Kukla's Korner Hockey
Rich Chere of NJ.com had his readers submit questions for the Devils and Lou Lamoriello answered most of them...
As the NHL game changes and gets faster, can the Devils' system and style of defensive hockey stay competitive? And how will you get fast, skilled, younger forwards without giving up our young prospects?
"I don't know what one means by 'the way the game has changed.' Defense has never changed and defense wins championships.
"Right now we have, in our system in our opinion, some outstanding young players. We just have to make sure they develop. Up front, we have to emphasize (acquire via the draft, etc.) forwards. I think our goaltending and defense is extremely solid going forward. We have to work at improving our offense, which comes through our forwards."
many more questions answered...
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
As the trade speculation heats up, Ottawa Senators winger Chris Neil wants to be wanted.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for (Senators general manger) Bryan Murray and for what he has done here,” said Neil, who is attracting considerable interest among some playoff-bound teams — believed to include the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. “I indicated to (Murray) that this is where I want to be. But I want to be a part of it, too. I don’t just want to sit here and collect a paycheque.”
Neil, 35, is in demand because of his physical edge, the ability to agitate and to protect star players. That style is always more valuable in the post-season because the game becomes more of a grind and players wear down during the course of what could be four playoff series.
But since returning from a knee injury Jan. 20, Neil has seen only spot duty for coach Dave Cameron. Neil played only 5:33 in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils – the ice time was reduced because he needed a couple of stitches to close a gash over his right eye – and he has played fewer than eight minutes in three of his past six games.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Evander Kane failed to show up in time for Winnipeg’s game in Vancouver earlier this week following an incident with Dustin Byfuglien and other teammates, Sportsnet has learned.
It was previously believed the Jets had made Kane a scratch for the game in his hometown. Following the 3-2 overtime loss on Tuesday, Paul Maurice termed it a “coach’s decision.”
However, multiple sources familiar with the situation have since indicated that Kane was not on the team’s bus to Rogers Arena and then missed a pre-game meeting. Repeated attempts to reach him were unsuccessful until approximately an hour before puck drop, when Kane answered his cellphone and said he wouldn’t be playing against the Canucks that night.
Earlier in the day, the 23-year-old winger is said to have had a run-in with teammates.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
- NHLPA talking head Mathieu Schneider was a fine D-man, but he’s got to be kidding with the ridiculous analysis that the top guys will be fatigued by having to play an extra few shifts of 3-on-3 OT if the AHL model moves to the NHL. A few extra shifts? Tired? That’s why the top guys are making $6 mil and $8 mil and $10 mil a year. So they maybe have to play LOTS of MINUTES!
- I’m a huge Darryl Sutter fan but I’m beginning to think the Kings have little left in the tank. They might gut it out to still make the playoffs but they can’t score. They get shut out (six times) or score one goal (another seven) way too often to think they can win another Cup. Sad, but there’s a lot miles on that LA team.
- *I’ve given up figuring what second-pairing NHL D-men should be making on the open market when teams stupidly throw money around, so I those not to laugh when I heard Cody Franson, an average NHL blueliner would be in the $5.5 mil range on July 1. He’s a 35-point NHL D-man. I guess if Matt Niskanen can get 7 years at $5.75 mil in Washington last summer, anything’s possible. He had 51 points and was plus 33 in his UFA year in Pittsburgh and is predictably back to being what he really is (17 points, plus 3) now.
from Stephen Lorenzo of the New York Daily News,
It all starts with extending Johnny Boychuk. In addition to having better players than they did a year ago, the Isles now have a chemistry on and off the ice, and Boychuk is one of the keys. The affable defenseman is a pending free agent, and teammates can’t seem to talk about him without smiling.
Though he isn’t a captain, Boychuk is a leader for the Isles (32-17-1, 65 points), who were first in the Metropolitan Division entering Wednesday night. Keeping Boychuk is an Islander priority.
“There’s obviously a recipe for success on the ice and in the locker room right now and if you tinker with it — well, you don’t want to,” defenseman Calvin de Haan said. “We can’t control what’s going to happen at the end of the year, but I think it’s a good thing to keep it together, personally.”
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
“We weren't executing well enough to deny their speed,” admitted Patrice Bergeron. “We'd seen that wide side pass all game...it was kind of obvious.”
That sounds eerily like the laments of the Bruins from last spring when they knew exactly what the Canadiens were going to do and yet still fell to the Habs in the second round of the playoffs. It remains to be seen what the B’s can do to improve their overall speed among their defensemen group leading into a trade deadline that’s less than a month away, but the answer is likely “not much” outside of a course-changing deal for a D-man like Andrej Sekera or Keith Yandle.
It’s difficult to see the Bruins changing much about their DNA makeup when it comes to their defensemen given how heavily they rely on defensive size and strength around the front of the net. But it’s also difficult to avoid seeing that as part of their ultimate downfall this season in a year where they certainly look like a playoff team, but don’t really have the look of a dangerous playoff team in losses that expose their weakness like the Wednesday night rivalry game at Madison Square Garden.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The San Jose Sharks continue to play their way out of the comfort zone and into playoff danger.
Their 3-1 loss to the red-hot Calgary Flames at the Saddledome on Wednesday dropped the Sharks into third place in the Pacific Division, just two points ahead of the fourth-place Vancouver Canucks, who currently holds down the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference. And the Canucks have three games in hand. The Flames poured three goals past Alex Stalock in less than nine minutes in the second half of the second period to secure their third win in a row.
The Sharks, meanwhile, lost for the second straight game after falling in a marthathon shootout to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. That sets up an interesting tilt for the Sharks on Thursday night in Vancouver.
continue for more including LeBrun on the Flames, Custance on the Kings and Strang on the Rangers...
FLAMES SINK SHARKS, MOVE INTO SECOND IN PACIFIC
The Flames scored a trio of second-period goals – by Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler and Mason Raymond – to defeat the Sharks and pick up their third consecutive victory.
* With the win, the Flames (29-20-3, 61 points) climbed two spots in the Pacific Division, leapfrogging the Sharks (27-18-7, 61 points) and idle Canucks (28-18-3, 59 points) to move into second place:
* The Flames improved to 5-1-0 in their past six meetings with the Sharks dating to Jan. 30, 2014, including a 3-1-0 mark this season. The clubs face off one more time in 2014-15, on Monday at SAP Center.
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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