Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
What to dissect and at least attempt to digest from the latest collapse for the Maple Leafs, a 6-5 shootout loss to the Penguins here Wednesday night?
Well, most glaring was a blown 4-1 lead early in the second period, albeit to a Penguins team loaded with firepower enhanced by an awakened Evgeni Malkin.
There was the unfathomable third period and overtime session when the Leafs didn’t manage a single shot on net and were outshot 19-0 in that process, sending a holiday weekend sellout crowd at the Consol Energy Center into a frenzy.
And then there was the flailing penalty kill, one that surrendered three power-play goals at least one of which, depending on your point of view, was helped by debatable officiating.
continued and watch the Malkin, debatable goal below...
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail,
According to Jeff Sagarin, a well-regarded statistician who publishes power rankings for most North American professional sports at USA Today, the Leafs have, so far, had the second-easiest schedule in the league.
By Sagarin’s numbers, they have played the NHL’s top-10 teams just six times, and the top-16 teams only nine times.
But that will quickly change. Starting Wednesday, the Leafs will play good teams almost every night for 11 games in a row, including powerhouses such as the Pittsburgh Penguins (twice), San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.
In all, it means facing top-10 teams in Sagarin’s list eight times in the next 20 days.
The timing for this part of the Leafs schedule – which will also coincide with HBO beginning to film its invasive 24/7 documentary series – isn’t ideal. Toronto has won only two games in regulation in its last 10 (4-5-1) and is coming off a 6-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Monday that had fans booing them off the Air Canada Centre ice.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
“I haven’t seen a replay of it but my initial thought is that he was standing up and it was a clean hit,” Jackets coach Todd Richards said, adding that he had chatted with Anisimov after the game and he “feels pretty good.”
Obviously the main concern related to The Hit was Anisimov’s health which, according to the early indications, seemed pretty good, all things considered.
Having said that, The Hit — one which pretty much everyone in the building seemed to think was legal, including Richards and Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson — just underscores the grey area that players must deal with when they want to unleash big checks these days.
Pretty much the only person at the Air Canada Centre who felt the Maple Leafs captain had made contact with Anisimov’s noggin was the official who immediately put his arm up in the air, slapping Phaneuf with an “illegal check to the head” minor.
more and watch the hit below...
from Damien Cox of The Spin at the Toronto Star,
--Another Monday, another beginning of the week with some in the media endlessly suggesting the Leafs are lucky, or playing on borrowed time. It's like there's this desperate hope that Randy Carlyle's team can go on a losing streak to legitimize some popular mathematical model.
--Vancouver gets Los Angeles tonight, and the Canucks are finding it tough sledding in their new divisional alignment, just 1-7 so far against the California teams and Phoenix. They're struggling to score under John Tortorella just as they struggled to score last year under Alain Vigneault.
The only difference is there isn't a day-to-day goalie soap opera. The Canucks are going to have a tough time making post-season play in the ultra-tough west. And what would that mean to GM Mike Gillis who has really locked the Canucks into potentially difficult long-term contracts?
The Canucks are starting to look like the Leafs at the end of the Mats Sundin era, desperately still believing they can win a Cup with a roster that can't.
Will Vancouver be different?
a few more hockey notes...
Alex Ovechkin scored the only goal tonight for the Caps in a 2-1 SO loss to Toronto.
He now has 20 goals in 23 games.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Isn't it sweet when a summer plan comes together as originally drawn up?
When the Maple Leafs acquired Jonathan Bernier in June, it was with the hope that the competition with James Reimer would give Toronto the kind of 1-2 punch in net it hasn't had in years.
The NHL statistics Thursday morning listed Reimer sitting fourth among goalies with a .942 save percentage, Bernier just behind at .939, good for sixth overall.
"This is how we had envisioned it, that both guys would fight for the net, that they would get along, they'd be good teammates, they'd push themselves to different levels. So far, that's all occurred," Leafs GM Dave Nonis told ESPN.com Thursday morning. "So, we've been fortunate."
from Bob Duff of the Windsor Star,
"But for some single seats, the Winter Classic is completely sold out," (Tom) Wilson said. "We're looking forward to 107,000-plus people up there in Ann Arbor."
For the preliminary Winter Festival events at Comerica Park from Dec. 27-31, nearly 120,000 of 180,000 available tickets are already spoken for.
Wilson indicated that they'd sold a combined 42,000 tickets for the Dec. 27-28 NCAA Great Lakes Invitational tournament.
Approximately 30,000 tickets have been purchased for the Dec. 29 OHL doubleheader featuring the Windsor Spitfires vs. the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers against the London Knights. Nearly 30,000 more ducats have been grabbed up for the Dec. 31 Leafs-Red Wings alumni twinbill.
Capacity for the Comerica Park hockey games is 38,000.
"We'll have big turnouts for literally everything, so we're feeling pretty good about being able to deliver exactly what we talked about when this idea first came across, which is setting a record for the best attended hockey event ever," Wilson said.
Wilson also indicated that of those nearly 200,000 tickets, some 35,000 were purchased by Canadians.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Buffalo Sabres winger John Scott collided with Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf early in the third period Saturday and then got jumped from behind by Frazer McLaren as Cody McCormick and Toronto’s Colton Orr joined the fray. Yet Scott got 14 minutes in penalties, a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
The 6-foot-8 Buffalo enforcer was part confused, part disappointed and part accepting of it all.
“All of a sudden I’m not allowed to hit him anymore. He’s ‘Princess Phaneuf.’ It’s a joke,” Scott said of the Leafs’ captain in a postgame interview on the MSG telecast after the Sabres’ 4-2 loss in Air Canada Centre.
Scott had calmed down a few minutes later when reporters talked to him about the situation in the Sabres’ dressing room. There were no real punches thrown and no fighting majors handed out.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong. I went for a hit. Phaneuf bailed,” Scott said. “Then I get dragged down from behind and I got 14 minutes. It was more a precaution. They didn’t want anything to boil over. I understand.”
continued and watch the fracas below...
A musical montage set to 'Not Guilty
ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the National Hockey League (NHL) club has acquired defensemen Jesse Blacker and third-round and seventh-round selections in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from Toronto in exchange for center Peter Holland and right wing Brad Staubitz. The third-round pick becomes a second-round selection should certain conditions be met. The 2014 seventh-round pick returns to Anaheim after originally being sent to Toronto with right wing Ryan Lasch in exchange for center David Steckel.
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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