Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Buffalo News,
I suspect that the opposition’s mantra will be “pound them - knock ‘em to the ice at every opportunity - wear ‘em down - it will pay off in the third period.” This mantra is especially popular with Buffalo’s three eastern Canadian rivals, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, who will meet the Sabres eight times between now and the playoffs.
The Maple Leafs are brazenly open about their feeling that the way to beat the Sabres is to out-tough them, a tactic that will be even more obvious when the Leafs get Darcy Tucker back in their lineup.
from the Ice Block,
Today’s three NBC games start at 3:30 pm eastern. The games are regional, although most of the country will get Pens-Caps. If you have Center Ice, you can get the other two games on there.
What’s on CNBC at 3:30? Paid programming until 6:30.
There has to be some sort of deal the NHL and NBC can work out to get a bonus game on that network. No, it’s not going to be any sort of ratings monster, but CNBC is on basic cable on many systems and any extra accessible hockey would be good for the league right now, even if a lot of marketing has to be done to let people know it’s there.
from Darren Desaulniers of the Ottawa Citizen,
While overall NHL attendance is down 0.5 per cent from last season, Daly said, it’s still at its second highest level ever. He also said attendance figures for the first six weeks of 2007 were better than for the same time period in 2006.
Daly also touched on the status of certain NHL markets, including Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Nashville.
The franchise that troubles Daly is Nashville, where the Predators are receiving poor support from the corporate sector.
He then said that the NHL, as a rule, opposes franchise relocation, but later added he wouldn’t be surprised to see a new franchise in Canada in the future.
from the San Francisco Chronicle,
While Internet rumors and reports of imminent deals rain down this time of the year, as if the authors have a pipeline to each phone call made between teams, the best way to forecast what Wilson might do is to look at the past.
At the trade deadline in each of his first two years as San Jose’s GM, Wilson has added pieces in the hopes of improving his contending clubs.
If the past is the best predictor of the future, Wilson likely is not finished after Friday’s deal with New Jersey to reacquire Russian forward Alexander Korolyuk.
“I think Doug is trying to improve the team,” coach Ron Wilson said. “But you do that throughout the season. That’s what these games are all about right now, seeing where your team is.”
from Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star, T
he estrangement between Toronto and Keon had been so prolonged, and so poorly explained by the man behind the grimace, that rapprochement felt awkward, not quite as advertised, and something less than magic.
Keon looked uncomfortable on the blue carpet, barely cracking a smile – either devoid of emotion or suppressing it. Later, though, he visibly trembled in the midst of a reporter gang press.
“Just look at this,’’ he said through thin lips when an inquisitor wondered if it was easier being a Leaf two generations ago.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
• A guy to keep an eye on at the deadline is Phoenix D Derek Morris. Scheduled to make $3.9 million (all terms US) for the next two seasons, he has a no-trade clause in his contract, but there’s talk he could be moved out of the desert.
• There’s been a lot of discussion about W Gary Roberts winding up with either Toronto or Ottawa at the deadline, but you can all but rule out the Leafs
• As for Khabibulin, he has two years left at $6.75 million per year and the market is limited. Sure, the Lightning would like to bring Khabibulin back, but not at that price.
more from Mr. Garrioch…
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• In the past, teams have added nice pieces like Butch Goring or Rob Blake and the additions have had immediate impact: Both those were complementary players. Goring remains everyone’s trade deadline dream story: How his acquisition altered and deepened an already strong New York Islanders team.
It’s hard enough to win a Stanley Cup without significant pressure: It gets that much harder, as Nashville will soon find out, when there are expectations of victory and nothing else.
• Let me see: Chris Chelios fired Don Meehan as his agent. Chelios is the leading the anti-Ted Saskin fight. Meehan is outspoken on the other side. Must be pure coincidence?
more NHL bits sprinkled in…
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
If Detroit’s Matt Schneider is available, that’s news to the veteran defenseman given that the Red Wings are attempting to sign him to a multiyear extension.
The Flyers accepted Nashville’s offer for Peter Forsberg rather than an equally intriguing one from San Jose, Slap Shots has been told. According to sources, the Sharks were willing to send netminder Evegni Nabokov to goaltending-needy Philadelphia as part of a package that included young defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
more player talks from Larry…
from the Denver Post,
“I’m a rock star, baby,” Sakic told reporters. “The fans come to see No. 19, not the man with the gray hair standing behind the bench.”
That scenario never has - and never will - happen. But, can you imagine the press coverage it would get him, the Avs and the NHL if it did? TV reporters and talk-radio hosts who don’t know the color of the blue line would run - run - to the Pepsi Center to crowd around Sakic. Newspaper sports columnists would come down off their thrones to see what the fuss was about. The “PTI” guys might even slip it in their countdown, right between some contrived debates over Terrell Owens’ Sharpie and Mark Cuban’s new goatee.
from the Dallas Morning News,
And the big picture is that Turco will be the starting goalie when the playoffs begin. He is 31 with 302 NHL games under his belt. He boasts a 163-79-2 career record. Smith is 24 and has played 15 NHL games. So the Stars are going to do everything to make sure Turco is ready for the playoffs.
“He’s had some days to work in practice and he’s got some good work in, and now we’ll see if that translates into how he plays,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said.
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