Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
St. Louis release is below....
COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded right wing Adam Cracknell to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for future considerations, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Cracknell, 29, recorded an assist and two penalty minutes in 17 games with the Blue Jackets and added 3-4-7 and two penalty minutes in 18 games with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Falcons this season after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on October 7. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native has appeared in 82 career NHL games with Columbus and St. Louis, registering 6-11-17 and 14 penalty minutes.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“What we’re doing is not paying any respect to checking,” he said. “We’re not paying any respect to defense, to managing the puck, to managing the proper way to play. I don’t care what the shots on goal are. When you give up as many odd-man rushes as we gave up in the last two games, we’re showing no respect for what matters in the National Hockey League at this time.
“And in the offensive zone, the sense of urgency that we’re not playing with, that we’ve played with all year, is not there. That’s why we don’t score, that’s why we don’t get second and third chances, that’s why we don’t win the front-of-the-net battles. Those combinations are lethal the wrong way. You have no control over the hockey game because of the scoring chances you give up off these odd-man rushes.
“We’re a team that’s made a lot of great inroads on playing a certain way and now we don’t want to play that way, and we’re not interested in playing the way that’s been successful here. We want to play a different way right now and it’s really, really hurting us.”
more on the Blues...
Below, watch Hitchcock post-game...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Doug Armstrong has shown he's got brass coconuts when it comes to making the moves he's needed to make for this team the last few years. But having given up future assets over a few trade deadlines, including this year's first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in the Miller deal, you can't go for the home run every year. His team is deep, it's good enough to make a run at a championship. Could he tweak it with a depth move or two? Yes, I think that's possible. Also, if they do something, in a perfect world it would be a hockey deal not a rental, a player who could also play for the team beyond this season.
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
Nearing the end of a grueling stretch of nine games in 15 days, including seven in the last 11 and three in the last four, the St. Louis Blues may be showing signs of slowing down.
After a franchise-record 13-game unbeaten streak, they were pounded 7-1 at Columbus on Friday and then failed to deliver again Sunday in a 4-2 home loss to the rival Chicago Blackhawks. The game Sunday was tied 2-2 headed into the third period, but Chicago controlled play after that.
“Most of us took yesterday off,” Blues captain David Backes said. “We’re getting the rest on the off days and everyone’s kind of got a chaotic schedule this time of the year. I think we had a lot of jump the first two periods (Sunday).
“We were playing on our toes, getting in on the forechecks and turning pucks over and having some extended zone time, trying to force our game onto them. We did a pretty good job of that.”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was in no mood for questions about a potentially tired team.
“I don’t look at it like that,” he said. “I look at it like we lost a close, hard-fought hockey game. It was a hell of a hockey game. We’ll rest up and move on to Tuesday (against Arizona). That’s all I look at right now.”
from Scott Powers of ESPN,
Facing Eastern Conference competition has been very rewarding to the St. Louis Blues this season. The Blues are on a seven-game winning streak and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games thanks to their dominance against the East.
Seven of those nine victories were against Eastern Conference foes. The Buffalo Sabres put up challenge against the Blues on Thursday -- St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen and Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth both played well -- but the Blues were too much in the end and pulled out a 3-0 win.
The Blues improved to 15-3-2 overall against the East and possess the best cross-conference record in the NHL. The Blues' recent success has also helped them in the Central Division. They have now matched the Nashville Predators with 72 points through 51 games.
read on for more hockey topics from the ESPN writers...
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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