Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Red Wings remain an elite, powerful and wonderfully skilled unit, and a 20-point gap is formidable, but the Blues have been drawing closer. The chase has been fascinating to watch. Not too long ago, the Blues were the worst team in hockey. Now they’re one of the league’s fastest-rising franchises. The Note returned to the playoffs this past season, and their future holds considerable promise.
And age is creeping onto the Detroit roster. The list of key Red Wings players in the mid-30s or older includes Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Mikael Samuelsson and Chris Osgood.
Moreover, the Red Wings are experiencing a salary-cap squeeze. Barring trades, they’ll have less than $5 million to dispense in dealings with unrestricted free agents Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky and Mikael Samuelsson. And the Wings have two restricted free agents in Jiri Hudler and Ville Leino.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Keith Tkachuk and the St. Louis Blues have reached a deal on a one-year contract that will extend the veteran forward’s long run with the team.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced today the club has re-signed Keith Tkachuk to a one-year contract.
“Keith is a veteran leader who played a key role with our club’s success this past season,” said Davidson. “He and his wife Chantal are first class people and have been tremendous to the St. Louis Blues organization and the St. Louis community.”
added 5:36pm, Craig Custance of the Sporting News reporting 1 year at $2.15M and a no-movement clause.
via Jeremy Rutherford of the Morning Skate at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Blues veteran Keith Tkachuk received a contract offer from the club this week, and after some back-and-forth talks, an agreement could be reached as soon as today.
“I don’t want to get into it until it’s finally done,” Tkachuk said today. “We’ll know more today. We’re working on something right now.”
Reached in Las Vegas, where he is for tonight’s NHL awards ceremony, Blues President John Davidson said: “It’s close . . . we’re trying to keep the phones going. We want to get another year out of Keith and he wants to stay in St. Louis. There’s common ground there.”
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues’ President John Davidson announced today the club has re-signed center Jay McClement to a multi-year contract.
“Jay played his best season in the NHL this past year on both ends of the ice and is one of the best defensive forwards in the league,” said Davidson. “He will continue to provide strength and experience on the penalty kill as we move forward.”
McClement, 26, led all forwards in the NHL with 315:08 of shorthanded time this past season. He was one of four Blues to play in all 82 games, a career-high and posted career-highs in points (26), goals (12) and assists (14). McClement recorded a career-high three-game goal scoring streak from Feb. 24-Feb. 28, scoring three goals over-the-span.
The Kingston, Ontario native has skated in 311 career NHL games, all with St. Louis, collecting 111 points (35 goals, 76 assists) along with 140 penalty minutes.
from Mick Kern of Home Ice XM 204,
A large number of books have been written about Bowman and his coaching style. Suffice to say, Bowman is arguably the greatest head coach in NHL history. His two greatest stretches of accomplishements happened in Montreal, and Detroit. Each incarnation was impressive to behold. My heart says Scotty Bowman is first-and-foremost identified with the Montreal Canadiens, but my head says that his most impressive coaching job was with the Red Wings.
The better question might be, who would win in a best-of-seven battle between the 1977 Montreal Canadiens and the 1997 Detroit Red Wings?
from Jeff Gordon of the Hockey Guy at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If the Ducks don’t want to sign Chris Pronger to a contract extension, the Blues should wait a year and take their chances in free agency.
In a year, the Blues will be positioned to invest in another veteran player. Jay McKee and Paul Kariya will be headed to free agency, giving the Blues the option to reallocate some or all of that $10 million. (Moving either guy before then will be difficult, given their high pay.)
In a year, the Blues could free up lots of salary cap room while other teams face severe cap crises.
In a year, the Blues will know what they have in Alex Pietrangelo – a potential power-play quarterback currently lacking the strength to play at this level.
San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan and Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, who led the NHL’s top two teams this season, and Andy Murray, who lifted the St. Louis Blues to a surprising Stanley Cup Playoff berth, are the three finalists for the 2009 Jack Adams Award in voting by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
“Overtime, boys. This is where legends are born.”Alex Burrows made that speech in the dressing room Tuesday night after regulation time of Game 4 ended in a 2-2 tie….
Bad goal? Weak goal? Series-winning goal, that’s all the matters, just as the four wins strung together to make a sweep obscured the closeness of the battle. The bottom line is everything.
Maybe that’s why the Blues’ dressing room was still closed 40 minutes after the game, in violation of league rules, and no one beat it down. Maybe they were crying in there, for Mason, who played so well and then let in a softie. Or for themselves, having gone 9-1-1 to close the regular season, only to be blunted by Roberto Luongo and a Vancouver Canucks squad that had an answer for every question they posed.
Alex Burrows scored the game winning goal with 19 seconds left in the first OT.
from Craig Simpson of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs everything is magnified. The battles, the intensity, the pressure, the energy, the excitement, they all rise to a higher level. The swings in momentum that can occur within a shift, a period and a game are often the moments that dictate the outcome of a series.
A hot goalie, or a streaky scorer can dominate a series, but there may not be a more important part of the playoffs than special teams.
All year teams work diligently to improve their special teams, understanding the importance of scoring a power play goal at a critical time, or killing off a string of penalties to preserve a lead. No series has exemplified that importance more than the Vancouver, St. Louis series.
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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