Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Jon Jordan on 10/10/10 at 11:04 AM ET
Today’s three cheers for those who deserve as much from their performances of a night ago:
***Cheers to Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, who burst onto the NHL scene last night with a hat trick in his first career game. Dallas’ Fabian Brunnstrom was the last player to manage three goals in his NHL debut and Stepan became the fourth player in league history to accomplish the feat. That it came against the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, too, makes the performance that much more impressive. If Stepan’s contributions in the early-going are any indicator, New York will fare far better than some of us may have predicted.
**Cheers to Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata, who led the Coyotes to a 5-2 win over Boston in Prague with a two-goal, three-point showing. Unceremoniously dumped by the Tampa Bay Lightning prior to the 2009-10 campaign, Vrbata’s return to Phoenix was a successful one last season, as his 24 goals made him a key contributor for a surprise Coyotes team. Looks like the Czech native and his Phoenix teammates have picked things up this year right where they left off last. (But, as my good friend and The Bolts Beat colleague, Mark Pukalo, so wisely noted yesterday, “Thank God the Lightning had Todd Fedoruk and David Hale last year!”) Snark, snark.
*And big time cheers to Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, for winning his NHL debut, yes, but more so for simply “getting it”. His fingerprints are all over this team already and players have been raving about his motivational fortitude and teaching prowess from the get-go. But it’s little nuances like the T-shirt winger Steve Downie was wearing post-game that reads, in part, “Tonight, I: was first on puck, blocked shots, played hurt, took a hit, made a pass…” and ends with, “And all I got was this lousy T-shirt” and a Viking helmet and superhero cape awarded for “Warrior of the Game” and “DNA of the Game”, respectfully, that shows his understanding for both keeping guys accountable to themselves and each other, as well as keeping things light in the room. The all-hands-on-deck stick salute to the home crowd after last night’s victory was a wonderful touch as well, noticeably appreciated by the fans that stuck around past the final buzzer and sure to become a favorite tradition for the Lightning faithful in short order. “It’s important the players recognize the people that paid to get in here,” Boucher said. The coach sure does… And he and his club are off to a fine start.
Finally today, no cheers are in order on Long Island just yet – not with center John Tavares falling victim to a mild concussion in the first period of last night’s New York Islanders/Dallas Stars matchup. The Isles’ super soph joins defenseman Mark Streit and forward Kyle Okposo as key cogs out of New York’s lineup. Tavares may not be out long – early word is day-to-day – but is this club cursed, or what? Somewhere, I’m sure, Mike Milbury is to blame. Perhaps Alexei Yashin is available? After all, he’s still on the payroll for, what, 49 more years?
Happy Sunday, gang.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: alexei+yashin, david+hale, derek+stepan, fabian+brunnstrom, guy+boucher, john+tavares, kyle+okposo, mark+streit, mike+milbury, radim+vrbata, ryan+miller, steve+downie, todd+fedoruk
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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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