second only to Jonathan Toews’ 55.2 per cent), killing a penalty or protecting a lead in the final minute of a one-goal game, Filppula has Cooper’s trust in big moments.
“You look at the minutes and the situations he plays for us,” Cooper said. “He kills penalties, he takes the big draws, he plays in the power play, he plays in our top six. That goes down as one of those sneaky signings that people have already probably forgotten about.”
Forget for a moment that the Coyotes’ long-running instability is a red flare for adding a team in a similar non-traditional hockey market such as Las Vegas.
Adding a team anywhere when the league doesn’t have its house in order with its 30 existing teams seems foolhardy.
Of course, for a share of the potential $500 million expansion fee from the Las Vegas ownership group, those 30 teams might be convinced to approve putting a team on Mars regardless of its practicality.
If the NHL has not committed to anything so far with expansion – as Bettman has repeatedly stated – it would hurt no one to wait on Las Vegas until this latest soap opera with the Coyotes plays out.
-Tom Gulitti of The Record where you can read more on this topic.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,m
Welcome to the 2015 Stanley Cup final, otherwise known as a Tale of Two Coaches.
In the Tampa corner, you have the personable Cooper, 47, who rubs shoulders with Charles Barkley, had his group’s tab picked up by actor Vince Vaughn at a Chicago steak joint last weekend, and carries with him a swagger that makes you realize just how comfortable he is in his own skin.
Quenneville, 56, is too, but in a far different way. A far nicer man than he gets credit for, especially behind the scenes, Coach Q, as some of the players call him, is far more no nonsense, a do-it-his-way-or-the-highway type who isn’t afraid to let his guys know if they aren’t performing up to par.
In that regard, both teams are reflections of their respective coaches.
The Lightning players are young, fast and, like Cooper, feel as if they can beat anyone.
Like Quenneville, the Hawks are battle-proven, determined, business-like and have established — thanks to Cups in 2010 and 13 — that they’ve already beaten anyone and everyone.
Up until now.
Now comes the real litmus test, at least where these playoffs are concerned.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The numbers are eerie. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks seem like twinsies in this Stanley Cup final.
Two wins apiece, nine goals apiece, a three-shot difference in pucks on goal, an eight-shot difference in attempts. The same number of blocks. A save percentage just three-hundredths of a point apart.
We’ve had no overtime games thus far but it pretty much feels that way for all 60 minutes, like one goal is going to mean everything. This is the first Cup final to open with four one-goal games since a Montreal sweep of St. Louis in 1968. And that was a sweep where the verdict was pretty much expected, not an up-for-grabs affair like this one.
As we head to Game Five on Saturday in Amalie Arena, here’s the stat I still can’t over: Through 240 minutes over four games, the score has either been tied or a one-goal differential for every second. Another one-goal result, guaranteed if we get our long-overdue first OT, will mark the first time all five games have been that tight since 1951.
At this point, little things become big things.
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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