Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Allan Kreda of the New York Times,
Pat LaFontaine has always been a popular Islander, though in recent years he has not been seen much at Nassau Coliseum.
Since he left the franchise during the turbulent summer of 2006, after the abrupt departure of Neil Smith as general manager, LaFontaine, the team’s gregarious former center, has primarily concentrated on his charity work and, more recently, working for the N.H.L. as vice president for hockey development and community affairs after a brief job as an executive with the Buffalo Sabres.
Before the Islanders leave for Barclays Center, however, LaFontaine will finally return to Nassau Coliseum, which he called home from 1984 to 1991. A Hall of Famer, he was happy to be invited back by the team owner Charles B. Wang and General Manager Garth Snow to greet fans and be recognized on the ice before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
“I haven’t been in the building for a long time, so I’m excited to see it again,” LaFontaine, 50, said. “I cherish those times and the players I played with. And the Islander fans have always been great. I’m honored to come back to where it all started for me.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Overall, his legacy is cemented. In addition to starring on two Olympic gold-medal-winning teams, Iginla has won a case full of trophies – an Art Ross, two Rocket Richards, a King Clancy and the Mark Messier leadership award.
What he hasn’t won is a Stanley Cup, though he of course came achingly close when Calgary pushed Tampa Bay to Game 7 in the 2004 Cup final. More recent playoff runs fell short in Pittsburgh two years ago and Boston last year. Finding the right landing place as a free agent, in what he hopes is his final NHL stop, was critical to Iginla for personal and professional reasons.
“It’s hard to pick, especially now with how the cap works,” Iginla said. “If you try to predict what the final four are going to be, maybe you can do it, but for me, it’s hard to tell. They’re all so close. There are no teams you play now where you feel they’re so much ahead of you – and that wasn’t always the case.
“Right now, we’re playing some good hockey and getting better and we’re missing some impact players [Erik Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon]. That should – and I believe will – only get better. So absolutely, it was more than just about this year. It was about being part of a team that’s trending positively in the right way. And even though we had a step back in the beginning, overall, we’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Every time Iginla returns to Calgary, it gets a little easier for him, he said. His family is enjoying life in Denver, from his three kids’ schools to their minor hockey. He sees a lot of similarities to Calgary – “a lot going on, but not too busy. Maybe a little warmer.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The Senators will wake up Tuesday morning where they wanted to be.
And, where so many never believed they would be.
There may not be any stopping Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond and the Senators now as they bit back at the San Jose Sharks by scoring four unanswered goals in a third period comeback to move ahead of the Boston Bruins for the final wildcard playoff spot at No. 8 in the East with a 5-2 win.
The Hamburglar made 29 stops and is an incredible 14-0-1 as the Senators extended their streak to seven straight wins to move one point ahead of Boston as Mika Zibanejad scored twice while Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also chipped in front of 18,193 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Yup, the burgers were flying with Ottawa 15-1-1 in its last 16.
Fourteen points out of a playoff spot on Feb. 8, the Senators have done the unthinkable in this remarkable run.
"I don't believe our effort has been an area where you could say we have a problem here in terms of flat-out effort. I think consistency has been our biggest issue. I think you see certain games and we play real well, we execute, we have good puck support, our lines work well together, our D-pairs work, we move the puck quick. Then there's other games where we're just off our game. But again, I wouldn't say effort is a problem here. We've got a pretty good group of people."
-Ron Hextall, GM of the Philadelphia Flyers. More from Hextall from Randy Miller of NJ.com.
from Chris Kelly of the Boston Herald,
With 73 games done and just nine to go, the inconvenient truth about the Bruins is that they are not one of the eight-best teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Maybe not even top-nine.
The B’s team that performed in Florida this past weekend, losing to the Panthers and Lightning, simply was not a club that deserves a berth in the upcoming playoffs. A team that one year ago was arguably the best in the league is probably now a middle-of-the pack, non-playoff group.
And right now, they are out of the playoffs.
The Senators beat San Jose last night to jump one point ahead of the B’s for the final playoff spot.
Teams as inconsistent as the Bruins just don’t warrant a crack at the Stanley Cup. Consider: The B’s have had two very good periods of play this season. Starting in late-October, from Games 12-21, the team went 8-2-0. Then in late-December, from Games 37-52, its record was 10-2-4. That’s 18-4-4 in 26 games, which leaves 47 others.
And in those games, the Bruins have gone 18-21-8.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Devan Dubnyk was a forgotten man when crunch time arrived last season. As a Black Ace during the Montreal Canadiens playoff run, the NHL seemed a long way off.
“I was skating with five guys,” Dubnyk recalled Monday. “Five guys that made me feel old.”
The goaltender was so far buried down the depth chart that he asked to go home after the second round to spend time with his wife Jennifer and infant son Nathaniel. Even when Habs starter Carey Price was injured in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, he didn’t second-guess the decision.
“I felt like I needed to go be a dad,” said Dubnyk.
He also needed a break after a season that saw him go from Oilers starter to Predators backup to Habs minor-leaguer in the span of a couple months. It was a precipitous fall. Dubnyk was beaten down and embarrassed.
"It was a big slip for me," he said.
When you speak with the 28-year-old today it's hard to believe he's the same guy.
Just under four minutes of highlights from the NHL games on Monday.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
There was that stat that followed the Winnipeg Jets around for the longest time, right up to Feb. 11 when he dealt away Evander Kane in a blockbuster: Their fourth-year general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, had never made an actual player-for-player trade with two NHL players involved.
The Jets embodied the patient, draft-and-develop rebuild, and while the blindly loyal Jets fans stayed the course, many Winnipeggers wondered if they were mistaking patience for inactivity. Or fear.
“We have kept some players, but there have been quite a few changes. Some subtle, some not-so-subtle,” Cheveldayoff said on Monday, back home in Winnipeg after a long scouting trip. The only way he can truly help his club now is to focus on the upcoming draft, and that is the place where the Jets have aced this project, compared to so many others who claim to be rebuilding the same way.
This is it, folks. This Jets team — big, heavy, deep, young, lots of prospects on the way up — is the team Toronto hopes they’ll be in about five years, that Edmonton thought they’d have already, that Buffalo will mirror as its latest rebuild takes shape.
Check out some of the best goals from this past week around the NHL including a juicy move by Jordan Eberle, a couple of beauties by Jonathan Toews and Kuznetsov’s amazing deke in front of the net.
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.
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