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Players Under Pressure

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

Five players in particular will be feeling the heat of the spotlight this season. Here's why:

4. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes -- The Hurricanes are already limping into the season with the devastating news that Jordan Staal is out for 3-4 months because of a broken leg. They can't afford to have questions in goal, that's for sure. And the way Anton Khudobin acquitted himself last season, Cam Ward does not have a long leash to prove he is the guy in Carolina. Though Ward's NHL career began in stunning fashion -- he led the Canes to a Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process -- it has cooled off considerably....

5. Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes -- Ward's not the only goaltender feeling the heat. After a stunning 2011-12 campaign in which he posted a 38-18-10 record, .930 save percentage and 2.21 goals against average and helped lead the Coyotes to the Western Conference finals, Smith has posted rather pedestrian numbers since then. The Coyotes have stuck with him, though, making this a critical season for both him and the team. Failing to make the playoffs for two straight years, the Coyotes need Smith to be at his absolute best for the team to hang with the big boys in the Western Conference.

more on each plus the Top 3 players under pressure...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

All About GameCenter Live

from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,

GameCenter Live, the NHL’s cross-platform streaming service, has been tweaked to better incorporate stats, news, social media and video clips. The latter category is perhaps the biggest leap forward: Now you can watch highlights in a picture-in-picture format inside a live game feed.

Another innovation: Additional camera angles. GameCenter Live will feature two cameras placed above each goal net that fans can watch throughout the game, getting the same feed they receive in the NHL War Room. You can watch the action on the ice, and then watch everyone crash the net. 

There may also be feeds available from games on Rogers in Canada that include a “POV” camera placed on the players’ benches.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Ryan Johansen Agrees To A Three-Year Contract With Columbus

added 11:22am,

 

added 1:56pm,

COLUMBUS, OHIO — The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with center Ryan Johansen on a three-year contract, Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.  As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.

“Ryan is an important member of the Blue Jackets family and we are pleased to have reached agreement on a contract with him through the 2016-17 season,” said Kekalainen.  “We’ve always believed that Ryan has the chance to be a very special player and are confident that his continued growth and development will be an important part of our team’s success now and in the future.”
 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ryan+johansen

The Stanley Cup Drought In Canada

from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,

When 2013-14 coach of the year Patrick Roy stood behind the Colorado bench for a recent exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, a banner dangling high over his head from the rafters underscored the woes Canada’s NHL teams have endured over the past two decades.

There, hanging from the ceiling of the cavernous arena, was the prestigious flag honouring the 1993 Stanley Cup champions.

The same Habs team that featured Roy as its star goalie.

Even Roy could not have predicted at the time that no Canadian team would earn the right to smear its collective fingerprints on hockey’s shiny Holy Grail for the next 21 years — and counting.

That’s how bad things have been for the NHL franchises located north of the border.

continued

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Business Sense Started Early For Craig Leipold

from Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune,

Craig Leipold is the rare owner who is both down to earth and good at his job. As he twists a few stat sheets into a wad, grumbling about the performance of a certain player, his father stands in the back of the suite, grinning.

“The bottle is always half-full with that one,” Werner Leipold said. “He always believes his team is going to win the Stanley Cup.”

That hasn’t happened yet. Leipold, who bought an expansion NHL franchise before he “knew what offsides was,” he said, has owned the Nashville Predators and the Minnesota Wild. As Leipold grumbled and exulted during a preseason game on a recent weeknight, his father said he saw early signs of business acumen from his son.

“When he was little, there was a construction site near our house,” Werner Leipold said. “They were building a school. So Craig started bringing them ice. For a price. Then, he started bringing them soda, for a little more money.

“Then one of the guys told him that if he wanted to make real money, he should bring them beer. I had to put a stop to it after Craig sold all of my Miller Lites.”

read on

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Every Team Is Trying To Catch Montreal

from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,

Training camp and the preseason, Subban said, “is just a matter of trying to prepare for the regular season. You can’t focus on the positives and negatives, it’s just trying to get better every game. And trying to feel better every game.

“There’s still another level that we need to get to, right? It takes time. We have to continue to keep the game simple, keep it in front of us, work together. This team, this organization has had success because they play as a unit. We have to continue to do that.”

Back-to-back games against the Senators on Friday and Saturday turned up the heat more than a little with tempers flaring, gloves dropping, bodies thundering. If a rivalry with Ottawa continues to build, its foundation poured in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals two seasons ago, Subban sees a bigger picture.

“Everybody wants to beat us,” he said. “We have the most Stanley Cups (24) in the league. People want to beat us every time they play us. We’re the No. 1 target. Other than the Stanley Cup champion, we’re the next ones in line. Everybody’s trying to catch us.

more

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How Much Better Are The Edmonton Oilers?

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,

The team that gave us the TV series “Oil Change” has ironically managed not to change even a bit. So we asked second year general manager Craig MacTavish on cut-down day: Why should fans think that this year is going to be any different?

“You’re underestimating the quality of our fans. The educated fan base would say there is a lot of reasons for optimism,” was how his reply began. Then he began to tick off the reasons:

“I know the goaltending is stabilized. We set out to make some changes and improve the depth on defence. We’ve done that. We’ve got development of our star players, [and additions] with Leon playing well. Teddy Purcell has played very well the last three games. Benoit Pouliot has been an extremely valuable addition.

“So there’s no question, in my mind, that we’re better. And we’re significantly better. But…” It was a big but. One that requires explanation.

The question with this team isn’t if it is better. Of course it is it, for all the reasons MacTavish just stated.

more

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Calling It Corsi

from Bob McKenzie of TSN,

Legend has it that Vic Ferrari heard long-time Buffalo Sabre goalie coach Jim Corsi on a radio interview talking about measuring a goalie’s workload by tallying up not only shots on goal but missed shots and blocked shots as well and then Ferrari went into his secret hockey nerd lair in Edmonton, crunched the numbers, sprinkled some magic dust and, poof, Corsi was born, named for the cerebral goalie coach and former math teacher who inspired it.

Not true.

Ferrari told me it was actually then Buffalo Sabre general manager Darcy Regier he originally heard on the radio talking about shot attempts, not Jim Corsi. In fact, at that moment, when Ferrari was listening to Regier, he had never even heard of Jim Corsi.

Here’s what Ferrari told me in April:

“I was going to call (the new metric) the “Regier” number. But it didn’t sound good; it didn’t seem right. Then I was going to call it the “Ruff” number (after then Sabres’ coach Lindy Ruff), but that obviously sounded bad. So I went to the Buffalo Sabre website and looked at a picture of a guy on their website, and Jim Corsi kind of fit the bill. So I called it a “Corsi number” and then I pretended it was (Corsi) I heard on the radio talking about it – that’s what I told people. That’s basically (how Corsi got named).”

Wait a minute. Was Ferrari actually saying Corsi became Corsi because he liked the look of Jim Corsi’s picture, especially his moustache, on the Sabre website and the sound of his surname?

more

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Fading Slapshot Goal

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

With the help of statistician Andrew Bailey, we mined NHL game sheets for the 2013-14 season to follow up on our study of goals in 2011-12 — the last two non-lockout campaigns. Goals increased by nearly 100 — to 7,051 — from 6,949 two years before. Only slapshots and backhanders proved less successful from one season to the next.

Three seasons ago, 892 slapshots went in, compared to 859 last year for roughly a four per cent drop. The slapshot was responsible for 12.8 per cent of goals in 2011-12, 12.2 per cent last season — when only 5.4 per cent of all slapshot attempts led directly to goals.

Scoring via the backhander was also down — 695 last season, compared to 776 in 2011-12 — but the success rate was greater, with 10.5 per cent winding up in the net.

By comparison, the success rate for deflected shots was 20.6 per cent. Others: tip-ins (19.3), snapshots (9.1 per cent), wrist shots (8.6 per cent) and wraparounds (6.7 per cent).

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Left Or Right-Handed Shot

from Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe,

There is a strange quirk in the United States. Although stick manufacturers sell more lefthanded sticks to the rest of the world (specifically Canada and Europe), they sell more righthanded sticks in the US, according to an industry representative. The split is somewhere from 60-65 percent lefthanded around the world, and 60-65 percent righthanded in the US.

Apprised of the fact, Milan Lucic started listing names: Phil Kessel, David Backes, Joe Pavelski.

All star forwards from the US. All right shots.

“We’re the country that is backward with it,” said Ken Martel, the technical director of the American Development Model for USA Hockey.

USA Hockey is so concerned the organization is studying the issue to make sure the US isn’t losing top talent to something as fundamental as grabbing the wrong end of the stick.

“What we have extrapolated looking at this [is] a lot of our growth has been in nontraditional hockey areas, a lot of first-generation hockey people,” Martel said. “So when they take their kid to the pro shop to buy a hockey stick and the guy says, ‘What is he – right or lefthanded?’ They go, ‘He’s righthanded. He’s right hand dominant, he writes with his right hand.’

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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