Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The NHL standings Thursday morning revealed five of the eight playoff spots in the Western Conference were held by Central Division teams.
Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and surprising Columbus have all strongly jumped out of the gates this season.
“If every team in the league played every team an equal number of times, you might have five teams in the Central making the playoffs,” St. Louis Blues power winger David Backes told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for those Central Division teams, the NHL’s unbalanced schedule requires six games against each divisional foe.
“As the schedule is, we’ll probably end up beating the crap out of each other and knocking each other off and end up with three of four teams making the playoffs in my estimation,” Backes added. “We need to strive to win those division matchups and make sure we’re separating ourselves from everyone else.”
continue for more on the Blues as the face the Predators tonight…
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
David Backes is another benefit of the collective bargaining agreement’s liberalized free-agent rules. The power winger will be eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1 and will turn 27 years old May 1.
There were preliminary talks between Backes’ camp and the St. Louis Blues before the season, but those talks have since been shelved ... for now. If I’m a betting man, I believe the Blues will pick up the phone again in 2011.
“It’s a dynamic situation,” Backes told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “Being an unrestricted free agent, they obviously can’t lose me for nothing and not get anything back. I need to have a good year to establish myself. I think they like me, and I love St. Louis. Hopefully something will get done during the season, but obviously there’s a business side to this game that if we can’t come to terms, then unfortunately we’ll have to maybe part ways.”
I don’t see this guy leaving St. Louis. My money’s on GM Doug Armstrong and agent Wade Arnott of Newport Sports Management figuring this out before July 1.
read on for some Leafs and Panthers talk…
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The overtime goal by Erik Johnson that beat Pittsburgh 1-0 might have been the result of the Blues’ approach to OT under coach Davis Payne.
Fans aimed complaints at former coach Andy Murray for having a conservative, defense-minded philosophy in overtime. Under Payne, the philosophy seems to be more offense-oriented.
Four of the Blues’ seven games this season have gone to overtime, and the team is 2-2. But in those games, the Blues have given themselves an improved chance of winning, outshooting their opponents by a combined total of 13-7.
“Our mentality in overtime is to play our game,” Payne said. “We’ve got skill and ability, and when we get the puck, we want to try and score that goal. On the flip side of that, when we don’t have (the puck), we’ve got responsibilities. Four-on-four, we want to attack the areas that are available to us.”
We’ve got some catching up to do as I intentionally stayed off the radar this weekend. (For the first time since the arrival of our second son, we had no visitors! Bliss!) Quick cheers for Friday and Saturday night’s action and then onto toasts and a few highlights from yesterday’s games:
Friday’s Three Cheers:
***Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa: Hat trick, 1,000th career point in 4-2 Senators’ win in Buffalo.
**Rene Bourque, Calgary: Hat trick, assist in 6-2 Flames’ win in Columbus.
*Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay: Hat trick, assist in 5-2 Lightning win in Atlanta.
Saturday’s Three Cheers:
***John Tavares, NYIslanders: First career hat trick in 4-3 loss at Florida.
**Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis: 31 saves in 1-0, overtime blanking of visiting Pittsburgh.
*Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit: Two goals, four points in a 5-4 squeaker over Anaheim at the Joe.
And, finally, on to Sunday’s honors:
Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: anders+lindback, daniel+alfredsson, henrik+zetterberg, jaroslav+halak, john+tavares, miikka+kiprusoff, rene+bourque, steven+stamkos
Plus Danica with a between the period interview.
Today’s salute to the performances of yesternight, honoring those who shined in leading their clubs to victory:
***Cheers to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who is showing marked improvement early this season and who was named first star in Tampa’s 5-4 win over the visiting Dallas Stars last night. Hedman managed a pair of assists and led all skaters in ice time, sparking an offensive rush on several occasions and, most importantly, playing adept defense in his own end. It is early, as we must continue to note for all who have had fast starts, but Hedman’s growth in year two will play a major factor in the Lightning’s fortunes. So far, with few hiccups, they must be pleased. (Note: They are. Coach Guy Boucher singled Hedman out with post-game praise after the Dallas game.)
Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: cam+ward, dwayne+roloson, joe+thornton, john+tavares, justin+peters, marian+hossa, michael+neuvirth, patrick+sharp, phil+kessel, semyon+varlamov, victor+hedman
Ty Conklin with the glove save…
Death, taxes and JJ’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…
The alternative to the standard game recap became a staple of my Tampa Bay Lightning coverage last season and it was only a matter of time before it made its season debut here.
Sure, the title of the regular feature has now been copied by a second-rate Bolts blog as of this morning but the content can’t hold a candle to the original and, hell, you’re here with me and they’re, well… They’re sleeping, I’m sure, on Pacific Time and what not… (Lightning coverage from California? Now that’s insight!)
Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: alex+ovechkin, andrei+kostitsyn, brett+clark, carey+price, dan+ellis, dustin+boyd, guy+boucher, jaroslav+halak, martin+st.+louis, matt+smaby, maxim+lapierre, michael+vernace, mike+green, mike+lundin, mike+smith, nicklas+backstrom, nino+niederreiter, randy+jones, ryan+malone, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, steve+downie, steven+stamkos, teddy+purcell, tomas+plekanec, victor+hedman, vincent+lecavalier
Janssen wast taken to a local hospital for tests and observation.
added 1:39pm, via Jeremy Rutherford tweet,
Janssen out two weeks with concussion and sternum contusion.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
If the Blues are to return to the NHL postseason, these are at least five things that must happen:
Breakout seasons: I don’t care who it is; the Blues need ‘em from a lot of the players. Will Johnson’s development elevate him to a spot among the top 10 defensemen in the NHL this season? Can “Petro” settle down and help the Blues’ stagnant (last season) transition game with his passing and skating? Is Perron ready to hit the 25 or 30-goal level? What’s up with Patrik Berglund? Is his enormouls talent still on the layaway plan or will he display the necessary urgency this season? Does T.J. Oshie have a 25-goal season in him this season?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org