Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Neil Best of Newsday,
It has been a long time since the New York area had a hockey regular season such as this one - not only on the ice but also as reflected by television ratings.
Take the Islanders: Their games on MSG Networks have averaged 0.60 percent of homes, which might not sound like much but is 76 percent better than at this point last season.
The Rangers were up 26 percent to 1.63 percent of area homes entering Monday night's game and easily will surpass the Knicks for the first time since 2007-08.
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
“We need to worry about ourselves, we can’t be scoreboard-watchers,” rookie 20-goal scorer Mark Stone said. “We just need to bear down, win our game on Tuesday and go forward from there.”
Karlsson said the Senators have been facing each game for the past several weeks as the most important of their season, and their upcoming showdown with the Penguins is no different.
“Same mentality,” Ottawa’s Norris Trophy candidate said. “They’re still a good team and they’re on the brink, as well, and they’re going to bring out their best. They’re a well-established team and we’ve got to play our best to have a chance to win.”
If the Senators lose to the Penguins in regulation, Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot and Ottawa moves to the brink. Elimination could come as soon as Wednesday, depending on how the Red Wings and Bruins do.
Until it’s over, though, the Senators are confident about their chances heading into Tuesday.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Remember when it looked as though the Predators had secured their spot atop the Central Division with a bold pre-deadline trade that repatriated Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli from the Maple Leafs?
“He’s a top-four defenseman on pretty well any team right now,” Nashville GM David Poile gushed about Franson, who was the key to the deal. “He was always big and great on the power play. Now he’s much more of a well-rounded guy.”
Franson, a regular on Toronto’s top pair, was slated to play on the second unit with the Preds, adding the element of veteran depth that every contender craves. Instead, he’s become a spare part, or worse, on a team that’s stumbling to the finish line. In two of his past five games he’s been nailed to the bench for most of the third period after his failure to make simple plays led to opposition goals. In Saturday night’s 5-4 loss to Dallas it was his inability to clear a puck from the crease that allowed fourth liner Colton Sceviour to pick up the loose change and put the Preds in a 3–1 hole.
continued plus more hockey topics...
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
What follows are five probing end-of-season questions asked of 20 NHL head coaches – 10 in the Eastern Conference and 10 in the Western Conference. And, in all seriousness, thank you to the 20 gentlemen - and that they are - for taking a few moments out of their gut-wrenching, soul-sucking, ulcer-inducing weekends of NHL activity to participate in the DSBNWATOI/WEOS NHL Coaches’ Poll. There’s a special place for all of you in Hockey Heaven, where no one ever gets fired, every day is a Stanley Cup parade and no one ever asks you do a coaches’ poll.
So here we go:
Who goes into the playoffs as odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup and which are the two teams to beat in your conference (forgetting about divisional and/or wild card formatting).
Survey says: The New York Rangers enter the playoffs as the morning-line favorite, with 11 of 20 coaches tabbing them as the team to beat. The Rangers were the only Eastern Conference team to get a vote as Cup favorite; Anaheim and Los Angeles (the defending champion Kings aren’t even guaranteed a playoff spot) got three votes apiece, St. Louis had two and Chicago one.
As for the conference teams to beat – again, keeping in mind there was no allowance made for the divisional playoff format - Eastern coaches surveyed were unanimous on the Rangers, 10 for 10. Tampa was the clear second choice, just ahead of Washington. Montreal and the Islanders got a little but not a lot of love.
In the West, the coaches viewed it as a three-headed monster with Anaheim, St. Louis and Chicago in, more or less, a dead heat for support as the two teams to beat. Nashville and Minnesota got mentioned, but just that.
from Jonathan Willis of Sportsnet,
On one level, the idea of expanded playoffs cheapens the whole exercise of the regular season. Already more than half of the teams in the league participate in the postseason; adding a qualification round would increase the number to two-thirds. What’s the point of an 82-game regular season when two out of three teams are going to make the playoffs anyway?
That line of reasoning misses the point, however, because a playoff qualification round actually increases the importance of the regular season in at least two ways.
First, it increases the rewards for finishing at the top of the league. This year, a team that finishes first in its division in the West can look forward to a first-round matchup with Minnesota or possibly Los Angeles. The situation isn’t much better out East; Boston currently holds one spot and the other could go to any of the Capitals, Islanders or Penguins (teams currently in a three-way race which is too close to call). Parity means that the gap between the first and fourth place teams in the division is narrower than ever.
With a qualification round, a first-place finisher would have some reward for its fine regular season.
from Nichols On Hockey,
Elliotte Friedman was on Calgary’s Sportsnet 690 on Monday morning.
On what he sees as the first shoe dropping with the San Jose Sharks after the season:
“I’ve been told that when – and I have no proof of it – but when the owner stepped in when everybody kind of blew up at each other there, the word I was given was that Joe Thornton was told he was not going anywhere. That he’s going to stay and he’s going to retire a San Jose Shark. Which I do believe is the case. Joe Thornton has made it very clear he’s not getting traded unless he wants to be and he doesn’t want to be.
“And to be perfectly honest, he’s been their second-best player this year. So why would you want to trade him anyway.”
Later in the discussion on the Sharks:
“I’ve heard – I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t be passing along rumors, but what the heck – it’s radio and that’s what we do. Last year, that when this whole thing started and there was a debate about whether or not they wanted to trade him, he basically said: ‘You know what? I’m not moving. If you want to get rid of me, buy me out. Then I can go anywhere I want.’
NEW YORK (April 6, 2015) -- Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, Philadelphia Flyers center Brayden Schenn and Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno and have been named the NHL's "Three Stars" for the week ending April 5.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens' playoff chances never seemed to be in peril despite a multitude of injuries during season, but the team is now clinging for dear life to a wild-card spot in the East. The Pens are currently tied with the Detroit Red Wings with 95 points, though Pittsburgh has one more non-shootout win than the Wings. But beyond the Wings, the Pens still have plenty to worry about, with an inspired Ottawa team -- that they face on Tuesday – trailing by just three points.
The Detroit Red Wings' depth: The good news is that the Red Wings got back Pavel Datsyuk on Saturday versus Minnesota after the veteran star missed the previous two games with a lower-body injury. The bad news is that the team’s giant 3-2 win against the Wild resulted in the loss of one of their most effective forwards in Justin Abdelkader, who missed Sunday’s match with a hand injury. Hopefully for the Wings, Abdelkader will return swiftly, as the team is already ailing without Tomas Jurco and veteran Erik Cole, both of whom are sidelined with upper-body injuries. Things have gotten dire quickly for Detroit following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Capitals; the Red Wings have dropped to the second wild-card spot in the East.
Strang on the Western Conference...
CAPITALS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH
Braden Holtby made 35 saves to backstop the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. This victory combined with the Ottawa Senators loss in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs enabled the Capitals to clinch a berth in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Washington reached the postseason for the 25th time in franchise history and for the seventh time in the last eight seasons.
* The Capitals improved to 44-25-11 (99 points) this season and moved past the idle New York Islanders into second place in the Metropolitan Division standings.
* The Capitals have earned points in five straight games (4-0-1) and have also earned points in seven of their last eight road games (6-1-1).
Western Conference is 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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