Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rich Chere of NJ Advance Media,
Rich Chere: What are your thoughts heading into training camp?
“I’m excited about the start and the potential I think we’ve got with this group. I thought we finished the season real strongly last year. I think we only lost one of our last 10 or 11 games in regulation. We’re going to bring back a big part of that group that hopefully can hit the ground running. And I think the additions that we’ve made really address some of the key issues I felt kept us out of the playoffs last year.”
Is this team better heading into camp than it was a year ago?
“Yes. I think we’re deeper. With some of the people we’ve got in here and some of the people we brought in, I’m not concerned about scoring. We’ve dealt with some distractions here over the last 2 or 3 years with Zach (Parise) leaving, with Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) leaving and, not that Marty retiring is a distraction, but there has been some things that normal teams don’t deal with. I think we’ve come out the other side of that and everyone is excited to start.”
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
Does Jarome Iginla have much left in the tank? The numbers indisputably say yes. Iginla led a good Boston team in goals last season (30). Not since the 1999-2000 season has Iginla failed to score 30 goals in a season (excluding the NHL's 2012-13 lockout year). He scored 29 in the 1999-2000 season for the Flames.
He is 37 and not the fastest skater on the ice, but all indications are that his hands and finishing ability remain among the elite in the NHL. He also gives the Avs something they have lacked since Chris Stewart was traded: a power forward from the right side.
Will the defense still be a liability? The Avalanche allowed too many shots last season, an average of 32.7 per game. That ranked 25th in the league. The only significant addition to the top six is veteran Brad Stuart, who turns 35 in November. While Stuart adds toughness and experience, the overall defensive corps remains the Avs' most worrisome area. Players such as Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden will have to be just as good, and likely better, if the Avs are to make things easier on themselves and Varlamov.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
SUN: It looked like the potential never met production last year?
MACLEAN: "We look at a lot of stuff. We watch video, we look at the analytics of how our team is rated, and we have a lot of really good numbers and a lot of good really good video clips of how our team plays when they play well. Unfortunately, we also have a lot of really bad video clips of how we turned over pucks, how we took bad penalties and how we made bad decisions that really hurt us. A large part of a lot of games we played really well, but there was 5-to-7-to-10 minutes that we found a way to do things that caused us to give up goals."
SUN: What do you want this team's identity to be?
MACLEAN: "The team is going to set the identity. We really feel with the team we have right now the search for the identity is going to be way quicker. Training camp is about getting to that identity and getting to it right away so you can have success. We had a conflict of identities last year: It took a long time to get it to the point that we knew where it was. Our team play wants to play fast, we want to play 200-feet, but our biggest change is when we don't have the puck we want to work. We want to work way harder, smarter and be more tenacious. Our competition level, one-on-one, on a nightly basis wasn't good enough. If we can fix that, we can fix a lot of things."
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
I thought of things I’d like to see once training camp opens on Wednesday. Here are 10 conclusions:
- Pull the goalie. It took Patrick Roy, of all people, to decide that not playing a useless goalie late in a game is wise. According to the Denver Post, the Avalanche scored in four regular-season games after Roy pulled his goalie with more than two minutes left in regulation. The Avalanche went 2-1-1. Every statistical analysis concludes the risk of allowing an empty-net goal is worth the advantage of having an extra attacker. What’s the difference between losing by two goals instead of one? It’s not easy to clear the zone, to say nothing of gaining control of the puck, when you’re outmanned. At 19:00, when most coaches wave their goalies to the bench, it’s too late.
- Practice occasionally at night. The puck drops on the average NHL practice at 10:30 a.m. Of the 1,230 games last year, just one started before noon Eastern time: Winnipeg at Philadelphia at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 29. Research would be required, but common sense dictates that players would perform better if they played at the same time as they practiced.
- Hire full-time chefs. After games in Buffalo, road teams usually snack on wings in the dressing room. Even us gluttons know this is not health food. It’s critical for athletes to refuel with good, nutritious meals after maximum effort. My team would have a chef and an assistant preparing healthy meals during the game to be ready for consumption in the room and on the plane.
more plus additonal hockey topics...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- What some Leafs executive should say publicly but won’t: “Shut the $%^*# up, Tim Leiweke. If you have something to say about our hockey team, how about saying it in private.”
- A thoughtful NHL executive on the current gushing over hockey analytics: “The numbers can tell you why. They can’t tell you how.” ... And I do like Dallas Eakins’ take on individual Corsi stats: He believes it’s more a reflection of the five players on the ice, or a forward line, than it is on any singular player. So if a coach didn’t know a line wasn’t working — which any quality coach should know — he now has the statistics to demonstrate that.
a few more hockey notes...
from David Isaac of the Courier-Post,
The team's founder doesn't usually show up until midway through training camp and Saturday he was at the team's practice facility in a bright orange windbreaker with a Flyers emblem on the left side of his chest ready for the first day of rookie camp.
Snider, 81, found out earlier this year that he had cancer, but after radiation and chemotherapy, it's "all gone." He feels full of life and ready to start another campaign hoping to re-create the magic of 39 years ago, the last time the Flyers won a Stanley Cup....
Snider says he's constantly reminded the Flyers haven't won a Cup since 1975. The almosts and close calls over the years have haunted him.
"The bottom line is that's success," Snider said. "To get to the finals and then something always (expletive) happens to us in the finals."...
Don't mention the Stanley Cup Finals in 1976 when the Montreal Canadiens won the first of four straight Cups and swept the Flyers, although the first three games were won by one goal.
"They barely beat us!" an animated Snider said. "That team would have won four or so in a row. I just feel like somehow we're snakebit and somebody's putting pins in a doll."
Yawn. That’s my prediction for the 2014-15 Jets. Yawn. The young players will continue developing, and they’ll show promise. But the goalie is weak. And unless they fix that, the most interesting thing about this team is whether or not they’ll finally set Kane free to play some meaningful hockey somewhere that appreciates him. Oh: And they’ll miss the playoffs. The West is stacked.
-Jordan Heath-Rawlings of Sportsnet where you can read more on the preview of the Winnipeg Jets.
from Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice,
Forwards Jordin Tootoo and Ruslan Fedotenko also will attend training camp with the Devils as tryouts, general manager Lou Lamoriello said this morning.
Tootoo's camp tryout was first reorted by Sportsnet’s Josh Rimer.
Fedotenko, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, and Tootoo join forward Scott Gomez, the former Devil, and defenseman Tomas Kaberle as Devils' training camp tryouts. Lamoriello said he is not expecting to make any other tryout invites.
Lamoriello said this was a case of these players/their agents approaching the Devils about coming to camp as tryouts.. There are “no promises, no guarantees” as far the tryouts even playing in preseason games.
“I’m sure that some will get in (preseason games), but there’s no promises,” Lamoriello said. “There’s no promises, no guarantees. They’ve approached us and they want to be here. It’s not a case of trying (to get them to get come to camp.)."
Johnny Gaudreau with a deek then the backhand goes top-shelf, far corner.
A TSN promo...
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