Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Canadian Press:
It could be just the first of many, but Sidney Crosby will win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader for 2006-07.
The 19-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins prodigy ended the season with 120 points, six more than Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks, who won the Art Ross last season with 125.
“It’s a nice accomplishment, and I didn’t come into this season expecting it,” Crosby told reporters after setting up both Pittsburgh goals in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. “I tried to have the best season possible, and I was lucky enough to get it.”
continued with a list of the NHL’s leaders in goals, GAA, etc.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
The guaranteed-point, four-on-four overtime was introduced by the NHL in 1999-2000 to give teams an incentive to open up and go after victories in the extra five minutes of play. It was meant to provide a reward to fans who more often than not were sitting through 60 minutes of clutch-and-grab hockey sanctioned by the league so expansion and low-payroll operations could compete with high-payroll, marquee clubs.
The concept (Gary Bettman’s, by the way) was a good one within the league’s warped lowest-common-denominator environment. Overtimes did provide singular, sometimes breathtaking, entertainment. Coaches often used three forwards and an offense-minded defenseman in non-conference games. The extra five minutes (or less) often were a treat for the players and for the fans.
But the implementation of both the new officiating standards and the shootout has made the concept obsolete. Four-on-four is now generally a bore. Coaches approach overtime playing not to lose rather than to win. They’d just as soon get the game to a shootout. Defensively suspect players don’t get on the ice. For example, Petr Prucha might do wonders with the additional space created by four-on-four, but the sophomore sniper got a total of two shifts - two! - in the Rangers’ 22 overtime periods.
Brooks has a point: if teams can’t win outright in the first 1:30-2:00 of overtime, they tend to shut down their offence and play a four-man trap. What one does to rectify the situation depends on who you ask. Brooks is for a 2-1-0 system; I’m all for the three-point win. What do you think?
There will be 30 teams vying for the services of a handful of top free agents during the off-season.
Why are the Flyers optimistic they can win a couple of these valuable auctions?
After all, even though they figure to have plenty of salary cap space (between $15-$20 million), so will a lot of other teams.
What will make big-time talents want to leave winning teams such as Buffalo and New Jersey to come to the team with the worst record of 2006-07?
continued… and some Flyers’ speculation about the NHL draft lottery
From the New York Daily News,
Ray Shero could easily have claimed all the credit for maneuvering the Penguins into the playoffs for the first time in six years, but Shero doesn’t do things the easy way.
If he did, he would have flaunted his famous last name like Paris Hilton at the velvet rope, demanding a VIP job in the NHL instead of paying his dues for a dozen years as a player agent and then as an assistant GM for two expansion teams.
continued… plus some other NHL talk
From the Detroit Free Press,
Every issue that bothered the Wings last season has been addressed. In goal, they went from untested Manny Legace to proven Dominik Hasek. Up front, they added grit and size by trading for Todd Bertuzzi and Kyle Calder. Leadership-wise, Lidstrom took over the captaincy with expected fluidity. "We're a better team than we were last year, even though we don't have as many points," forward Dan Cleary said. "I like our team. I just feel that, top to bottom, we can skate and we're a lot more physical. I think we're more gritty as a team. I believe we're more playoff-ready."More
Via Sportsnet and CP,
"The bottom line is we're not in the playoffs, and it started two months ago," said captain Saku Koivu, referring to a February slump that saw Montreal lose six consecutive games and begin a second-half slide that crushed the team's playoff hopes.Continue reading
From the Ft. Worth Star Telegram,
"We are different this year," Stars forward Stu Barnes said. Of course, that is what they all said last season. Whether this is actually true is impossible to predict, and barely matters anyway. What they will ultimately be judged by is the foolproof "Did they finally win the first round for the first time since 2003?" barometer. I honestly do not know if they can.More
From the Ottawa Sun,
From the moment Senators winger Dany Heatley gathered in a rolling puck in the neutral zone, you knew he was going to shoot. Seconds later, he did and Heatley had his 50th goal of the season, putting the Senators on the road to a 6-3 win over the Bruins and keeping the Senators at home to start the playoffs.More
A four seed and undecided about who your goalie is to start the playoffs? Probably not what Barry Trotz expected. It would appear he's going with the vet.
But there's little doubt now that Tomas Vokoun will be the team's playoff starter. He started for the sixth time in the Predators' last seven games on Saturday against Colorado, stopping 29 of 31 shots in a 4-2 Nashville victory. "We've been trying to get (Vokoun) in a little rhythm,'' Trotz said. "And one of the strengths of (Mason) is that he is able to come off the bench a little easier, so to me, he doesn't need as many rhythm kind of games. I think Tomas does a little bit.''More from the Tennessean
From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review,
Picture the Penguins' playoff series against the Ottawa Senators as a 200-yard dash. Now, picture the Senators crouched at the starting line in winter clothes, each man tethered to a half-ton boulder. Picture the Penguins standing there in gym shorts and tank tops, eagerly awaiting the pistol. There couldn't be a matchup pitting teams of more dissimilar emotional mind-sets.More
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