Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
If the Capitals decide to spend some of their remaining cash to re-sign Joel Ward, who will otherwise enter unrestricted free agency for the third time in his career, the versatile forward would welcome returning with open arms. According to his agent, speaking via telephone Tuesday, the proverbial puck sits in Washington’s end.
“Washington is his first choice over going to unrestricted free agency,” Peter Cooney said. “We would like to re-sign with Washington and come back. Our door is open for the Capitals, absolutely first and foremost.”
Coming off a starring postseason role in which he tied for the team lead with nine points, facing the end of a four-year deal annually worth $3 million, Ward figures to receive a raise, regardless of his destination. At 34 years old, this could be Ward’s last deal structured longer than two years, and MacLellan already predicted that term length would “be an issue,” provided Ward for asks for a three- or four-year contract, which seems all but certain.
With forwards Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr also entering unrestricted free agency, the Capitals likely won’t bring back both of them and Ward, while still satisfying MacLellan’s stated offseason desire to acquire a top-six winger.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Cooper was adamant about ensuring no feeling of complacency had settled in around his group.
"We can't just sit here and say we played a pretty good game in Game 5, that'll just carry us into a win tonight," he said. "If we don't play better than we did in Game 5, we won't win tonight. That's kind of my message."
The affable coach has won five championships during his career, but has never experienced a game as big as this one.
"For me it's excitement, nervousness, fear, anticipation," said Cooper. "I can whip through a bunch of things. It's really an exciting time."
more on both teams...
from Tal Pinchevsky of the New York Times,
Maroon’s is a unique hockey journey which shifted the day the Flyers told him to pack his bags.
“The organization made a decision to send him home,” said Greg Gilbert, who delivered that message to Maroon as the coach of Philadelphia’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.
“He wasn’t committed to himself,” Gilbert said. “In Patrick’s case, I don’t really think he knew how to train and play at that level.”
At the time of his unceremonious exit, Maroon led the Phantoms with five goals in the team’s first nine games. He was emboldened the previous summer by his first overseas tournament, a gold medal performance at the 2010 I.I.H.F. InLine World Championship.
Playing alongside two of his oldest friends, Maroon scored seven goals and 14 points in six games at the in-line worlds. He even notched a goal and an assist in the gold medal game in Karlstad, Sweden, against the Czechs.
“It was the best time of my life,” Maroon said. “You got away from everything. You got away from all the stress and worries about other things. I went there to have fun and just enjoy my time with those guys and meet new people and enjoy Sweden.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was a huge disappointment, but his contract makes moving him difficult.
T.J Oshie seems like an obvious target, given his high trade value, significant salary and unproductive playoff. He also had the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the team was subjected to information overload.
Patrik Berglund had a couple of big playoff moments, but that scarcely helped fans forget his ineffective regular season. As Armstrong looks for ways to create payroll flexibility, Berglund's roster spot would be a good place to start.
It would be great to see venerable defenseman Barret Jackman finish his career where it started, but there is no room for sentimentality when a team keeps coming up short in the playoffs.
Armstrong could do something much bigger and trade previously untouchable players.Again, the core group of this team is clearly in transition.
An interesting summer awaits this franchise now that Hitchcock is back on board to start another year.
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
The difference between these two teams during the first five games? Tampa Bay’s best players have made a difference. New York’s have not.
The Lightning have scored 16 goals in the series, all of which can be attributed to their top-six forwards. Steven Stamkos has tallied in each of the past four games and is playing his best hockey when his team needs him most. Nikita Kucherov has six points. So does Tyler Johnson. No. 1 defenseman Victor Hedman has four assists in the series. They’ve been like shark teeth. If one falls out, another is in place to continue tearing the Rangers to shreds.
It hasn’t been so easy for New York’s finest. Rick Nash was great in Game 4, but was back to settling for perimeter chances in Game 5. Martin St. Louis has one goal and should probably stand up and wave at the camera at some point so we can verify that he’s shown up. Chris Kreider apparently needs to hire a Sherpa to guide him to the Lightning’s crease and a friendly reminder that he’s at his best when he’s making the other team angry. Derick Brassard has had his moments (that Game 4 pass to St. Louis who put it away) but they’ve been too few and too far between.
The Rangers need a stand-up effort from their blueline as well. The Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi pair has been an inconsistent answer to The Triplets of Tampa Bay.
Watch and listen....
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
The Bruins have roughly $60.5 million in contracts committed to 15 players for next season, and there’s still a good chance the cap will fall somewhere under $71 based on the NHLPA’s vote on higher escrow and the cap escalator. Last season the players voted against the escalator that chopped $1 million off the salary cap’s upper ceiling, and that same thing could very well happen again this season.
So Sweeney will make phone calls, trade text messages furiously with other GMs and start working toward moving some players around the NHL Draft and opening of free agency on July 1.
A decision on Milan Lucic is at the top of the list for a number of reasons: he can bring the most dynamic assets in return, he carries a $6 million cap hit for this upcoming season before UFA status and much of their offseason strategy would be tailored on whether or not they’ll have No. 17’s intermittently dominant physical presence on the roster.
But other players like Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg and Reilly Smith could, and should, very well be in play for trade talks, and the Bruins would be wise to at least see what’s out there for a 38-year-old Chara. He’s one year removed from being a Norris Trophy finalist and is still a top-pairing defensive stopper, and those players hold value around the NHL as potential game-changing forces . . . even if it’s only for a couple more seasons.
Home Team in Caps
ANAHEIM 5, Chicago 4 (OT) – ANA leads series 3-2
BELESKEY’S OT HEROICS HELP DUCKS SURVIVE BLACKHAWKS’ RALLY
The Blackhawks scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime, but Matt Beleskey recorded the winning goal just 45 seconds into the extra period to propel the Ducks to a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference Final.
* The Ducks moved within one victory of their third Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history (also 2003 and 2007).
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
The Stars’ biggest issue in the summer will probably be sorting out their goaltending _ and there still is plenty of information coming in on that subject.
Kari Lehtonen has three years left on his contract at a cap hit of $5.9 million, but is coming off an uneven season. While he ranked 11th in wins at 34-17-10, he ranked 36th in goals against average at 2.94 and 41st in save percentage at .903. Those are among the worst numbers for No. 1 goalies in the NHL.
So the question of whether or not to change the top of the goalie pyramid is going to be the big issue _ including whether or not the Stars can even move Lehtonen if they so desire.
But there also are decisions to be made at pretty much every single level of goaltending for Dallas. Backup goalie Jhonas Enroth and prospect Jack Campbell both participated in the World Championships, and their performances could also be classified as “uneven.” Meanwhile, prospect Philippe Desrosier has gotten his junior team _ the Rimouski Oceanic _ to the Memorial Cup, but also has had his share of ups and downs this season.
from Joe McDonald of ESPN,
"It’s a roller coaster of emotions. It goes up and down," Lundqvist said. "You just have to deal with it the best you can, deal with the pressure you put on yourself, expectations you have on you. It just comes down to keeping your focus on what you need to do -- that’s it. Don’t focus on too many other things, especially things you can’t control."
Bishop’s calmness should be bottled and sold over the counter as a sleeping drug.
"You’ve got to treat it like the regular season," he said. "When you play 60-whatever games, you’re going to have some good ones, you’re going to have some bad ones. You’re going to have some unlucky ones, you’re going to have some lucky ones. It’s kind of the same in the playoffs. You can’t put too much emphasis on one game. ... You just can’t look at it in a real short window. You’ve got to look at it big picture, and that’s a big thing. If you treat it like the regular season, where there’s going to be good games and bad games, it’s easier to move on."
What allows two quality goaltenders to remain so calm in a situation such as this?
"It doesn’t get any easier," one NHL goalie coach said. "Certainly, the pressure surrounding the games ramps up as you go through the rounds. In a lot of ways, the game’s almost a little bit easier because everybody is so attentive to blocking shots, picking up your checks, making good, hard plays."
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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