Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of the CP,
Only one division in the NHL can boast having every single team over the .500 mark. Surprisingly, it’s the Central.
Widely considered the weakest of the league’s six divisions over the last few years, where Detroit has captured six straight titles, the Central has some spine this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets are vastly improved while the Nashville Predators have not tumbled badly as many had predicted.
“They’re all good teams,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told The Canadian Press this week.
from the CP,
The Blues, who play the Flames on Tuesday and the Oilers on Friday, are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and playing some of the best hockey in the league right now.
“We, as a team, feel we can play with anybody,” Blues president John Davidson told The Canadian Press on Monday. “And we should feel that way. Last year we were just hoping to survive and stay in the hunt as long as we could. This year it’s different.”
The 15-8-1 Blues sit fourth in the tightly contested Western Conference, making a major statement two months into the season after missing the playoffs two straight years.
“And we’re going to be around for a long time,” said Davidson. “We’ve got eight players 24 and younger. So we’re going in the right direction. We feel good about the way we play the game, we feel good about the way we’re committed. Our team is well prepared.”
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
However, as Tkachuk’s opportunities get fewer, he is beginning to appreciate the career accomplishments that are coming his way. One of the most significant will come tonight when he plays Game No. 1,000 in the NHL….
“When we came in, nobody thinks they’re going to be in the league that long ... it’s an amazing accomplishment,” Weight said. “But you know ‘Walt’ ... he’s too cool for school. You know, he’ll say, ‘Ah, it’s not that big of a deal.’ But deep down, Walt knows it’s a great accomplishment and he’s excited.”
from the Buffalo News,
There will be 18,690 waiting in HSBC Arena. The Buffalo Sabres host St. Louis tonight, and it’s a long-awaited outing for McKee and Blues teammate Lee Stempniak. McKee hasn’t played in Buffalo since Game Six of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals, while West Seneca’s Stempniak has never played professionally in his hometown.
“It’s special,” McKee said Tuesday. “I was very fortunate to grow not only as a player but as a person here in this town. To come back and play here is going to be a pretty neat feeling. The fans were great, stuck behind me over the 10 years I was here, and that doesn’t always happen with players. I felt very fortunate for that.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“You have the Patriots right now, (Bill) Belichick last week was pretty hard on them, I understand,” Murray said after the Blues edged the Predators 2-1 Monday night.
“We’re pushing our guys to get better as well. We’re not comparing ourselves to the Patriots by any means, but no matter how good you’re playing, there is always room for improvement. We’ve got quite a bit of room for improvement. Which is encouraging.”...
“I don’t know if I’m holding guys accountable,” Murray said. “I’m just trying to come up with 20 players on a given night to give us the best chance to win. I believe players make those kind of decisions for you.”
from the News-Democrat,
Fast forward to Monday, and Perron began the day as one of the NHL’s hottest scorers with four goals and five points in his last five games. He has goals in four of his last seven contests and pumped some much-welcomed offensive life into a Blues team that followed up a three-game losing streak with four consecutive one-goal victories.
“He’s something special,” Blues President John Davidson said. “He’s got a great passion for the game; he’s a rink rat. There’s no question he’s got the ability to score goals and pass the pucks, plus he has no fear of going into any area on the ice.”
From Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated,
Is it possible that Brett Hull might save Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson, Jr.‘s job?
Seems illogical, but then logic rarely is a dominant theme at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a behemoth in terms of producing revenue, but a consistent failure in terms of on-ice success in the NHL.
The buzz for weeks has been that MLSE’s board of directors has been contemplating Ferguson’s dismissal, but the recent appointment of Hull as interim co-director of the Dallas Stars may have made an impact in Toronto.
The argument in favor of keeping the beleaguered Ferguson has long centered on a simple question: “Who can we get to replace him?” That question gave the board some pause this past offseason when several high profile (and under contract) GMs quietly let it be known they weren’t interested in the board’s plan to bring in an experienced hockey man to “mentor” Ferguson.
continued… including a look at shakeups in Dallas, St. Louis and Florida
from the News-Democrat,
McKee spoke with Murray about why he was chosen to sit out.
“We had a brief talk and he expressed to me that he was happy with most of my play, he just wanted me to work on puck-handling skills,” said McKee, who watched his last game on video to look for problems. “I was surprised, I’ll say that. I didn’t think my play warranted being pulled from the lineup. It’s his decision to make and that’s what he did.”
Murray realizes tough decisions come with the territory.
“There’s some certain areas where we’ve asked him to address his game,” Murray said. “He’s such a proud guy and a professional, and he will do that.”
from the PJStar,
Do not worry about Nikolay Lemtyugov.
The St. Louis Blues and Peoria Rivermen prospect is not among the Russian players who in the past have left North America - or refused to come at all - once an NHL roster spot was not guaranteed….
“If I wanted to earn money, if that was my goal, I would stay home in the Super League,” Lemtyugov said. “I came over here to play at the world’s best level. I will work in the AHL, wait for my chance, earn it.”...
“If it’s clear I can’t play at the NHL level, I’ll go back home,” Lemtyugov said. “But finding that out could take two or three years. The AHL is the third-best league in the world (behind the NHL and Russian Super League). I understand it’s part of the process in getting to the NHL.
“Too many players don’t have patience.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
...So, no, Murray doesn’t sound eager to return Perron to junior hockey for the rest of the season.
“We don’t want to say anything until his nine-game trial is up,” Murray said. “We want to keep him on edge.”
To evolve into a Stanley Cup contender, the Blues must integrate fresh talent into their mix during the next few seasons. They must benefit from added skill, fresher legs and increased competition at all their positions.
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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