Kukla's Korner Hockey
“He fought as a player, he fought for the union, he fought for the game and he (fought) for the integrity of the league. Now he comes here to fight for the Leafs. The one thing I know about Shanny is he’s going to fight for us every day.
“He may be analytical, he may be patient, he may not knee-jerk, but in that heart beats a man who is extremely committed to winning and doing whatever is necessary.”
-Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of MLSE on Brendan Shanahan, the new President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More on Shanahan from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Lehtonen last was in the postseason in 2007 as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. Just 23 at the time, he had helped the Thrashers make the playoffs for the first time by forging a 34-24-9 record. In the opening game against the New York Rangers, he lost a 4-2 contest and was replaced by Johan Hedberg in Game 2. In Game 3, he returned and allowed seven goals in a 7-0 loss, and that’s the last memory he has of the playoffs.
But he said that’s not a problem for him.
“I’ve gotten pretty good at not looking back at all,” he said. “The past is too far away, so I don’t want to carry that or look back on that. To me, I have worked all year for this moment, and I think I’m ready.”
And yet he does appreciate the maturing he’s done. He was, after all, the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. So when the Thrashers traded him to Dallas for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, it was clear Atlanta had given up on him. Lehtonen said he used that motivation to drop 20 pounds, get himself in better shape and start to understand the position of goaltending.
“One of the things I love about Kari is he is a real battler,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “People tell him he’s injury-prone or out of shape, and he proves them wrong. People say he can’t get us to the playoffs, and he proves them wrong. He lets his actions speak for him.”
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
When Ben Bishop fell to the ice diving for a puck on April 8, the conventional thinking suggested the Lightning’s playoffs hopes plummeted with him.
A week later, confidence in Tampa Bay’s goaltending has been almost fully restored as the Lightning get set to start their opening-round playoff series against Montreal. With Bishop not expected to be ready to return from what the team classified as an upper body injury, Anders Lindback is expected to get the call for Game 1 on Wednesday.
Whatever doubts might have lingered when the Lightning were forced to turn to Lindback were washed away in Lindback’s three appearances down the stretch.
Since stepping in for Bishop early in the first period against Toronto, Lindback has allowed just two goals in three games, posting a 0.67 goals-against average and .975 save percentage while winning all three games. His first shutout in a Lightning jersey during Sunday’s 1-0 shootout victory in Washington clinched home ice for Tampa Bay....
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and I said it time and time again: that is just a great guy and he works his tail off,’’ defenseman Matt Carle said. “So, it’s no surprise to see how well he’s doing. And it’s just great for our team and we have a lot of confidence playing in front of him.’’
from Mike Spellman of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Toews and Kane have gotten used to the lonely life of injury rehab in the NHL the past few weeks, but all that is about to change when the full squad gathers for practice Tuesday. And for the dynamic duo, it can't happen soon enough.
"Tomorrow I'll be out there with the boys, back to the usual routine. It's kind of nice," said Toews, who missed the final six games of the regular season with the dreaded upper-body injury. "It's not fun to be on your own program for a couple of weeks. It's one of the downsides."
Kane (knee) missed twice as many games at the end of the season as Toews did, so imagine how eager he is to get back at it against the Blues beginning Thursday night.
"I'm excited to get things going," he said. "I've watched a lot of hockey lately, so it's going to be nice to play in some games."
"I'm looking forward to being back."
When his two stars were on the shelf, coach Joel Quenneville said repeatedly that he expected both to be back and "100 percent" heading into the playoffs, and it appears that's right about where they are.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
A welcome Bryz
Ilya Bryzgalov was on the NHL scrap-heap last fall after being bought out by Philadelphia, where he failed to stabilize the Flyers’ goaltending. In October, he tried out with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers; a month later the Edmonton Oilers took a chance and signed him to a contract. Going nowhere, the Oilers flipped him to the Minnesota Wild, where injuries and illnesses to the goalies ahead of him on the depth chart (Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper) left Bryzgalov with the job. He was 7-1-3 in his 12 starts with the Wild, providing stability and helping Minnesota earn the Western Conference’s first wild card.
Will Sharks tank?
San Jose has a reputation as a playoff underachiever, but if the Sharks are ever going to win with the current Joe Thornton-Patrick Marleau group, this might be their best chance. Thornton, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture all used the Olympic break to get rested, and Joe Pavelski scored 40 goals for the first time in his career. But Antti Niemi, who was so good last year, has been so-so this year. Logically, the Sharks need to start Niemi in the opener against Los Angeles to keep his confidence up, but the hook could be quick.
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
Among the three goalies the Western Conference top-seeded Ducks can choose to start Wednesday in their Stanley Cup playoff opener against the Dallas Stars, the one with the most wins doesn’t expect to be in net.
Jonas Hiller, who went 29-13-7 for the Ducks (54-20-8) but lost his final three games, was last off the ice at Monday’s practice and was passed over in favor of 20-year-old rookie John Gibson on Sunday in what was a meaningless game in the standings.
“I’ve had some sleepless nights … I’ve not been the happiest guy in the world to be around lately. You can ask my wife,” Hiller said after Monday’s team practice in Anaheim.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he expects to finalize his decision about who will start Game 1 by Tuesday, and it probably will be 20-win rookie Frederik Andersen, who beat the Kings on Saturday.
Tim Wharsby of CBC says the pressure is on Carey Price.
NEW YORK (April 14, 2014) -- Following are some highlights of the 2013-14 National Hockey League regular season, which concluded yesterday:
A total of 21,758,902 fans filled NHL venues to 96% of capacity in 2013-14.
The total figure includes the 376,837 who packed the six Winter Classic, Heritage Classic and Stadium Series games. Had those six games instead been played before a sellout crowd at the designated home team’s arena, the attendance figure (21,492,671) still would have exceeded the previous single-season high of 21,475,223 set in 2008-09.
RIVALRY-DRIVEN REALIGNMENT, PLAYOFF FORMAT
Realignment and a revised playoff format that emphasizes rivalries has resulted in a tantalizing list of first-round playoff matchups that
* the first postseason meeting of the ‘Original Six’ Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings since 1957
First the goals, about 5 1/2 minutes..
Then the saves, almost 4 minutes...
A feature on top prospect Aaron Ekblad and again, a well done production.
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 email@example.com