Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
“Did I see some improvements? For sure,” Johnston said “We were playing a top team, a little bit short-handed. Quite a few players actually had really good games, but we still had four or five guys who need to pick up their compete level.”
Oh. You mean 20 to 25 percent of the roster?
So, three weeks from the start of the NHL playoffs then, the Penguins have four or five guys who aren’t competing hard enough.
By the club’s own public admission.
I’m no expert, but the implications of that numerical sequence, the ol’ 3-4-5, can’t be good.
Chris Kunitz apparently can’t be good anymore, either.
In 12 games this month, he has no goals and two assists.
“I liked parts of his game,” Johnston insisted. “He was at least in the scoring areas.”
David Perron has at least found the net thrice this month, but his shots are so erratic he’s a danger to players of both teams as well as at least a portion of the audience.
via Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,
Following his team's morning skate, Hitchcock was asked about the lack of scoring in the NHL this season:
"Well I think it's still a star-power driven league. I'd like to see guys get 100 points. I'd like to see 50-goal scorers again. I'd like to see all that stuff be brought in but one of the problems you have right now is there's just too much mobility in the game. Too many teams have four lines that can skate. They have four [defensemen] that are mobile. When the mobility in the game is at the level it's at now, they can recover ice. You don't get the odd-man rushes that you did before. I think this is the way the game is going to be played now. It really hard to get open offensively because people can recover ice so much.
You had, even three, four years ago, you had five, six guys on the team that were great skaters. Now, you've got a dozen on every team. You go look at junior hockey, you look at college hockey, it is really, really fast right now. Just the mobility is the key thing. Kids are being taught skating at a prime age and the mobility in the game has just changed so much right now. I just think this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years."
Watch the goal below...
from Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press,
If this is what Stanley Cup playoff hockey would look, sound and smell like, the Winnipeg Jets and their long-suffering faithful have one message/plea to the gods of hockey:
The Jets and St. Louis Blues served up a dandy Thursday night in front of an even-more-raucous-than-usual MTS Centre crowd with the home side emerging from a heavyweight bout with a 2-1 shootout victory that just oozed playoff intensity from the opening puck drop to the final horn.
The victory extends the Jets win streak to three games, keeps them above the playoff line in the Western Conference playoff race and -- almost as important -- ends a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) against their Central Division rivals in the Blues.
"I'm not worried about our team playing over the edge with energy," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "We spent everything we had and we needed the fans to be as great as they were in that building tonight because they had a lot to do with us playing that hard for that long."
Watch the highlights below...
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The win over Calgary allowed the Blues to leapfrog Nashville into first place in the division with 95 points, one more than the Predators. But more important to the team, its second straight shutout and third in four games is proof that everything seems to be clicking on cue.
“The timing of the season, things are amping up,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Our checking is starting to get back to the level that it was at previously. We’ve got some firepower to score goals. When we’re on top of things, it’s hard to shut down three lines.
“We seem to have the right mix offensively, somebody is coming through for us and then defensively we’re all pretty much committed right now. (And) our goaltending has been the story the last 10 days or so. These guys have given us a chance to win every night.”
The Blues have 12 games remaining in the regular season, including the next four on the road. They are 12-2-1 in their last 15 road games, averaging 3.46 goals per game and allowing 1.93.
The puck did go in the net, but not between the goal posts.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
First, congratulations to St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock on 700 NHL wins. Thursday night's shutout win over the Philadelphia Flyers put him in a 700 club that includes just three others: Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Joel Quenneville. That's amazing company and Hitchcock, one of the greats, deserves to be there.
As for the shorter-view accomplishment, that win did something else pretty amazing. It allowed the Blues to catch the Nashville Predators for the top spot in the Central Division. We can't say for sure that the Predators collapse timed up neatly with good friend Scott Burnside's visit to Nashville, but something has gone horribly wrong there and the Blues are taking advantage.
The only problem? At this point, it just means they'd get the Los Angeles Kings in the first round instead of the Chicago Blackhawks. There just isn't an easy path coming out of the Central.
continue for LeBrun on the Jets, Burnside on the race for the President's Trophy and Scott Powers on the Blackhawks...
from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,
... despite rallying from a 4-1 deficit with three goals in the third period, the Jets left Scottrade Center empty-handed after Ondrej Pavelec was fooled by a long shot by defenceman Barret Jackman from just outside the blue line with 63 seconds left in regulation as the St. Louis Blues skated away with a 5-4 victory on Tuesday night.
Pavelec came on in relief at 11:09 of the second period and was mostly brilliant, turning aside the first 19 shots that he faced.
But it was the seeing-eye wrister from Jackman that is going to be plastered all over the highlights and will likely be the lasting memory.
“It went in. It was nothing more magical than that,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, when asked for an explanation of what he saw on the game-winning goal.
In watching the replay, it wasn't even clear if Jackman was trying to dump the puck in or actually take a shot on net.
Pavelec declined all media requests, choosing not to provide a description of the play in question.
Below, watch the game-winning goal and highlights from the game...
from Curtis Rush of the Toronto Star,
The Star chatted with Hitchcock on Friday, a day before the Blues faced the Leafs, and we asked him about coaching and innovations in hockey.
You don’t allow players to hang their heads on the bench. Why?
We hate that here because there’s body language that the opposition is looking at. You never want the opposition to say you’re discouraged, we don’t put up with it. There are no sloped shoulders.
You speak of ownership from the team’s best players. What does that mean?
I think if the best players aren’t leading it becomes a little bit chaotic, so we ask our top players to lead us, not just in the games but in the practices. The demands we place on them aren’t so much what they say, it’s how they perform everyday when we’re together.
Have you ever been offered a chance to coach the Leafs, and would you if the chance presented itself?
I’m not commenting on that one, they have a coach.
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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