Kukla's Korner Hockey
Alan Ryder of the Globe and Mail has some advice for the coaches of the six Canadian teams…
I know you are new to Calgary. So I thought I might give you some insight into your Flames. You inherit a pretty good team, a playoff team. But the West is a tough conference, the Northwest is a tough division and it is important to get the most out of your guys to even ensure a playoff spot.
Something went wrong with the back end of the team last year. Goaltending is a fragile thing. Miikka Kiprusoff was not the same goalie as in prior seasons. I know this is a sensitive point, but he is no Roberto Luongo (who was the most valuable goalie in the NHL last season).
from Damien Cox at ESPN,
Well, the Hawks will surely hit the half-century mark without winning it all, while the Leafs were closer five years ago than they are now. The Leafs are likely to be better this season and in the immediate future, but the Hawks have a chance with Toews and Kane to be one of the game’s most talented young teams if they nurture the prospects they own.
So the answer, really, is neither team appears on schedule to win the Cup anytime soon. But if the Hawks have the right kids and a productive change in ownership direction is in the offing, they look like the better bet somewhere down the line.
read on for a comparison…
From David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail, the optimism of Paul Maurice:
The man is the epitome of grace under fire. A font of cool rationale as the centre of the hockey universe explodes into panic.
Lost Kyle Wellwood to another operation on his sports hernia? Relax, coach Maurice says. Chad Kilger and John Pohl are here to carry the second line.
Vesa Toskala looked more like Red Light Racicot than the second coming of Curtis Joseph in the exhibition season? Not to worry, coach Maurice says. He and Andrew Raycroft will make the Leafs better in goal this season.
The defence as a group looks every bit as bad as last season? Hey, coach Maurice says, we’re just working a few kinks out.
from the Detroit Free Press,
Will the rumors ever stop about you leaving the Wings to run the Maple Leafs?
(Bowman) They’ve been finished. I went to Toronto (last Friday), and nobody bothered me. I’ve been with the Wings for 14 years. I basically was not interested in leaving. I like the people I work with. No reason I’d want to change.
more from Bowman, including his team “favorites” for the season…
Sources tell TSN Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell is expected to be reinstated today, ending his indefinite suspension after being placed into stage two of the NHL’s substance abuse program last month.
Bell will now begin serving the additional 15 game suspension handed down by the National Hockey League and won’t make his Maple Leafs debut until November 6th in Ottawa.
From the Toronto Sun,
Don’t expect healing defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo to be in the lineup for the Maple Leafs’ final two exhibition games against the Detroit Red Wings. Barring a last minute change of heart, the Leafs will keep Colaiacovo on the shelf in order to allow his surgically repaired knee to strengthen.
The decision casts even more doubt concerning Colaiacovo’s availability for the season opener against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
And from Sportsnet.ca news alerts: “Carlo Colaiacovo had an MRI on his knee. The results were negative.”
from the Toronton Sun,
Yet before the Maple Leafs goaltender officially is declared a flop across the board, a voice of reason last night might help this sudden city-wide panic to end.
That person was none other than San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who watched Toskala come up through his organization to emerge, in his mind, as one of the upper echelon goalies in the game.
“I understand the passion of the fans and that’s wonderful, butI’m not sure you want to judge him after just two exhibition games,” Wilson said in a phone interview from San Jose. “He is a very good goalie and I predict he will play very well for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He is very mentally tough. He’ll be able to handle the (spotlight) in Toronto.”
From the CP via Yahoo! Sports,
A trio of Eastern Conference teams feel they’ve made themselves better this off-season by acquiring goalies who couldn’t hold on to No. 1 jobs in the West.
Trades brought Tomas Vokoun to Florida, Manny Fernandez to Boston and Vesa Toskala to Toronto this summer and every one of those teams is hoping those guys can carry them to the playoffs.
Expectations might be a little high.
All three have shown some shaky form during the pre-season, although it would be foolish to put too much stock in the exhibition play.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: boston+bruins, florida+panthers, goalies, manny+fernandez, tomas+vokoun, toronto+maple+leafs, vesa+toskala
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
The Cloutier demotion makes me wonder why the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t giving all-but-banished netminder Andrew Raycroft the same treatment.
With second-line center Kyle Wellwood out for a month (at least) thanks to his second sports hernia surgery in nine months, you’d think GM John Ferguson could use Raycroft’s $2 million in salary cap space to help plug the pivot hole.
read on and more NHL notes…
from The Spin, the blog of Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So the Leafs lose a key player at centre when they’re thin, and the Bolts lose their best defenceman off a relatively thin blueline. In a similar way, another Eastern Conference playoff hopeful, Atlanta, has to be terribly worried about early season groin problems being experienced by No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen. If Lehtonen’s out, only Johan Hedberg stands between the opposition and big-time trouble.
The salary cap, of course, dictates that every team has to make decisions where to spend and where not to spend, leaving most teams with a part of their roster they just have to hope and pray won’t be hit by injuries. It’s a judgment call, but right now, for example, the Senators are looking pretty smart for hanging on to goalie Martin Gerber, with starter Ray Emery’s immediate future still cloudy due to ongoing post-surgical wrist issues.
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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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