Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

All Those Numbers

from Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette,

Hockey, I’m afraid, is in for the Year of the Number. We got an early indication when Brendan Shanahan’s Toronto Maple Leafs turfed a couple of veteran hockey people in the front office to bring in Kyle Dubas, a young hotshot whose ticket to the big-time was his supposed grasp of the relatively new discipline of hockey analytics — breaking down everything that happens on the ice and attempting to quantify it through various systems. (Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles are said to have had secret analytics departments for some time. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time everyone got on board.)

Whether you think it’s a fad or the future probably depends on whether you’re a poet or an accountant. But may I remind you — accountants run the world.

Inevitably, the stats movement has spread to the media. Newspapers and TV network websites are hiring journalists who are numerate rather than literate. That sometimes results in turgid prose, written in indigestible 500-word blocks that are enough to leave any reader yearning for the glory days of this profession, when sportswriters who could barely count wrote like angels.

When I reacted to TSN’s new analytics hire last week by saying I hoped it was a fad that would die before I do, I was bombarded with angry missives calling me a useless old curmudgeon and worse.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

A Look At The Barclays Center

from Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank,

The building was built for basketball and concerts, so trying to fit a hockey rink into it has been a process.

The scoreboard does not hang over center ice, there are obstructed view seats and in some sections the angle of the seats forces fans to have to physically turn their bodies to watch the action. “You’re facing this way and having to turn you head the other way to see the game,” one fan said while demonstrating how he has been viewing the game from his seat. To say the least, in those areas it’s not ideal.

But for two-thirds of fans, the view will be great. Islanders Point Blank explored the arena on Friday night and found the view was equal to that of Nassau Coliseum from most sections outside of the obstructed view sections. There was a clear view of the ice, albeit a steep incline in the 200s....

There are about 400 seats, according to the New York Times, in the Barclays Center that are obstructed view and you can not see a third, or more, of the ice....

“Just know that nobody’s kidding when they say you will NOT see anything that takes place in the near end past the face-off circle unless you sit in the first photo 2-2two rows,” said McGowen, who also took a trip to the obstructed seats. “I know the ‘Yotes previous building had similar issues but it somehow seems wrong to have seats like this in a building housing an NHL team charging NHL prices. If they do sell these seats to regular season games…and people are willing to pay for obstructed view at whatever price they do end up charging, I suppose no harm, no foul, but those thinking of buying these seats really need to be aware that this is an OOUS – an Obstruction Of Unusual Size.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

David Clarkson Will Be Examined By A Medical Specialist After Fight Yesterday

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

David Clarkson, whose eye and possibly his cheek were damaged in a fight with Cody McCormick, will be checked Monday after swelling made it impossible to determine the extent of his facial injuries.

“He’s to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist,” coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday morning. “That’s where we’re at. We’re all concerned. It’ll be one thing (a possible long-term injury) or another. The issue was that yesterday, the swelling was still up there and they can do a better assessment with the picture.”

Given that Clarkson has twice put himself into the middle of costly pre-season incidents (a 10-game suspension resulted from a brawl with the Sabres last September), Carlyle was asked about the veteran winger keeping emotions in check.

“There would be certain times where you’re best suited to turn the other cheek, depending on the opponent,” Carlyle said. “But it’s something that has been done and now we have to deal with it.”

read on for more on the Leafs and watch the fight below...

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: david+clarkson

Previewing The New York Rangers

from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,

Biggest story to watch: At 32, is Henrik Lundqvist in a career wane? If somebody had told you that the Rangers were going to make a run to the final, you’d have assumed Lundqvist would be at the top of his game. Likewise, if you were told that New York was going to lock up Lundqvist with a seven-year, $59.5-milion contract last December, you’d assume he was playing at the top of his game. Yet in the 2013-14 regular season, Lundqvist was no better than a middle-of-the pack netminder. His .920 save percentage ranked 15th in league, likewise his GAA of 2.36. Compare these desultory numbers to his stats from his 2011-12: His .930 save-percentage and 1.97 goals-against won him the Vezina Trophy. Lundqvist returned to form in the playoffs—his .927 and 2.14 were better than the marks set by the other goalies in the respective conference finals, Carey Price, Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick.

2014-15 prediction: The Rangers will figure out a way to squeeze into the seventh or eighth playoff slot in the Eastern Conference and make a top seed’s life miserable or even cut a heavyweight’s spring short.

more

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Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Should Torey Krug And Reilly Smith Agree To The Bruins’ Offer?

from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,

In his time as the Bruins general manager, Peter Chiarelli has usually valued his players’ peace of mind over the loose change that could be won in contract blood feuds.

But in the case of unsigned players Torey Krug and Reilly Smith, he’s so far shown that he’s willing to hold the line. With slightly more than $3 million available to him under the cap, he’s got no other choice, at least not one that’s palatable to him.

The B’s have not budged off their original offers of one-year bridge deals, believed to be worth between $1-$1.5 million. Are the B’s being unfair to Smith and Krug? No, they are simply using the leverage afforded to them by the CBA, just as both players were able to work things to their advantage when they wanted to a burn the first year of their entry level deals by playing less than a handful of NHL games at the end of their respective college careers, with Smith signing with Dallas as a third-round pick and Krug (a highly sought-after undrafted free agent) signing with the Bruins in the spring of 2012.

Hardball is not part of Chiarelli’s game. Not only have his spending tendencies helped transform the Bruins’ image from that of a skinflint operation into one that treats its players more than fairly, Chiarelli seems to truly believe that having his best players squared away financially produces a better on-ice product.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: reilly+smith, torey+krug

Brad Stuart Could Be A Big Hit In Denver

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,

Like Avs players, Avs fans will soon appreciate having Stuart on their side. If nothing else, pay attention to Stuart's skating — his smooth, seemingly effortless stride gets him in position to make plays as well as anyone in the NHL.

"He's a really steady influence," said Erik Johnson, who is playing with Stuart as the Avs' top pairing. "He won a Stanley Cup in Detroit and has been on a lot of winning teams. He's approaching mid-30s, but he really skates well out there. If you can skate in the league you're going to be around for a long time, and he can definitely move."

Stuart came to Colorado from San Jose at a large cost: The Avs sent the Sharks a second-round draft pick in 2016 and a sixth-rounder in 2017. Stuart waived his limited no-trade clause to come to Colorado after the Sharks self-imploded again in the 2014 playoffs after taking a 3-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Kings, the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

"Yeah, I think it was a good time," Stuart said of getting out of San Jose, the team that chose him third overall in the 1998 draft. "They wanted to make, probably, more changes than they did. First thing I noticed here is, everything is positive; everybody is excited about the season. Reading some of the things going on (in San Jose), it's a little different atmosphere. I'm excited to be a part of this. It really feels good."

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brad+stuart

Zach Parise’s Father J.P. Battling Lung Cancer

from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,

Zach Parise touches a white friendship bracelet on his right wrist. He turns it over and reveals the special inscription: “la vie a ses bons moments.”

“It means, ‘Life has its good moments,’ ” Parise says, staring intently at the words. “My mom made it for friends and family.”

With sad eyes, the Wild forward looks up: “Growing up, that’s what Dad always told us when things were going a little wrong.”

For the past seven months, J.P. Parise, the popular former North Stars forward and proud father of Zach and Jordan Parise, has been in the toughest battle of his life. Last winter, while Zach was captaining the United States in the Olympics, J.P. woke up with kidney stones.

“I went to the doctor, took a CT scan and the doc said, ‘There’s a black spot on your left lung that I don’t like,’ ” J.P. Parise said, recalling the words that turned his life upside down.

Days later, he would receive a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer, the most advanced form of the disease.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: j.p.+hoornstra, zach+parise

Jeff Vinik Committed To Winning In Tampa Bay

from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,

“Frankly we were losing a lot of money when we first bought the team, and now we are losing a little bit of money,’’ Vinik said. “It’s been such a fun experience over the past five years. Our mission to try and become the Green Bay Packers of the NHL, to try and become world class, we are gaining on both of those. But we still have a ways to go, and when we get there I will raise the targets because you can’t stop chasing excellence.’’

That includes continuing to increase payroll to try to field the best possible team.

“From Day 1, my philosophy was spend at or near the salary cap, because how lucky am I to be the owner of a professional sports team and a professional hockey league team,’’ Vinik said. “I want our fans and myself to enjoy giving it our best shot to win.’’

So when it comes time next summer for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to explore extending Stamkos’ contract and locking the franchise player into another long term-deal that could carry an average annual salary north of $10 million, Vinik said he will let his feelings be known.

“I’ll tell Steven loud and proud that I hope you are with us for your whole career and lead us to a lot of Stanley Cups,’’ Vinik said. “I will let Steve Yzerman handle (the negotiations). The day I get involved with hockey negotiations or picking players is the day you better worry about the future of our franchise.’’

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jeff+vinik

Short-Handed Icing And Cycling In The Corners

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

- During the USHL’s Fall Classic Week, the league activated a temporary rule. Teams were not allowed to ice the puck during a penalty kill. If they did, they were called for icing. The following faceoff would take place in their zone.

“I like it a lot,” said Eades, formerly an assistant coach at the University of North Dakota. “I hope there’s a lot more experimentation with it. With any change, there’s going to be people not liking it. But we’ve got to continue to look at ways to increase excitement, offensive chances, and eventually scoring in our game. It’s one I really, really like.”

The scenario has always underscored hockey’s double standard. If you needlessly rip the puck down the ice during even-strength play, good luck getting your coach to give you another shift, especially if your opponent scores off the following draw. Execute the same play when you’re killing a penalty, your coach will shower you with attaboys all the way to the bus.

- “In today’s game, everybody’s cycling in the corner,”(Brad) Park said. “Somebody asked me one day, ‘What would you do if they were cycling?’ I said, ‘Stand still.’ If the puck’s in the corner, I don’t have a problem, right? So what they do is they cycle, they look, then they go to the point shot. Guys go and stand right in the crease. Defensemen go out to the hash marks to block the shot. If it gets by them, the other team is right in front of the net for the rebound, and the defensemen are 6-7 feet away. A lot of this doesn’t make sense to me.”

If there is one thing the former Bruins legend questions, it is today’s commitment to collapsing and blocking shots in front of the net. Perhaps it’s because the equipment Park and his counterparts wore did little to prevent blocks from becoming bruises. Modern gear is like armor.

more on each topic plus additional hockey notes...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Sunday Morning Hockey Notes

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- A sincere question for the hockey analytics community? Has a team with middle-of-the-road talent used statistical analysis to improve in any meaningful way? And please don’t use the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks as examples?

- As if the disparity between Western Conference and Eastern Conference wasn’t large enough in the NHL, we give you the injuries to Pavel Datsyuk, Jordan Staal, Derek Stepan and the unsigned centreman Ryan Johansan ... And I wonder, at 36 and being undersized, is being hurt all the time what Datsyuk now faces with the Detroit Red Wings.

- That was a little smug of NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, all but chest thumping how his league has handled the kind of social issues the NFL is currently drowning over. Bettman seems to have forgotten his summer of hockey deaths and how he basically abdicated whatever part his league may have played in those tragedies.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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